Stanchion fast-tracks JMMB’s Customer Experience and Fraud Initiatives

JMMB, one of the leading financial groups in the Caribbean, has partnered with Stanchion Payment Solutions, global specialists in payment solutions and integrations, to reduce fraudulent card transaction activity and create new customer communication experiences.

JMMB is the first bank to deploy the latest version (v3.0) of Stanchion’s Digital Payments platform, VERTO. VERTO is used by financial organisations globally and provides payment orchestration, data transformation and enrichment services.

Through this partnership, Stanchion provides JMMB with a multi-pronged approach to fraud. A rules-based engine declines suspicious activity, while VERTO enables transaction alerts – empowering JMMB’s customers to react to suspicious transactions. The flexibility of VERTO’s innovative rules engine allows JMMB to selectively send different alerts over multiple channels depending on the nature of the transactions and the cardholders’ preferences. For example, clients can choose to be alerted via SMS or email for all new transactions or only via SMS for above-threshold values. When a transaction is identified as matching fraud conditions, a specific alert is sent to the customer.

JMMB operates in multiple regions with different rules, currencies and requirements; all of which are accommodated by Stanchion’s offering.

With the VERTO solution now fully deployed, JMMB also has access to a platform for future innovation and payment modernisation.

“We chose to partner with Stanchion because they are payments experts who we can rely on for both our day-to-day and strategic payments needs. Their global footprint has meant that we are able to leverage their international expertise,” says JMMB Group CEO, Jerome Smalling.

Stanchion CEO, Steve Kirrage, emphasised the value of this new partnership. “Stanchion’s latest release of VERTO signifies a significant milestone in our drive to simplify payments integration and innovation. The value to JMMB is measurable immediately, but we are also excited about the opportunities to continue engaging with JMMB in future innovation initiatives.” says Kirrage.

Global growth to slow through 2023 due to continued COVID-19 flare-ups – New Global Economic Prospects report

After rebounding to an estimated 5.5 percent in 2021, global growth is expected to decelerate markedly to 4.1 percent in 2022, reflecting continued COVID-19 flare-ups, diminished fiscal support, and lingering supply bottlenecks, according to a New Global Economic Prospects report.

The COVID-19 upsurge comes as the vaccine supply crunch persists.. Photo credit: United Nations

In contrast to that in advanced economies, output in emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) will remain substantially below the pre-pandemic trend over the forecast horizon.

The global outlook is clouded by various downside risks, including renewed COVID-19 outbreaks due to Omicron or new virus variants, the possibility of de-anchored inflation expectations, and financial stress in a context of record-high debt levels.

The report states that if some countries eventually require debt restructuring, this will be more difficult to achieve than in the past.

Climate change may increase commodity price volatility, creating challenges for the almost two-thirds of EMDEs that rely heavily on commodity exports and highlighting the need for asset diversification. Social tensions may heighten as a result of the increase in between-country and within-country inequality caused by the pandemic. Given limited policy space in EMDEs to support activity if needed, these downside risks increase the possibility of a hard landing.

These challenges underscore the importance of strengthened global cooperation to foster rapid and equitable vaccine distribution, proactive measures to enhance debt sustainability in the poorest countries, redoubled efforts to tackle climate change and within-country inequality, and an emphasis on growth-enhancing policy interventions to promote green, resilient, and inclusive development and on reforms that broaden economic activity to decouple from global commodity markets.

Climate change may increase commodity price volatility

The near-term outlook for global growth is somewhat weaker, and for global inflation notably higher, than previously envisioned, owing to pandemic resurgence, higher food and energy prices, and more pernicious supply disruptions. Global growth is projected to soften further to 3.2 percent in 2023, as pent-up demand wanes and supportive macroeconomic policies continue to be unwound.

However, the report further noted that although output and investment in advanced economies are projected to return to pre-pandemic trends next year, in emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs)— particularly in small states and fragile and conflict -afflicted countries—they will remain markedly below, owing to lower vaccination rates, tighter fiscal and monetary policies, and more persistent scarring from the pandemic.

Hyundai downs internal combustion engine development

Hyundai announced that it is shutting down its internal combustion engine development team as the automaker focuses on electric cars.

For 40 years the Korean automaker has been developing internal combustion engines to use in its vehicle lineup, but no more.

The Korea Economic Daily reports that Hyundai’s new R&D chief Park Chung-kook confirmed in an email to employees that they are shutting down new engine development:

“Now, it is inevitable to convert into electrification. Our own engine development is a great achievement, but we must change the system to create future innovation based on the great asset from the past.”

Hyundai reportedly had 12,000 people working on engines, but they are now being transferred to EV powertrain development:

“Researchers at the engine design unit have moved to the electrification design center, leaving only some to modify existing engines. The powertrain system development center is transforming into an electrification test center, while the powertrain performance development center is becoming an electrification performance development center.”

Park added on the change:

“The immediate task is to develop innovative vehicles that can dominate the future market. This reorganization will be an important starting point for change ahead in the new year.”

In the past, Hyundai has been reticent in committing fully to electric vehicles.

The automaker is still heavily invested in hydrogen fuel cells, but it is beginning to get some success with battery-electric vehicles with the launch of the Ioniq 5.

A full lineup of Ioniq battery-electric vehicles is expected to follow as the automaker is increasingly investing in the technology, which most industry watchers agree will power the entire automotive space before long.

Sierra Leone cement factory ownership changes hands

HeidelbergCement has signed an agreement to sell its subsidiary Sierra Leone Cement Corporation Ltd. (Leocem) to the Diamond Cement Group.

HeidelbergCement holds 50% of the shares in the company and has full management responsibility.

The sale includes a cement grinding plant with two grinding mills. The plant is located in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown and has a capacity of approximately 500 000 tpy.

The divestment is part of HeidelbergCement’s ongoing portfolio optimisation and margin improvement programme within its ‘Beyond 2020’ strategy.

In West Africa, HeidelbergCement will continue to focus on its core markets in Ghana, Liberia, Togo, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Gambia.

Scientists convert plastic waste into vanilla flavoring

In the future, your vanilla ice cream may be made from plastic bottles. Scientists have figured out a way to convert plastic waste into vanilla flavoring with genetically engineered bacteria, according to a new study.

Vanillin, the compound that carries most of the smell and taste of vanilla, can be extracted naturally from vanilla beans or made synthetically. About 85% of vanillin is currently made from chemicals taken from fossil fuels, according to The Guardian

Vanillin is found in a wide variety of food, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, cleaning and herbicide products, and the demand is “growing rapidly,” the authors wrote in the study. In 2018, the global demand for vanillin was about 40,800 tons (37,000 metric tons), and it’s expected to grow to 65,000 tons (59,000 metric tons) by 2025, according to the study, published June 10 in the journal Green Chemistry.

The demand for vanillin “far exceeds” the vanilla bean supply, so scientists have resorted to synthetically producing vanillin. For the new study, researchers used a novel method to convert plastic waste into vanillin, as a way to both supply vanillin and reduce plastic pollution.

Previous studies showed how to break down plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate into its basic subunit, known as terephthalic acid. In the new study, two researchers at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland genetically engineered E. coli bacteria to convert terephthalic acid into vanillin.  Terephthalic acid and vanillin have very similar chemical compositions and the engineered bacteria only needs to make minor changes to the number of hydrogens and oxygens that are bonded to the same carbon backbone. 

The researchers mingled their genetically engineered bacteria with terephthalic acid and kept them at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degree Celsius) for a day, according to The Guardian. About 79% of the terephthalic acid subsequently converted into vanillin. 

The global plastic waste crisis is now recognized as one of the most pressing environmental issues facing our planet,” the authors wrote in the study. About 1 million plastic bottles are sold every minute around the world, and only 14% are recycled, according to The Guardian. Those that are recycled can only be turned into fibers for clothing or carpets. 

“Our work challenges the perception of plastic being a problematic waste and instead demonstrates its use as a new carbon resource from which high-value products can be made,” co-author Stephen Wallace, a senior lecturer in biotechnology at The University of Edinburgh, told The Guardian.

Now, the study authors hope to further improve the bacteria to be able to convert even more terephthalic acid into vanillin.

Read more about this technology in The Guardian.

Originally published on Live Science.

Mattress Manufacturer to Open Another South Carolina Factory

MLILY USA told the Rock Hill Herald that it anticipates opening a 300,000-square-foot facility by late June. The company expects to hire 150 workers in the Charlotte, North Carolina, suburb.

MLILY officials said in an announcement that the Rock Hill expansion would help the company meet the growing demand for foam and hybrid mattresses, adjustable bases, and pillows. MLILY President Stephen Chen said the company, which seeks to produce all materials and components in-house at its facilities, set a U.S. sales record last year and aims to double its revenue this year and in each of the next two years.

“The new facility in South Carolina will strengthen our identity as a viable resource for U.S. consumers, who are increasingly interested in buying made-in-America products, and will bolster our ability to ship quickly to our customers and provide best-in-class customer service,” Chen said.

The project would increase MLILY’s workforce in South Carolina to about 400; its first U.S. production facility opened in nearby Winnsboro in 2019. The company, a subsidiary of China-based Healthcare Co. Ltd., is based in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Image Credit: Mlily USA

Coca-Cola Creates Buzz With Drone Delivery of Coke-coffee Crossover

As part of a launch stunt, select customers who live in single-family residences within a one-mile radius of Coffee County’s Walmart Supercenter could have their coke-coffee fix delivered via drone.

According to the enthusiasts at DroneDJ, the drone appeared to be a customized DJI Matrice 600 Pro with four arms to hold the package during flight and a tether system to lower the product at the drop-off location. This enabled the drone operators to avoid any risk of the drone coming into contact with people on the ground.

Coca-Cola with Coffee and its zero-sugar option are infused with Brazilian coffee and come in a variety of flavors. Coca-Cola with Coffee is available in Dark Blend, Vanilla, and Caramel, while its zero-sugar counterpart comes in Dark Blend and Vanilla. Each 12-oz. can contains 69 mg of caffeine. A 12-oz. can of standard Coke contains 34 mg, Diet Coke contains 46 mg, while the same-sized coffee has 140 mg or more.

The U.S. is the 50th market to launch the crossover, which premiered in Japan in 2018.  A press release from Coca-Cola explains that the crossover is aimed at customers who enjoy both coffee and coke.

“Many people are often torn between reaching for a soft drink or a coffee at 3 p.m. at work, at school or on the go. Now, you don’t need to leave Coca-Cola to get your coffee fix,” said Brandan Strickland, a brand director for Coca-Cola Trademark.

In product testing, of consumers who tried Coca-Cola with Coffee, over 80% said they would buy it—a positive sign for the company after the 2006 failure of a similar concept, Coca-Cola Blak.