business news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that "Merchant Customer Exchange, a mobile payments company started by major retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said it will eliminate 30 employees and postpone the national introduction of its highly publicized product, a would-be Apple Pay competitor." The company which was launched in 2014 with a highly publicized to start a mobile payments system called CurrentC, reportedly is being challenged by its ownership - which includes Target and Best Buy, in addition to Walmart - to "reduce the role played by Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. and cut the fees they pay to the financial services. The retailers loathe paying fees to accept credit cards in their stores and have long sought better data on what their customers buy."

Just this week, Walmart said that it is making its Walmart Pay mobile payments solution - which would compete with CurrentC - available to customers at 110 of its stores in Arkansas, apparently positioning itself for a potential broader rollout.

Advertising Age has a story about how PepsiCo has launched a brand new state-of-the-art content studio in New York City that is designed to generate branded content "while also pursuing distribution deals with film studios, online publishers and other outlets for brand-agnostic content. And the central mission of all of that content is to entertain, not to sell chips, soda, oatmeal and other PepsiCo products -- at least not directly."

According to the story, "PepsiCo envisions selling enough unbranded content to cover the costs of creating ad content that does fuel product sales. The unit, called the Creators League, will serve as an internal production arm for scripted series, films, music recordings, reality shows and other content distributed for TV, online viewing and services such as Amazon Prime."

In other words, it is hoping that revenue-generating content generation will help pay for the expense of having a studio developing marketing content.

Reuters reports that Office Depot, now facing a future in which it cannot be acquired by Staples, having had that merger blocked by the courts and antitrust regulators, said this week that it is "considering selling some of its European operations" to generate cash, as well as looking at "various capital structure and shareholder return alternatives."
KC's View: