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Wednesday, March 18 2015

Equifax Canada’s Problems: Growing Debt and Security Issues

Equifax_Canada_s_Problems2.jpg Most people probably think that Canada is a peaceful country with fewer issues and problems when compared to its neighbor, the North America. However, things may not go down so peacefully in that country as financial issues and matters may dominate the condition of Canada recently. At least, that’s what implied from the Equifax Canada National Consumer Credit Report.

There are some things that bother this international company: the growing debt and the security matters. It seems that Canadians are looking forward to newer credits; their demands are increasing that the total debt is now reaching $1.5 trillion. Second, the security matters are basically parts of the company’s strategies to deal with digital attacks and threats, including fraud and identity theft. However, they still have to deal with problems despite their best efforts because their customers aren’t really careful about their financial activities. Among other issues that bother the company, these two crucial matters are enough to give everyone involved a headache.

The Growing Debt

Because of changes in economic condition, consumers are demanding for new credits, including mortgages. This is quite a significant increase when compared to the situation a year ago or the one in the third quarter of 2014. A year ago, the number of debts ‘was’ only $1.42 trillion a year, and it was $1.513 trillion in the third quarter of 2014, which means that there has been 1.1% and 7.7% increase. The trend is showing another change where today’s loans are mostly caused by auto loans and installment, while the one in last year was mostly caused by credit cards.

Regina Malina, the senior director of Equifax Canada, claims that this is the trend in Canadian economy. With the significant decrease in oil prices, business owners and consumers are often caught off guard, causing issues in the stability of credit indicators and key economic. From the report, it is pretty obvious that Canadian average debt – not including mortgages – has experienced increase to $20.967 which means that it increases to 2.9%. It causes a big concern from Statistic Canada about debt to income ration that is reaching the level of 163%.

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Despite the growing debts, delinquency rate and bankruptcy has been stable and even experiencing decrease. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the national delinquency rate was reaching 1.09%, which was considered the lowest since 2008. The delinquency rate was experiencing 2.8% of the decrease while the bankruptcy rate was less than 5% decrease. Malina claims that the bankruptcy and delinquency rates have decreased within the last three years, so they are going to observe and monitor the condition very closely.

So far, Canadian finance ministry and the Bank of Canada has shown their concerns over the debt matters, giving warnings to consumers that they could deal with serious financial issue when the rates are going up. So far, most of the Canadians are optimistic that they can manage their debts efficiently and effectively, but it shouldn’t be taken for granted. From the data, the West experiences increasing in new credit demands, with credit card sector increases to 4.4%, mortgages increase to 9.2%, and installment loans increase to 10.8%. So far, they do experience increase in new credit demand, but the trend has been slowing down – not as fast as the first quarter.

Security Issues

As if the problem of debts weren’t enough, Equifax Canada has to deal with fraud, identity theft, and also basic security matters. Most of their clients neglect the importance of doing safe activities in keeping their personal identity and data. So, the company finally provides helpful tips as a part of their Fraud Prevention Month actions. Here are some of the tips that may be handy and useful for you.

Be smart, be wise, and be careful. Always trust your guts when looking at any financial activities or promises. If something looks too good to be true, then simply walk away. Be extra careful of any websites or emails that are offering incredible offers, great deals, and also monetary windfalls.

Always check the credit report. Do it at least once a year. If you notice something suspicious or anything wrong with your report, report it right away. If you think it is important, you can subscribe for your credit file ongoing monitoring, to see whether there are suspicious activities that you aren’t aware of. This can be very helpful to detect any wrongdoings and minimizing the effects.

Always secure the computer. Most threats and attacks happening these days are done with digital world. Activate firewalls and always update your antivirus software. If it is possible, use more than one antivirus program. Be aware of using your computers or other mobile gadgets. Even if it is your personal devices, always log out after every activity.

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Use strong passwords. Make ones that aren’t easily predicted. It would be better if you can combine numbers, letters, and characters.

Your personal information only belongs to you; not everyone else. Even official bank staffs won’t be asking for your passwords or other personal data, especially through phones. Keep everything to yourself. Make sure to do any financial activities through the official website that has a padlock icon on it. Don’t be fooled by easily being lured to fake sites.

Always secure your mobile devices. Mobile gadgets are more prone and vulnerable to hacks and viruses. Always update the security system and when you have to download apps, make sure to only use trusted and reliable sources.

When you are throwing away documents, especially the ones related to your financials, insurance forms, or credit application, be sure to shred them. Tossing them into the garbage doesn’t mean that you destroy them; you only feed them to identity theft who can easily rummage through your garbage bin.

Cybercrime is something common in Canada, and 54% of it is about the fraud. It also costs the national $30 billion per year to deal with the issue. Doing those tips may seem overly simple and easy, but Equifax Canada believes that these seemingly simple actions can really help minimizing the chances of fraud and identity theft.

Tuesday, March 17 2015

CenturyLink Penetrating Minneapolis and Dealing with Issues of Their Own

CenturyLink_Penetrating_Minneapolis1.jpgCable service is basically a lucrative business. Yes, it is not easy to pull off and we are talking about big responsibility over wide and expansive coverage of area, but once a cable company manages to get into a certain region or area and it is able to dominate it, you can only expect sweet and handsome reward in the end.

This is what happens to CenturyLink with their attempts of entering Minneapolis for the cable TV service. Yes, CenturyLink is like one-stop provide for everything, from the communication set up to cable TV and entertainment. With their attempts of entering Minneapolis, they have to deal with several concerns and issues first. First, they have to deal with Comcast, the only competitor that has been dominating the area through these years. And second, they have to deal with city council that seems to still have doubts about CenturyLink’s intention and proposal. It seems like a tug of war situation when CenturyLink wants to move forward, but there are still walls and boundaries ahead of them.

The Whole Plans and Schemes

The company alone is ready to compete against Comcast in cable market platform, but there are challenges and obstacles ahead, especially when it comes to convincing the region’s City Council about the validity and legality of the plan. CenturyLink plans to introduce its main TV entertainment product, the Prism TV service. After all, with Comcast dominating the market all these years and being the only provider in the region, it starts to create a sense of monopoly. That’s why the Ways and Means Committee has decided that they are willing to talk and negotiate with CenturyLink over their Prism TV service, and they will make sure that everyone involved should be getting the fairest treatment and respect. Anything the committee produces in the end – mostly the recommendation they produce – will be then forwarded to the council so they can take a fair and square vote.

The council seems to be interested in CenturyLink’s plan over introducing their cable TV service, but they are also concerned about the company’s plan of rolling out their service slowly and within a specific area first (before then rolling out another coverage for another area) instead of providing the service to the entire area altogether. This plan has caused criticism from residents as well as Comcast. The residents have written concerned letters about this matter and they also have spoken in a public hearing held last February. Elizabeth Glidden, the City Council Vice President¸ claims that she is concerned about CenturyLink’s proposal and the fact that the company hasn’t provided any detailed information about their plan. They haven’t provided any detailed timeline of when they would begin the project or even detailed map planning of what areas they are going to cover and serve. She claimed that she couldn’t imagine agreeing on a proposal where everything is basically left in the darkness. For her, approving for a franchise agreement is a big step and it takes a big responsibility, but she can’t do it without full detailed information. If they are going to act based on the information given on the application – which is far from enough – it is most likely that the result won’t be good for CenturyLink.

Glidden claims that the city needs more about CenturyLink’s proposal and intention. They need more detailed information or data so they can decide whether the proposal goes along with the requirements of federal as well as state laws concerning franchise services. Nevertheless, the situation and the decision isn’t a simple one as it is a complicated matter. You see, the Minnesota federal law doesn’t allow cities within their boundaries to issue new franchise rights with conditions of less burdensome of more favorable than the ones issued to other holders, which also includes the area they serve. In fact, there is also a specific section in the state law with very specific rules about how quickly the franchise holders are required to build their systems. But then, a ruling made by Federal Communications Commission has concluded that the requirements have not-so-positive impact for the competition. Moreover, the new franchise shouldn’t be forced to begin their operation and service with a full constructed system. This is the argument that CenturyLink has used: that the federal ruling should come first and considered first than the state regulations.

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Difficult Choices

Despite the matter of the incomplete proposal, the city officials are left with difficult choices. They have been suggested to negotiate with the company and see what they can offer to the city, but despite the situation, they are facing a problem of their own. The city can’t be too cautious and careful by having tight and restricted regulations, especially concerning the timeline. If they do, they may lose their only chance to introduce and encourage competition. Not to mention that allowing CenturyLink will mean providing additional jobs and positions in Minneapolis. Moreover, if they reject the proposal from CenturyLink, there won’t be any healthy competition spirit since Comcast will still be dominating the market. On the other hand, the city is also ‘afraid’ that they may cause risks, especially when it comes to creating error on the competition. If there is no option left, their only solution may be the litigation.

Besides those matters at hand, the City Council still has to decide yet whether they are going to allow CenturyLink into their city. Glidden is worried that CenturyLink will only choose the profitable areas and pass over the poor and slum neighborhoods; not to mention that the company hasn’t shown any detailed plan about their construction and allay works.

CenturyLink, however, disputes that they should be given a chance, concerning that Comcast didn’t experience smooth start up when they first began in the 80s either. Aside from having financial problems, Comcast had to deal with the fact that building an entire cable system for a city as big as Minneapolis wasn’t easy at all. CenturyLink agrees to cover the city’s legal cost in case they get sued over the problem.

Monday, March 16 2015

Expedia and Their Latin America Domination

Being one of the three biggest online traveling companies in America doesn’t make Expedia satisfied with their current condition. Despite the huge income and revenue on yearly basis, they seem to think about doing more expansion and development, including trying to take over the world’s market online traveling and dominate it. That’s why they are trying to dominate Latin American region by strengthening their partnership and collaboration with decolar.com.

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The World’s Domination

It quite makes sense why Expedia is trying hard to dominate the online traveling world, considering how lucrative it is. The revenue for world’s traveling market is reaching $1.3 trillion, which is a very promising and lucrative number. And now, Expedia is able to hold ‘only’ 5% of it. With such number of profit and even 5% of the domination, the company manages to get billions of dollars profit on yearly basis. It is quite understandable why they want to expand their service and get higher numbers of market shares.

Expedia has started working together with decolar.com – an online Latin America travel leader – which is running on Spanish despegar.com and Portuguese decolar.com, since 2002, so they have had long years of understanding and partnership. Expedia alone has invested quite a lot of money – around $270 million – for decolar.com and they have gained access to various hotel supplies in Latin America. The expanded agreement and partnership will benefit everyone, decolar.com and also Expedia – not to mention that their hotel partners and also users will enjoy the perks. Users will have wider and bigger access to different types of hotels and accommodations, while the hotels will enjoy different opportunities to allow more guests stay into their properties. Users of Expedia will be able to enjoy more services and hotel access in Latin America, and the same will also happen to users in Latin America, who will be able to enjoy more options in choosing the hotels they want around the world; not only limited to Latin American market.

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Online Method and Worldwide Scale

Since Expedia is included within OTA (Online Travel Agencies) operation that is focusing on online system, there seems to be unwritten rule about the success in OTA. There is a growing trend of traveling, especially in online arrangement and mechanism. Traveling seems to be one of the important elements in today’s lifestyle, and it is one of the reasons why it is always growing and increasing from year to year. It seems that the more expansive the scale is (we are talking about worldwide scale, here), the more appealing it will be. The more various the offers are, the higher possibility there will be to generate handsome profits. Not to mention that the possibility of online travel market and chances will always develop and get bigger, especially in the future. With all these possibilities, it is no wonder if Expedia is striving hard to succeed and be one of the world’s domination.

Expedia has managed to reach success when they acquired wotif.com, the OTA leader in New Zealand and Australia. It seems that Expedia has started their expansion with aggressive mode and results. In 2013, they had been active by acquiring Travelocity for $280 million. And then they acquired wotif.com in 2014 to expand more of their market. As if it weren’t enough, they have made a decision that they wanted to buy Orbitz, the third biggest OTA for around $1.6 billion. Up to now, Expedia has hold around 75% of the traveling market in America alone, especially with their plans of acquiring Orbitz.

Now, Expedia is setting up their focus on Asian market expansion, with focus namely on China. Since they have been working together with eLong (and the fact that Expedia owns 65% of the shares), it really helps smoothen the way. eLong is one of the biggest and leading traveling provider in China, so it is quite logical if Expedia’s plan to expand and grow their business should go well and smoothly. Although the markets in China and Latin American are quite different – it is pretty aggressive in China and not so in Latin America – Expedia is pretty confident that they can deal with those different markets quite fine. After all, they look forward for the increase opportunity in Latin America’s market with the middle class is growing and making potential booking growth. Aside from expanding the business on global platform, the company also plans to reduce its US total revenue to 30% or 40% max from the international sales. So, when is Expedia going to target the African or Middle East region? It is unsure when they are going to set the goal, but it is a worth waiting prospect in the future.

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Latin America’s Growth

So far, the travel scope from Latin America is considered promising and lucrative, since it is one of the largest numbers in global tourism. In fact, in 2013 alone, international trips from Latin America were recorded having 6% growth, which is quite promising. Brazil is the fifth biggest spenders when it comes to international travel, just falling behind Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and also China. It is recorded that Brazil spent around $25 billon for international trips in 2013 alone. With such numbers, it is expected that Brazil’s travel revenue should reach $10 billion by 2016.

Online travel is one of the fastest growing industries in Latin America. Thanks to internet existence, online travel and sales should increase in promising rate in the future. In fact, with the current situation of the promising condition in travel industry, Latin America should be one of the biggest leaders in online traveling growth by 2016 – not to mention that the region has experienced quite impressive increase from year to year basis.

Competition

Expedia’s success doesn’t go without obstruction or hindrance as they should deal with big competitor like Priceline. With Expedia’s movement in making different acquisition here and there, Priceline has also prepared themselves. For a starter, they have decided to acquire the startup for hotel booking specialty, the Rocketmiles, for $20 million. It should be interesting to see how the companies are dealing with the competitions.