5 things you need to know in SA business today, and why cashless stores are facing a backlash
1. Some good news, and some bad news. Good news: The rand has bolted back from R14.50/$ and was last seen cruising at R14.31. Bad news: It got a boost from a weak dollar amid expectations of a US recession, which in turn caused markets to plummet. For the first time in more than a decade, the US bond yield curve has inverted – usually a signal that a recession is coming. Along with other world markets, the JSE came under pressure yesterday, losing more than 1.3%. Anglo American Platinum was down almost 5%.
2. Naspers announced yesterday that it will list its overseas internet assets in Amsterdam later this year. Naspers, which remains on the JSE, will own 75% of the new company. This plan should help shrink its massive discount problem: Naspers shares are trading far below what its assets are worth. Its 31% stake in the Chinese digital behemoth Tencent Holdings alone is trading at a value of R1.9 trillion – while the entire Naspers is valued by the market at only R1.43 trillion. That means that investors are getting its other assets – including its Russian and Indian companies – for free. Listing Tencent and its other assets separately should force investors to put a price tag on all of its assets.
3. Ahead of the Reserve Bank’s interest rate decision on Thursday, and Moody’s crucial ratings decision on Friday, Statistics SA will today release quarterly employment statistics.
4. Bosasa is back on the menu at the state capture commission, with one of its former auditors set to testify later today.
5. Apple launched a new television streaming service overnight. The Netflix competitor is backed by Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg.
Why cashless stories are facing a backlash
Reported by Dennis Green
Cashless stores are becoming controversial.
Stores that do not accept cash are on the rise, from quick-service lunch spots to Amazon's physical stores. Not accepting cash can speed up lines or eliminate them altogether, making life easier for card-carrying consumers.
Not everybody is on board with this cashless utopia, however. Backlash has started, as the cashless trend leaves out lower-income customers who may not have a bank account.
Philadelphia barred stores from choosing not to accept cash in early March, becoming the first US city to do so.
"Most of the people who don't have credit tend to be lower income, minority, immigrants. It just seemed to me, if not intentional, at least a form of discrimination," Philadelphia City Councilman William Greenlee told the Wall Street Journal.
New Jersey later followed with its own measure, which Governor Phil Murphy signed into law on March 18.
"This idea of 'we don't want to accept cash' just marginalizes the poor, young people who haven't established credit yet, people who prefer to pay in cash," Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, a sponsor of the bill, told WNYC.
Massachusetts is something of a first mover on this issue, having barred stores from rejecting cash as payment for decades.
A ban like this would predominantly affect chic lunch spots like Sweetgreen, but also Amazon's nascent physical store footprint. None of Amazon's stores accept cash unless required by law.
In fact, the whole point of Amazon Go, the chain's tech-powered cashierless convenience store, is that there's no need to pay a cashier. Customers can just swipe their app and go. The store's cameras and sensors will see what you take and charge you accordingly.
If it becomes law, San Francisco's measure is likely to have the biggest impact on Amazon, as the company operates two Go stores in the city and has a third on the way. An exception for Amazon was removed in the most recent version of the bill.
"They can afford it," District Five Supervisor Vallie Brown said in a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment to Business Insider.
Amazon had reportedly expressed concern about the law in Philadelphia, telling the city's department of commerce "several times" that it would not open an Amazon Go store in the city if the law passed, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Philadelphia's law also intended to leave a loophole for Amazon.
The new law does allow for a store to use only app-based transactions, but only if a paid membership is required to shop there. You don't need a paid Prime membership to shop at Amazon's Go stores - only an Amazon account - eliminating the potential for a loophole.
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