Apple’s Payments Platform May Be Ready To Roll

By Kyle Spencer:

On February 28th, I wrote an article entitled Apple Is Building A Payments Platform To Rival Paypal. This piece, along with a followup penned on March 2nd, relied on a combination of patent trends and leaky insider gossip. Since then, evidence in favor of the “iPay” thesis has continued to mount.

Again, patents are at the forefront. “Apparatus and methods for secure element transactions and management of assets” (US Patent Pub# US20140222688 A1) describes the backend management system for a mobile wallet containing coupons, debit card information, and virtual currencies that is NFC, QR and Cloud compatible. There’s also the ability to handle large spikes of information, the kind of capability a large scale retailer might want in place for the holiday season.

Fig. 1: Graphical Representation Of The Proposed Payments Network

(click to enlarge)

From the patent summary:

Customers and merchants generally desire convenient and secure means

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Apple Partnering With American Express on iPhone Mobile Payments Initiative

Apple’s rumored mobile payments initiative appears to be coming closer to launch, with Re/code reporting the company has reached a deal to partner with American Express.

Apple has reached an agreement with American Express to work together on its new iPhone payments system, according to sources familiar with the talks. American Express is one of several partners Apple will need to sign up before it can launch its new payments plan, which sources say it plans to announce at its September 9 product event.

Apple was previously reported to have been in negotiations with Visa over the effort, which is said to leverage the upcoming iPhone 6. Just days ago, a logic board leak revealed the near field communications (NFC) chip destined for the iPhone 6 and which will presumably play an important role in enabling the mobile payments functionality.

easypay_concept

EasyPay mobile payments concept by Ricardo Del Toro

With Apple’s extensive database of credit card numbers linked to iTunes Store accounts and new security technology such as Touch ID built into the iPhone, the company is strongly positioned to leverage those assets for widespread adoption of mobile payments. The effort naturally requires partnerships with credit card processors and retailers, but the pieces do appear to be falling into place just ahead of next week’s media event.



Telecom Italia in a bind after losing GVT bid battle

PARIS/LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) – Telecom Italia has lost a promising path to earnings growth by failing to secure Brazilian broadband business GVT and may now turn from hunter to hunted in a fast-consolidating telecoms industry.



Campaign Cash Is Buying Tons Of Ads

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s airwaves are already jammed with ads, most of them negative, in one of the Senate races nationwide that will decide which party claims the majority.

The ads come one after another in an onslaught of spin that galls voters.

“In Iowa you see a lot of ads. You learn to identify the ones that are trying to feed you full of crap,” said 62-year-old Mike Vincent of Keota, a registered Republican.

The inescapable deluge is not confined to Iowa, and it’s only going to get worse.

Election Day is just two months off and the national tab for the 2014 campaign already stands at $1 billion. Before it’s all over, the bill for the first midterm election since both Democrats and Republicans embraced a historic change in campaign finance is likely to grow to $4 billion or more.

TV ads try to reach the few who are able to be swayed and willing to vote. In the closest Senate races, that translates into a price per vote that could double that of the 2012 presidential election.

Just turn on the TV in Des Moines. On a recent night, an ad against Democratic contender Bruce Braley and for Republican rival Joni Ernst aired back to back. They were among the eight ads jammed into a 30-minute local newscast.

Concerned Veterans for America, an outside group, ran a 30-second ad criticizing Braley for not doing more to fix the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Congress was warned, but Bruce Braley ignored it.”

Ernst’s campaign comes up next, with an ad showing American flags, farmland and churches. “It’s a long way from Red Oak to Washington, but I’m asking for your vote because I’ll take your values there,” Ernst says. Red Oak is her hometown.

The ad blitz has left things cloudy for Gloria Pace, a 72-year-old retiree from Des Moines. The negative ones against Braley have upset Pace, but she’s not sure they are true.

“I don’t know what to believe and what not to believe,” Pace said.

Total spending in Iowa’s Senate race has topped $18 million, according to data compiled at the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

Even though both political parties are tapping outside groups for seemingly unlimited spending, turnout in the primaries has been at near historic lows. Enthusiasm shows no sign of changing come November.

That means that each vote is going to be more costly than ever before.

The most expensive race, so far, is Kentucky’s Senate race, at $36 million and counting. The ads stack up heavily, with dueling appeals to female voters from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

“They are getting annoying because it’s the same thing over and over. Finally it just disturbs you enough until sometimes you think you won’t even vote because of that,” said Pamela Blevins, a Grimes supporter in Pike County who plans to vote.

In North Carolina, the tab now tops $28 million.

On a recent evening, six of the seven political spots either supported Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan or attacked her Republican rival, state House Speaker Thom Tillis. One was a generic pro-GOP ad. None was from Tillis himself.

Taking advantage of her currently large fundraising advantage over Tillis, Hagan appeared on the screen to promote her pitch that she’s a middle-of-the-road senator who fits well within North Carolina’s split political environment.

“Not too far left, not too far right. Just like North Carolina,” she says.

The heavy spending on ads just feed into the frustrations of North Carolina’s voters.

“I literally turn them off,” said Terry Hutchens, 66, of Raleigh, who runs a leasing equipment company. “My personal opinion is there’s too much money in politics, which is like giving a drug addict too much cocaine. Nothing’s good going to come from it.”

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Elliott reported from Washington. Associated Press reporters Adam Beam in Frankfort, Kentucky and Gary D. Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

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Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philip_elliott and Catherine Lucey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/catherine_lucey

EDITOR’S NOTE _ Labor Day kicks off a two-month sprint toward Election Day. This story is part of a package that sets the stage for the November elections.

The World’s ‘Most Expensive’ Apartment Is ALMOST Perfect

If you had roughly $475 million sitting around, what kind of home would you buy? Would it be a massive estate with acreage to spare? Or would you rather call a private island home? If your fantasy sights are married to the idea of a penthouse, have we got the property for you.

The 4-story, top-floor apartment at the Tour Odéon, a skyscraper that’s under construction in Monaco, has multiple pools, incredible views and a private disco. However, if you want to workout, it’ll have to be in a common fitness room with your neighbors. You’d think you’d be able to sweat in peace for north of $400 million.

Watch the video above to see renderings of what the ultimate in luxury looks like.

Seadrill: Riding The Long-Term Wave

By Stone Fox Capital:

For a market driven by assets that last over 30 years, the offshore drilling segment of the stock market is sometimes extremely focused on the short-term. Instead of focusing on the day-to-day operations and day rate cycle, investors should focus on the age of the fleet and the ability of management to adapt.

In that scenario, investors need to look no further than Seadrill (NYSE:SDRL). The aggressive deepwater driller is always one step ahead of the competition evidenced by theme enhanced deals with PEMEX in Mexico and Rosneft in Russia. Not to mention, investors get to collect a 11% dividend while waiting for the market fundamentals to improve.

Several other articles have already covered the recently released Q214 earnings report, so this article will focus on a few charts that highlight the long-term benefits of staying invested in Seadrill and not sweating daily market gyrations.

Jack-Up Scare Overblown

After

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Chesapeake Energy: Realizing A Nightmare

By Stone Fox Capital:

When reviewing the financials of Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) and comparing them to some other independent oil and gas exploration giants, the company stacks up favorably in a lot of metrics. It has larger production numbers and even produces more revenue than some of the hot players like EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) and Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC), but Chesapeake lacks substantially in the key area of valuation for a couple of key reasons.

Right now, Chesapeake has an enterprise value half that of EOG and Anadarko and it isn’t due to the high debt level issues of the past that are mostly resolved now. The prime reasons are the inability to shift production towards oil and the low pricing realizations for the substantial quantities of natural gas it does produce.

Shift That Never Happened

A few years back, Chesapeake Energy was part of a cohort of natural gas exploration companies that planned

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