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Samsung Keeps Chemicals Secret, Resulting in Over 70 Deaths at South Korean Plant

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Globally speaking, the electronics we enjoy in the west seem to have a severe and sometimes fatal impact on humans in other countries.

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The suicide epidemic at China’s Foxconn, then Apple’s Taiwanese partner’s recent trouble for involuntary, illegal overtime, and now, in the most recent example, the actual death of over 70 employees at one of Samsung’s plants in South Korea. The impetus to protect intellectual property apparently drove the electronics giant to keep harmful chemicals secret from employees. Their fear was that by divulging such basic workplace safety information, “[their] competitiveness would be lowered.” This is the reason the company gave to the government, which went on to assist them in keeping the cancer-causing chemicals a secret from employees and the public.

Leukemia cells

Among the diseases contracted, as documented by a worker-safety group called Banolim, are leukemia, lupus, lymphoma and multiple sclerosis. The group has so far uncovered over 200 such cases, including the 76 who have died. The hazard has been ongoing for years, and in at least six documented cases where an employee had died, the company was not required by the government to inform the bereaved family what chemicals the employee had been exposed to.

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The South Korean government is much different from United States governments in terms of worker’s compensation for workplace injuries, and without this information, the process was made much harder. Although it is illegal for the government to assent to the withholding of this information, there is actually no penalty for so doing.

In terms of progress, Samsung has been here and there. While they have settled with around 100 families, covering all medical expenses and some income loss, they have also withheld information about exposure levels of the chemicals that cause these diseases. Being South Korea’s largest company by far, the company has an incredible amount of influence, and the outcome of any lawsuits by the remaining families might be less than satisfying to them, supposing they won at all.

ILO

The International Labor Organization, of which South Korea’s government is a member, prohibits the use of carcinogenic chemicals in most cases, as per the 1974 Occupational Cancer Convention. Article 5 of that convention’s output states that, “Each Member which ratifies this Convention shall take measures to ensure that workers are provided with such medical examinations or biological or other tests or investigations during the period of employment and thereafter as are necessary to evaluate their exposure and supervise their state of health in relation to the occupational hazards.”

However, if the existence of carcinogenic chemicals in the workplace is kept secret from the beginning, there can be no process to establish whether it is making workers sick or not. Ultimately it may have to be international organizations which step in and regulate the factories of Samsung, which is so embedded in the government that they have been given free reign so far.

Activist group SumOfUs is currently attempting to garner 150,000 signatures from people worldwide in order to pressure Samsung to behave in a way that is friendlier to the health of its employees. A global boycott could certainly have a much greater impact on Samsung’s competitiveness than could the divulging of dangerous chemicals, after all.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsP. H. Madore has covered the cryptocurrency beat over the course of hundreds of articles for Hacked's sister site, CryptoCoinsNews, as well as some of her competitors. He is a major contributing developer to the Woodcoin project, and has made technical contributions on a number of other cryptocurrency projects. In spare time, he recently began a more personalized, weekly newsletter at http://ico.phm.link




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  1. lilyroza

    September 13, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I have many Samsung electronics. But if Samsung cares so little for their workers’ safety, they probably don’t care about my safety or human rights either. I will be looking to manufacturers who are better employers for my futrure purchases.

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First Internet Bancorp: Breaking The Shackles

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Traditional bank stocks have been pretty boring until recently.  Yes, that is changing.  The prospects of a steeper yield curve could make for better earnings in 2018.  But if it weren’t for some of the exciting things to come along in financial technology, the S&P 500 financial index would still be stuck in the rut of underperformance.

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So let’s take a look at one of the early innovators that draw their roots to the small town of Fisher Indiana in 1999.  That was era of landline telephones and dial up Internet.

The Original Internet Bank  

So what makes First Internet Bank (INBK: NASDAQ) different?  For starters, they are the first state-chartered, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) insured Internet bank.

INBK does not have a conventional brick and mortar branch system. It operates through a scalable Internet banking platform.  That may not sound like a big deal since every bank around has mobile banking.

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Everybody in fintech wants to tap into branchless online banking but getting and FDIC charter isn’t so easy. It takes a huge amount of paperwork and lots of time to get approval.

Many startups like Simple attempted to enter the game acting as a broker for FDIC insured banks.  However, under banking rules growing out of the 2008 financial crisis, this proved a tuff road.  

So little old plane vanilla First Internet Bancorp has the key benefit of being an FDIC chartered and insured bank just like the big boys like Citibank and JP Morgan Chase but without the bricks and mortar branches.

INBK’s structure gives them nationwide reach. The implications for costs and customer acquisition being a major benefit.  Until more recently, however, capital limitations put the brakes on major expansion opportunities.  But now, things have changed.

What To Do With $150 Million

On August 8, 2017 INBK filed a registration statement for a $150 million secondary offering with all proceeds going to the company for “general corporate purposes.” Considering the market cap of INBK at the time was about $250 million, the offering was huge.  It substantially bolstered Tier One Capital.  That means for the first time in a while since the financial crisis that INBK could expand its deposit and lending base.

These days INBK’s balance sheet looks darn attractive with cash and deposits more than tripling since 2015 to $656 million and long term investments more than doubling to $2.4 billion.  INBK is exceptionally lean.  They have no long term debt.  When you add up all the fixed overhead like offices, computers and employees, it amounts to just a little under $15 million.  That, as they say, is chump change.  

Full Service Banking

INBK offers the usual assortment of commercial, small business, consumer and municipal banking products and services. They conduct consumer and small business deposit operations primarily through online channels on a nationwide basis and have no traditional branch offices.

Residential mortgage products are offered nationwide primarily through an online direct-to-consumer platform and are supplemented with Central Indiana-based mortgage and construction lending.

Consumer lending products are originated nationwide over the Internet as well as through relationships with dealerships and financing partners.

Commercial banking products and services are delivered through a relationship banking model and include commercial real estate (“CRE”) banking, commercial and industrial (“C&I”) banking and public finance.

A public finance team was established in early 2017, provides a range of public and municipal lending and leasing products to government entities on a nationwide basis.

Free At Last

In 2017 customers shelled out about $45 billion in fees to the banking industry in account service fees, check return fees, overdraft fees and more.  All of this was needed to cover the overhead of the bazillion bank branches.

In 20 years it is possible that 80% of all branches will be replaced by mobile devices. Perhaps there will be none at all.

With no branch overhead to cover, First Internet and others like them can offer appealing perks like free checking, no overdraft or bounced check fees.  That is a big selling point.

Customer Turnover Is Low In Banking

Customers hate those annoying fees but it takes a lot to get them to move.  Costs are often measured on the amount of marketing dollars needed to attract new customers.  There are many ways of measuring these costs so there is no single guide to the true cost.

One bank, BBVA placed the cost at $100.  Other estimates run as high as $145.  Both numbers include the cost of branches.

A study that I participated in several years ago placed the cost for an online bank as low as $50 per new customer.  The difference in these two numbers is just one reason why you should get excited about pure online banks.  First Internet Bank looks well positioned.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.3 stars on average, based on 19 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Business

USA Technologies: Thinking Small To Grow Fast

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Malvern Pennsylvania is the home of USA Technologies, a town of just 3,000 people. In Malvern it pays to think small.  USA Technologies (USAT: NASDGM) is trying to make it big by thinking small.

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The word small ticket comes up frequently in USAT’s self-description. Here is why they want to be a big fish in a small pond.

What They Do For A Living

USAT provides wireless networking, cashless transactions, asset monitoring, and other value-added services to the small ticket, unattended Point of Sale (“POS”) market.  This sounds super cool, but what does it mean?

USAT developed something they call ePort technology.  When it is installed into things like vending machines, commercial laundries, amusement games, or stand alone kiosks so you no longer have to carry cash.  It is another application of network technology and it is spreading rapidly.

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While thinking small, USAT also developed ePort Connect, which amounts to a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)-compliant, comprehensive service that includes simplified credit card processing and support, consumer engagement services as well as telemetry, Internet of Things (“IoT”) and machine-to-machine (“M2M”) services, including the ability to remotely monitor, control, and report on the results of distributed assets containing electronic payment solutions.

Competitive Position

Company CEO Stephen Herbert claims the company is a leading provider in the small ticket, beverage and food vending industry.  They are expanding solutions and services to other unattended market segments, such as amusement, commercial laundry, kiosk and others.

Historically, these businesses have relied on cash for payment in the form of coins or bills, whereas, USAT systems allow the acceptance of cashless payments through the use of credit or debit cards or other emerging contactless forms, such as mobile payment.

How Does USAT Make Money

Revenues are generated from the sale of equipment and from license and transaction fees.  It is this last source that helps make USAT most interesting.

During the fiscal year 2017, 73.0% of revenues came from recurring license and transaction fees related to ePort Connect service and just 27.0% from equipment sales.

CEO Herbert believes that a service based business model, will create a high-margin stream of recurring revenues as a foundation for long-term value and continued growth.

Financials: Small Is Getting Big Quickly

USAT strategy seems to be paying off handsomely.  Revenues over the past five years have been growing a better than a 25% pace going from $29 million in 2012 to $104 million in the year ended June 2017.

For the six months ending December 2017 the company surpassed last years total ringing up about $43 million in revenues, a 30% increase.

In their February 8th earnings release, the company raised guidance for fiscal 2018 revenues to $140-$145 million and for adjusted EBITDA to between $13.5 and $14.5 million.

At this time four Wall Street firms cover the company and these folks expect USAT to earn $0.06 per share this year before tripling in fiscal 2019 to $0.18.

Cantaloupe Acquisition

Back in November USAT signed an $85 million deal to acquire Cantaloupe Systems, Inc based in San Francisco.  Just like USAT, Cantaloupe is a provider of cloud and mobile solutions for vending, micro markets and office coffee service.  The two companies tout the deal as bringing together complementary portfolios for the purpose of creating the industry’s top solutions platform.

The acquisition had only minor benefits to reported USAT first half results.  On a pro-forma basis, if the acquisition had occurred on July 1, 2016, first half consolidated revenue would have increased 26% year-over-year.

Management With Beverage Industry Background

CEO Stephen Herbert has considerable history in the beverage industry and has been CEO at USAT for over 5 years. In other words, he needs no on the job training.

For the 10 years prior to joining USAT in 1996, Herbert had been with Pepsi-Cola in their beverage division vending area.

The company believes Herbert’s intimate knowledge and experience with all aspects of USAT for over 20 years and his extensive vending experience at PepsiCo before joining USAT provide the requisite qualifications, skills, perspectives, and experiences to serve.  We would tend to agree.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.3 stars on average, based on 19 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Analysis

Dow Drops As Cryptos Pop

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Inflation is the enemy of stock and bond investors but this is when crypto is coming to the rescue.  The market awoke to a Valentine’s Day present called the January Consumer Price Index.  It was borderline ugly at 0.5%.  After the opening, the Dow was down 142 points. At this time cryptos are going in the opposite direction: Bitcoin + 9 %, Bitcoin Cash +11%, Ether +8 % and Litecoin + 35%.   Is this a one time event or is there there a lasting connection.  Let’s take a look.

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Inflationary expectations drive the stock and bond markets.  It is not how much any one month reading shows, it is the way the market extrapolates a single month into the future. For the last 20+ years, inflationary expectations have been coming down and this has been the fuel that has fired the stock and bond markets.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the Federal Reserve has been targeting a 2% rate of price increases.  Most times they have fallen short of their goal. This is no more the case.  The January increase annualizes to 6%.  If this were a one month event it could be ignored.  However, over the last six months since August, inflation has averaged 4% on a yearly basis. That is a troubling sign for several reasons.

Inflationary Expectations Are Growing  

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It is hardly news that the global economy has fully recovered from the financial crisis of 2008.  For the US this means the longest economic recovery in modern history.  The signs of excesses are showing.  Labor markets are much tighter than anytime in the past 50 years.  Costs have to be rising especially for the most highly sought after positions in technology and finance.

Debt financed consumer spending was adding to inflationary expectations even before the $1.5 trillion Trump Tax Cut and plans to increase spending.  Goldman Sachs CEO called this combination like throwing a bit more lighter fluid on a fire that was already going.  His concern is that the economy will get overheated, forcing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster.

Add to this the news that inflation hawk Loretta Mester was being considered for the post of Fed Vice Chair and that is all that is necessary to shake investor confidence.

Storehouse Of Value

In times like this when investors are seeking safety from declining stock and bond prices, gold has been the go to storehouse of value.  Gold investors got their Valentines candy with the price shooting up over 1.5% on the day.  OK that is cool but we can’t ignore the fact that cryptocurrencies had their best day in a long time.  What is that all about?  Against the opinion of all the critics, are cryptocurrencies finally being viewed by investors as their own unique storehouse of value.

Granted recent crypto volatility makes it hard to put Bitcoin or Ether into the same category as other assets like gold.  But today’s price divergence reminds us that Bitcoin’s fixed number of coins was designed and intended to be independent of global government policies that create excess debt or excessive expansion that results increased inflationary expectations.

Blockchain technology in general is showing up more and more as a cost saving mechanism. Of course, Ethereum with its smart contracts and open source platform stand out.  

Separating Fact From Opinion

Are cryptocurrencies gaining believers as a storehouse of value.  That is one opinion. Obviously, it will take much more time to develop enough data to measure the correlation. Several things seem clear.  The massive crypto price correction that started back in December has taken a whole lot of fluff off of crypto markets.  That’s a good thing.

In recent times, prices have been directionless as investors tried to figure what to do next. During this time there was an overabundance of technical analysis but an absence of any fundamental compelling reason the buy.  Valentines Day news that pushed up inflationary expectations may have provided the single most important reason in many weeks. The critics may be right that cryptocurrencies have a way to go before becoming a storehouse of value, but at current levels, they seem to be an attractive value nonetheless.  Stay tuned for more.   

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.3 stars on average, based on 19 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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