Data Dive

Big Statements Edition: Verifone, The CFPB And Amex

Data Dive: Black Friday, Blue Apron and More

In recent years, Tax Day has also become a time to make big statements on taxes.

We won’t do that. Instead, we’ll remind you of some pretty big moves — made by some of payment’s biggest players — that have absolutely nothing to do with politics.

You’re welcome.

Verifone Goes Private

When it comes to the public markets, there is arguably no bigger statement one can make than “thanks but no thanks.” As it turns out, that is exactly the statement Verifone made this week with the announcement that it will be taken private — to the tune of $3.4 billion.

The privatization pact was struck with an investor group led by Francisco Partners and is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. Other investors include Canadian firm British Columbia Investment Management Corporation. Qatalyst Partners is serving as financial adviser to Verifone.

The move comes as Verifone works to reset itself — from the hardware maker that it is best known for being to a solutions provider in the marketplace.

“My mission-critical objective for Verifone is turn it into a solutions company that leverages our leadership position in hardware,” CEO Paul Galant noted. “If you look back at history, the purpose-built payment terminal solved a pressing need — that was the innovation. It was a box — it did its job very well. That was the beginning, middle and end of what we did. That is not our core value anymore,” Gallant noted in an interview with PYMNTS a year ago.

The markets liked the announcement, sending Verifone’s stock up more than 50 percent to roughly $23.04 a share.

Monday’s announcement indicates that Verifone’s board has approved the transaction — though the deal, according to reports, contains a “go shop” provision, meaning that Verifone management can mull alternative offers through May 24.

Amex Tries On A New Branding Solution

American Express is rethinking how it introduces itself to the world — and is rolling out a new branding campaign that Elizabeth Rutledge, CMO, says is designed to better connect the American Express product to the “global transformation in people’s relationships with work. How they choose to earn a living, pursue their passions and move seamlessly between life and business.”

Dubbed “Powerful Backing: Don’t Do Business/Don’t Live Life Without It,” the new platform, according to Rutledge, is a reflection of the new normal in customers’ professional and personal lives.

“We are witnessing a change,” said Rutledge in a press release announcing the new campaign. “People are living rich, vibrant and layered lives and appreciate when someone has their back as they navigate this blended lifestyle.”

The new push was inspired by a recent global study by Amex that revealed that of the more than half of all people that report having blended business and personal lives, two-thirds reported being able to get more done because of the integrations.

The new campaign, according to Amex, will include more than a refresh of the classic “don’t leave home without it” tagline. It will also be refreshing the Blue Box logo — and introducing a hand-drawn version of its card design that features its customers at the center, the company said in the release. The new branding will also bring an ad crush across channels — 20 podcasts within We Transfer, and via Hulu. There will also be ads on TV during high traffic times (prime time, late night, mornings) and during the NBA playoffs.

In the outside-of-the-box department, Amex will also use large-scale outdoor advertising in New York, L.A., Chicago and San Francisco. Starting in May, the company will back local artists to recreate their work on several outdoor units.

“While we have always been known as a relationship company, many people have considered us as only a consumer brand. Nearly 40 percent of our business comes from other businesses today — from startups and entrepreneurs to mid-size businesses, to Fortune 500 companies,” Rutledge continued. “At its core, our brand platform reinforces the enduring relationships we have with our customers, who are incredibly multidimensional.”
 
Payday Lenders Vs. The CFPB
 
Sometimes the best way to make a big statement is with a lawyer.

Community Financial Services Association of America, the payday lending trade group, has officially filed a lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to stop its highly controversial payday lending rule from going into place.  The group has reportedly said the law is “draconian” and is designed not to reign in the industry, but to destroy it.

The regulation would require payday lenders to verify borrowers can afford the loan before lending money and caps the number of short term loans an individual consumer can take in a row — or within a calendar year.

It has already been the subject of considerable controversy — House and Senate Republicans have introduced their own bills to stop the rule from going forward.

CFPB interim director and President Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney has said he is looking over the rule.

“We do not take lightly that we are suing our federal regulator; however, we have long said we are pursuing all options with regard to the CFPB’s harmful small-dollar lending rule, and one of these options was litigation,” Dennis Shaul, chief executive of the Community Financial Services Association of America, the primary industry group for payday lenders, noted in an interview.

As of now, given Mulvaney’s reluctance about the rule as written, it is not clear that the CFPB will actually defend the suit.

The lawsuit contends the loans provide a lifeline to millions of people who need access to money, but critics argue the loans trap people in a cycle of debt due to the high interest rates that come with the loans. The regulatory process for short-term loans has been long, winding and controversial — not to mention littered with dramatic statements of all kinds.

Now we have the latest one — and it will be interesting to see if the change of personnel at the CFPB will be enough to make this suit the last loud word.

And what dramatic announcement does this week have in store? We don’t know, and yet somehow feel certain there will be some.  And when they happen, we’ll be right here to keep track of them for you.

Also, don’t forget to file your taxes.

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