40% of Venezuelan Businesses Close After 3000% Minimum Wage Increase

Venezuelan workers who got a pittance are now getting a slightly higher pay, thanks to a 3000% increase in their minimum wage. What they may not have, though, are jobs.

Seven million employees are now guaranteed 1,800 bolivars per month, which is worth about $20 at the black-market rate, after a minimum wage hike. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro proposed the change to increase his popularity, but it’s having the opposite effect. Businesses, already hit by Venezuela’s financial collapse, tell employees they can’t afford to pay them.

“The government sector has the monopoly on imports, the currency market is dysfunctional and there’s hyperinflation,” said Economist Orlando Ochoa. “So, if salaries are increased by decree, and the commercial and industrial sectors cannot sell their products because of these problems, and on top of that because of electricity blackouts, infrastructure problems and the loss of qualified personnel, which is leaving the country, then it’s easy to understand that many may prefer to close.”

Even though there have been multiple comparable moves in the past, none has ever been so disruptive, arriving amid a depression, hyperinflation, and devaluation.

Some companies are restructuring expenses and arranging settlements with employees. Other businesses are just firing workers. Much of the development occurs secretively as employers attempt to evade backlash by the government, which has been detaining those it considers are breaking the rules.

“We have inspections, and they force us to sell at last month’s prices,” said María Carolina Uzcátegui, president the National Council of Commerce and Services of Venezuela. “That takes money away from the business because of the hyperinflation when you can’t even sell at yesterday’s prices because you lose money.”

She adds: “And anyone who protests against these measures runs the risk of going to jail, without the right to appeal, without the right to anything, simply because the official whose turn it was to inspect the store just felt like arresting you. He did it, and that’s all.”

Marcos Vizcaino, 56, a garage owner in Caracas, stated that the wage rise was the definitive setback for his family business of two generations. Vizcaino said the lack of spare parts and hyperinflation had already complicated matters and ended up bringing in less than one customer each day.

“I already told my four employees to go find other jobs,” he said. “I’ve decided to close. There’s no need for me to keep losing money for a third year in a row.”

Nike Shares Recover After Kaepernick Advertisement Sparks Boycott

Nike shares recovered their losses on Monday after their contentious publicity campaign featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick initially spurred a drop in their shares. The campaign, released to celebrate Nike’s 30th anniversary of their slogan “Just Do it,” sparked both backlash and support of the brand. (more…)

Google Introduces New Startups To Launchpad Studio, Partners With Four Indian Banks

Google just introduced a new group of startup businesses into Launchpad Studio, the tech behemoth’s accelerator it launched last year that matches top machine learning startups and experts from Silicon Valley with Google – its people, network, and advanced technologies.

While the accelerator’s first group was meant to gather new insights from medical data, this most recent one is meant to shake up well-known financial markets and systems.

Accurately reviewing and analyzing millions of data points tied to locations, demographics, and financial situations will result in information helpful to the financial sector.

Some of the new startups include:

Celo (USA) – growing financial inclusion through a mobile-first cryptocurrency.

GuiaBolso (Brazil) – improving the economic lives of Brazilians.

Starling Bank (UK) – improving financial well-being with a mobile-only bank.

Frontier Car Group (Germany) – investing in the ever-changing process of used-car marketplaces.

Inclusive (Ghana) – verifying identities across Africa.

Aye Finance (India) – remodeling financing in India.

m.Paani (India) – powering local businesses and the next one billion users in India.

India and the United States are the only countries with more than one business in Google’s latest Launchpad Studio accelerator additions – With two startups coming from these countries.

In addition, Google is partnering with four Indian banks to issue customer loans online, as the battle for the $1 trillion digital finance market persists. 

The banks partnering with the search engine are HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and Federal Bank.

They will offer instant, pre-approved loans to consumers “right within Google Pay in a matter of seconds.”

Google also re-branded its made-in-India Tez app, launched in September, as Google Pay.

The app’s users can take out customized loans and get the funds transferred straight into their bank account.

“We’ve learned that when we build for India, we build for the world,” Caesar Sengupta, vice-president of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative and Payments, said at the “Google for India” meet in New Delhi.

Over 55-million people in more than 300,000 towns and villages have downloaded Google’s payments app to pay for dinner, bus rides, or other services.

In total, Google estimates about $30 billion in annual transactions through the Tez app.

Google also announced that it’s expanding its Google Station internet access program to 12,000 villages and cities throughout the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

The search-engine will add more Indian language content through a publishing venture called Project Navlekha, and will also add a new feature in Google Go that allows users to listen to websites read aloud in English and five different Indian languages.

Cards Like Wirex’s Put Cryptocurrencies in Your Wallet

Usually, when people think about cryptocurrency, it’s on hard drives, cell phones or third-party exchanges. But, cryptocurrency debit cards have long been an exciting frontier for crypto-enthusiasts.

The large San Francisco-based exchange, Coinbase, has offered a debit card, the Shift Payment Card, which allows users to gain access to their cryptocurrency just like their bank accounts. But, the largest cryptocurrency exchange is hardly alone in offering such a service. (more…)

Former Digital Gold Developers Launch Token Sale for Cash, Micro-Lending System

(GoldSilverBitcoin) – Everex, formerly Midas Reserv, is making waves in the crypto-cash industry thanks to its contributions in cash-transfer technologies. Based on the Ethereum blockchain, Everex’s central product, Cryptocash, allows individuals to transfer cash across borders instantly in form of national currency on a blockchain. Applicable to remittance and cash transfers, Cryptocash is a digitized form of cash backed by national currencies thanks to Everex’s partner institutions. (more…)