The Greatest Show on Earth is no more. After over 100 years, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will take its final bow in May, brought down by high operating costs and declining audience interest. It seems running off and joining the circus is no longer a career option for the next generation of Americans, and clown college degrees are now somewhat less useful.
On the upside, that means the mantle of The Greatest Show on Earth is officially up for grabs.
As you are pondering, here’s this week’s dive into what you might be talking about this week.
PayPal And Discover Make Magic At The POS
Discover and PayPal have inked a deal that will make it easier and more rewarding for Discover customers to use their credit cards within the PayPal mobile wallet.
Under the agreement, PayPal will gain access to Discover’s tokenization services, meaning that, going forward, PayPal customers can pay with their Discover cards at all of the contactless-enabled merchants that accept Discover as a payment method.
PayPal customers will also be able to plug in their Discover Cashback Bonus funds as a tender type online and on mobile on any site that accepts PayPal.
“Discover is focused on making the payments experience seamless and secure for both cardmembers and our merchant partners,” said Diane Offereins, president of payment services at Discover. “This agreement with PayPal helps expand consumer payment choices by providing additional ways to transact and builds on the growing adoption of digital payments.”
Both firms have confirmed that Discover cards will be presented as a clear payment option within the PayPal wallet, making Discover more easily identifiable to cardmembers when paying.
“The agreement with Discover leverages each company’s core assets [and] will add value to everyday spending and deliver great customer experiences,” Bill Ready, chief operating officer of PayPal, added in the same press release. “Discover has been a long-term strategic partner for PayPal, and we expect that collaborative relationship to continue as we work to offer our joint customers more choice and increased value online, in-app and in-store.”
The latest deal with Discover comes as PayPal is working overtime to strengthen its relationship with the card networks.
The CFPB Braces For The Change In Government
What’s next for the CFPB has become something of a popular area of speculation of late given that the incoming administration seems to take a much dimmer view of its structure, power, positions and enabling legislation than the one that is leaving power this week.
And while the big questions will be answered over the following few months, at least in the short term, we can answer: lots of new leadership.
Five big changes to the senior leadership lineup, to be specific.
“I am very excited for the new additions we are announcing today to the Bureau’s senior leadership,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “The mix of experience and talent this group brings will provide great value to the Bureau as we continue to work on behalf of consumers everywhere.”
The CFPB’s new leadership includes Leandra English as chief of staff, Jerry Horton as chief information officer, Paul Kantwill as assistant director for service member affairs, John McNamara as assistant director of consumer lending, reporting and collections markets and Elizabeth (Eli) Reilly as chief financial officer.
Those changes come as the five-year-old agency could be looking at a full-scale overhauling of the Dodd-Frank Act, which gave it life. This uncertain future also comes at a time that the agency continues fighting its own legal battles after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that its governance was “unconstitutional.”
Public interest groups say they will try to fight for keeping not only the Bureau but also for Director Richard Cordray to finish his term, which isn’t set to expire until mid-2018. Cordray has expressed his interest in completing his term.
Other agency heads are apparently not so optimistic and have announced plans to step down.
Last week should have been one of pure celebration for Apple: The company officially celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the announcement of the iPhone by Steve Jobs. The iPhone is arguably the most successful product ever. According to some analysts, the iPhone and iOS have netted Apple $1 trillion in revenue (that is with a “T”), or pretty close to it, over the last decade.
So, what could possibly dampen those spirits?
Growing concerns that Apple has gone about as far as it can go on the old iOS magic and is now falling behind on what’s next: smart, voice-activated everything. CES 2017 demonstrated that everyone is trying to get to the dominant voice-activated position — Amazon is in the pole position, but others such as Google and Samsung are pushing up hard behind them.
Apple, on the other hand, is not exactly ignoring the issue — it’s building its own “Alexa-like” smart home device, it has HomeKit and, of course, there is Siri, which was, after all, the first voice-activated messaging platform out there. Also promising, note the professional tech watchers, are the Siri-enhanced AirPods, since they gives users the choice of life with a single microphone in their ear to command as opposed to having to wire their whole house for sound.
Plus, Apple’s history is not one where it banks on being first to the gate — it instead banks on being at the gate when the time is right with the best-designed product.
Apple is far enough behind Google and Amazon here that the experts are starting to wonder if it’s falling too far behind to make the Apple magic of the past happen here. Plus, those AirPods are reportedly better in theory than in practice.
Then, there is WeChat’s announcement that it’s officially moving to compete more directly with the Apple App Store with the release of a new suite of web apps for smartphone users. Those web apps, called Mini Programs, can be accessed without a download and are available for the 450 million Chinese consumers who live comfortably inside of that ecosystem.
Is Apple doomed? Far from it — it is still the most valuable company on Earth and has a long history of dramatic left turns.
But the consensus is building that it better take one soon, because the competition is catching up with it on the straight path.
Until next time…