business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From CNet:

"Venmo and Hallmark's new collaboration offers a novel way to gift money to family and friends. The companies launched a new product lineup last week that enables customers to send digital funds inside physical greeting cards for any special occasion. But you must have a Venmo account to give and receive money.

"Hallmark + Venmo cards work by providing a scannable QR code in the card that automatically opens the Venmo app. Once the sender selects the recipient within the app and then enters and confirms the payment amount, the gift is pending until the recipient scans the QR code with their phone. The gift must be redeemed within 180 days or the money will be returned to the sender's account."

Smart move.  Greeting cards has to be a slowing business model, and being able to use them to Venmo money is one way to keep them relevant.

•  From the New York Times:

"An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration agreed unanimously on Tuesday that a common decongestant ingredient used in many over-the-counter cold medicines is ineffective.

"The panel’s vote tees up a likely decision by the agency on whether to essentially ban the ingredient, phenylephrine, which would result in pulling products containing it from store shelves.

"If the F.D.A. ordered their removal, a trade group warned that numerous popular products — including Tylenol, Mucinex and Benadryl cold and flu remedies — might become unavailable as companies race to reformulate them.

"On Monday and Tuesday, the panel reviewed several existing studies and largely agreed that the research settled the question that the ingredient was useless and no better than a placebo."

•  From Axios:

"McDonald's is planning to phase out self-serve soda fountains in U.S. restaurants … Franchisees say the pandemic raised concerns about how to keep self-serve stations clean — and theft is a problem."

The story says that "free refills aren't going anywhere for sit-down diners. You'll just have to ask someone at the counter.

"The transition to a new 'crew pour' system, which has already begun at some locations, won't be finished until 2032."