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from Breakingviews:

PayPal forced to rev after eBay’s belated U-turn

By Rob Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

PayPal is compelled to accelerate after eBay’s belated U-turn. The $70 billion online auction company has for years resisted setting free its payments business, most recently digging in its heels against Carl Icahn’s demands to do so. Apple and Alibaba have created more urgency than investors, or Breakingviews, could. EBay squandered a big early advantage, but a spun-off PayPal may have a chance to play catch-up.

Being owned by eBay proved valuable early on for PayPal. The innovative internet flea market provided a steady flow of new customers, cash and logistical support to help it grow. PayPal regularly increased total payments at a 25 percent compound rate.

The warm embrace, however, eventually started to smother. More than 70 percent of PayPal’s payments now come from outside eBay, but the ownership structure prevented close partnerships with the likes of Amazon. At the same time, app developers and customers have grown frustrated with PayPal’s software, customer service and sluggish adaptation to new technology. Departed co-founder Elon Musk warned two years ago that the plan he wrote at the turn of the century was essentially still in place and that if PayPal didn’t act quickly it would be “screwed.”

from Breakingviews:

Uncle Sam gets wires crossed on data privacy

By Reynolds Holding

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Uncle Sam has gotten his wires crossed on internet data privacy. A hacker went to prison for exposing private customer information that AT&T failed to protect from online access. Now U.S. prosecutors are defending their right to do essentially the same thing in the Silk Road drug-website case. Anti-hacking laws are tough to take seriously when even enforcers can’t decide what’s allowed.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Safeguard customers’ personal information; regulators are watching

By Julie DiMauro, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Sept. 19, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - In a sanction that can serve as a wake-up to the financial industry, Verizon Communications last week agreed to pay $7.4 million to end an investigation that found it failed to tell two million new customers about their privacy rights before using their information for marketing purposes, the Federal Communications Commission said.

The privacy probe highlights the vigilance that must be paid to consumer privacy rights to meet regulators’ requirements. Although the financial industry mostly answers to different regulators, it too is subject to laws and regulations protecting the privacy of its customers.

from Breakingviews:

Larry Ellison cedes driver seat with hand on wheel

By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Larry Ellison is ceding the driver’s seat at Oracle while keeping one hand on wheel. The software giant’s founder is stepping down as chief executive officer, but his 25 percent stake in the company – and dual role as chairman and chief technology officer – ensure he’s far from relinquishing control. Splitting his former job between two executives could, however, lead to a bumpy transition.

from Breakingviews:

VC bigwigs reveal Valley’s contradictions

By Richard Beales

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

A venture capitalist who can co-opt the opening lines of “Anna Karenina” to make a business point deserves attention. In Peter Thiel’s case, he also started PayPal and Palantir Technologies and invested early on in Facebook. His new book, “Zero to One,” describes possible features of the next peerless, world-changing startup – another Google, say.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba’s small IPO hike leaves room for believers

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Pricing initial public offerings is an inexact science. Predicting how investors will value a large, fast-growing Chinese e-commerce group involves even more guesswork. That makes Alibaba’s decision to lift the maximum price for its upcoming stock market debut by just $2 a share to $68 puzzling.

from Breakingviews:

Apple cooks up recipe to empty pockets and wallets

By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

Apple has cooked up a recipe for emptying pockets and wallets. In addition to unveiling two new smartphones, the tech giant has combined a fingerprint sensor and an overlooked app into an iPhone payment system that looks secure and easy to use. A new watch lacks obvious appeal but has potential to replace car keys and other pocket detritus. Higher profits may be the cherry on top.

from Breakingviews:

LendingClub IPO mixes disruption with confusion

By Kevin Allison and Daniel Indiviglio

The authors are Breakingviews columnists. The views they express are their own. 

LendingClub is positioning itself as one of the biggest challengers to American banks. The company is growing quickly, has backing from the likes of Google and lists former Morgan Stanley boss John Mack and ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers among its directors. It’s also planning an initial public offering. But there are reasons to be cautious.

from Breakingviews:

Home Depot hack scarier than Hollywood breach

By Richard Beales

The author is a Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It’s no surprise that stolen nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence attract more attention than a nerdy report on Home Depot’s security breach. But it’s an unfortunate reality that Hollywood celebrities need to guard their privacy, whether threatened by paparazzi or hackers. Corporate breaches that expose millions of people to financial loss are, on the other hand, in a different league.

With Home Depot, it’s not yet clear what the scale of any hacking may have been, or whether the company’s systems were violated despite strong defenses. But security blogger Brian Krebs said he had received information suggesting the Home Depot episode could be larger than last year’s hack of Target. That attack, which he first publicized, exposed the credit card data of at least 40 million customers.

from Breakingviews:

Square swipes a hollow-looking $6 bln valuation

By Robert Cyran

The author is a Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Square is starting to look oddly hollow. The payments company set up and run by Jack Dorsey is set to raise $200 million in new funding, according to Bloomberg. That would value the company at $6 billion. While big, it’s a deflated figure, considering Square’s former hype, the small amount raised, and tech rivals’ ease securing higher valuations.

Square’s credit card readers for smartphones and tablets are easily spotted in the wilds of flea markets and coffee shops. They are easy to use, and the 2.75 percent they charge per swipe is relatively appealing for small transactions. Last year the company racked up more than $500 million in revenue.

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