Walmart to Raise Wages for 100,000 U.S. Workers

Wal-Mart Announces Its Increasing WagesWalmart Stores (WMT) will raise minimum wages for more than 100,000 of its U.S. workers in some departments starting in July, the second time the world’s largest retailer has announced a wage hike this year.

Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States with 1.3 million U.S. workers, has been targeted by labor groups in the past for its minimum wages.

The company said in February that it would raise minimum wages for 500,000 U.S. employees, triggering a wave of wage hikes by retailers and restaurant chains including McDonald’s (MCD), Target (TGT) and TJX (TJX).

Walmart said Tuesday that it would increase the wages of managers of service-oriented departments such as electronics and auto care to $13 to $24.70 an hour from $10.30 to $20.09 currently.

Hourly wage of managers of departments such as clothing and consumer products will rise to $10.90 to $20.71 from $9.90 to $19.31.

At specialized areas such as the deli sections, workers will earn $9.90 to $18.81 an hour compared with $9.20 to $18.53 currently.

The Associated Press first reported the news.

Labor and other groups have been pushing for a higher federal minimum wage, which was last raised in 2009 to $7.25 an hour. In the 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

“[Walmart’s wage increases] pretty much ends the debate about whether there should be a minimum wage increase, the question now is exactly how much,” Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University, told Reuters.

Walmart will also start paying store associates 10 percent more an hour when they are promoted, starting with their Aug. 13 paycheck, Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said.

This means the minimum increase in hourly wages of an associate who has been promoted will rise to 90 cents from about 50 cents currently.

The wage increases seem aimed at discouraging unionization among workers, Chaison said. “The general feeling is, ‘Why join the union to negotiate with Walmart when Walmart takes care of its own?’ ” he said.

Walmart has 4,540 Walmart stores and about 650 Sam’s Club stores in the United States.

The company said in February that it would raise hourly entry-level wages for half a million U.S. employees to at least $9 starting April and then to $10 by Feb. 1, 2016.

Walmart’s shares were little changed at $74.61 in late morning trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Nintendo Posts Annual Profit on Wii U Sales Growth, Weak Yen

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Nintendo said Thursday it swung to $350 million annual profit thanks to a weak yen and upbeat sales of its Wii U console, but the Japanese videogame giant warned its bottom line would shrink this year.The Super Mario creator reported a 41.8 billion yen ($350 million) net profit for the fiscal year to March reversing 23.2 billion yen loss a year ago while it forecasted a lower 35 billion yen net profit this fiscal year.

Revenue in the latest period slipped 3.8 percent to 549.8 billion yen, it said, as the company was hit by weaker demand for its 3DS portable games console.

The company is hoping to offset weakening demand for some of its consoles with plans to jump into the smartphone gaming market a long awaited move away from its consoles-only policy.

“A new source of revenue is expected from a gaming application for smart devices which will be released this year,” Nintendo said Thursday.

A sharp drop in the yen has helped make Japanese exporters such as Nintendo more competitive overseas while it also inflates the value of their repatriated profits.

The company benefited from stronger sales of the Wii U, shifting 3.38 million units against 2.72 million units in the year-earlier period, while sales of game software rose nearly 30 percent.

“With respect to ‘Wii U,’ Nintendo released two hit titles, ‘Mario Kart 8’ and ‘Super Smash Bros. for Wii U,’ which enjoyed robust sales,” it said in a statement.

“These titles continued to perform well especially overseas, and the global sales of the ‘Wii U’ hardware and software reached 3.38 million and 24.40 million units respectively,” it added.

The relatively strong results come as Nintendo moves past three straight years of operating losses.

Last year, company president Satoru Iwata said he would slash his salary in half for several months to atone for the struggles at the one-time industry titan.

The maker of the Donkey Kong and Pokemon franchises has struggled as rivals Sony and Microsoft outpaced it in console sales.

All three companies are also fighting off a trend toward cheap or sometimes free downloadable games for smartphones and other mobile devices.

5 Dangers of Mobile Banking – and How to Avoid Them

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Managing your money has never been so easy. With the rise of mobile banking, paying your bills and checking your balance can be as simple as posting a photo to your Instagram feed. But there’s a price to pay for the convenience of depositing checks from anywhere in the world with a simple click of your mobile camera. That price is the increased risk that your private data and access to your accounts could fall into the wrong hands.

“As additional people flock to the mobile channel and transactions multiply, the bad guys are paying attention and deploying more attacks against it,” banking fraud expert Julie Conroy warns. The best way to protect yourself, of course, is to know the risks. Read on for our guide to the dangers of mobile banking and foolproof tips on how to avoid them.

1. Wireless Networks Are Hacker-Friendly

Unlike websites, mobile apps don’t properly encrypt information, which means it’s not a good idea to access your bank account via mobile app when you’re on a public or otherwise unsecured Wi-Fi network. As computer science expert Ron Vetter explains, “mobile banking apps are connected to wireless networks, and these networks are inherently insecure as they broadcast their messages into the open air.”

If you plan to use a mobile app to conduct a sensitive transaction, you’re better off using a secure wireless network or your phone’s data network. This will help reduce the risk of your private information being intercepted by a hacker or some other third party.

2. Poor Reception Means Poor Security

Even if you’re diligent in accessing your mobile banking app on your phone’s data network rather than a wireless network, the security of your financial information could still be at risk if your 4G or 3G data drops into a lower service range. Poor reception invites the chance that the data contained in your banking transaction could misfire and be intercepted by an unauthorized third party.

3. There’s More at Stake If You Lose Your Phone

Studies show that nearly 40 percent of smartphone owners don’t password-protect their devices. If any of those folks were to lose their phone, anyone could pick it up, log into their banking app, and access their money. Even if you do password protect your phone, you could still be putting yourself at risk by auto-saving your password. For optimal security, select “no” when any of your apps ask to remember your username and password. You can further help protect yourself from fraudsters who gain access to your phone by installing a remote-wiping application that allows you to erase your phone’s data even when the device isn’t physically in your possession.

4. You May Have to Wait to Access Newly Deposited Funds

Although you can deposit funds into your account instantly via a mobile banking app, there may be a longer lag than normal until you can access those funds. “In many cases, [banks] will protect themselves against fraud by increasing the delay in the availability of funds, as compared to if you’d just deposit that check in an ATM or branch,” Conroy says.

5. Fraudulent Apps May Deceive You

Mobile apps can cost you — even the free ones. Fraudulent apps posing as your official banking institution are lurking throughout the app store, and if you unknowingly start using one, the app creators can access — and abuse — your private information. Download your app directly from your bank’s website to avoid this scam. And if you use Android, set your security settings to abort installations from sources other than Google Play.

Her Business Is All About Making Money From Your Divorce

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As any couple going through divorce will tell you, breaking up is expensive to do. Sometimes the richer the couple, the harder it is for one party to pay attorneys and track down assets. More money, more problems. Stacey Napp believes she can level the playing field.
“I was very fortunate,” Napp said of her own divorce, in 2008. “I came from a family that had resources, I went to law school, I had been [working] in debt collection for awhile, so I had all the components that you would want to have in a bad situation like this.” After her divorce was final, Napp realized other people weren’t as fortunate, and she learned that divorce attorneys are barred by law from working for contingency fees. “That was really the ‘aha!’ or epiphany moment,” she said.

In 2009, she formed Balance Point Divorce Funding, a Beverly Hills, California, company that finances the cost of a divorce in exchange for a percentage of any settlement. If there’s no award, Napp not only doesn’t make any money, she loses the money she invested. “We haven’t lost money on a case yet,” she said, literally knocking on wood. “We’ve funded probably over 25 cases now.” Clients include Patricia Cohen, the ex-wife of SAC Capital Advisors founder Steve Cohen. The former Mrs. Cohen believes her ex owes her millions of dollars from their divorce over 20 years ago, according to The New York Times.

How It Works

Napp funded the company with her own divorce settlement, proved that the business model worked, and investors came on board. Here’s how Balance Point finances a divorce:

  • Potential clients are asked how long they’ve been in divorce proceedings, who their lawyers and experts are, and how much they believe they’re due from a spouse.
  • Napp asks the client’s lawyer to come up with a budget for the total estimated cost of pursuing a divorce all the way through trial — though most are settled ahead of time.
  • Balance Point does its own due diligence and decides whether a potential settlement is worth an investment. Napp said her return on investment averages in the double digits.
  • If the company funds a divorce, the money is doled out in tranches.
  • Assuming the client wins a settlement, as much as 25 percent of it goes to Balance Point.

Say, hypothetically, that a woman believes she is due $10 million based on a couple’s assets, worth $20 million. Taking the case all the way to trial might cost $750,000. Balance Point will fund $750,000 but in $150,000 increments. The more a client draws down, the higher the percentage he or she owes Napp from any eventual settlement.

In determining how much of a percentage to ask for, Napp decided to stay below the 33 percent that’s typical of attorneys who operate on a contingency basis (again, divorce attorneys cannot work for contingency fees).

Gender Divide

“We start as low, quite frankly, as a one-digit percentage,” she said. “Typically we don’t go above 25 percent.” Most clients are women. All of its investors are men. Nearly all of the women who’ve received funding are divorcing men with self-made fortunes. Of the few men who’ve received funding, all are going up against wives who inherited their wealth.

Balance Point is expanding its services into funding asset recovery, and Napp is considering moving into funding custody battles. Napp won’t name names, but she says her craziest case at the moment involves a man who works as a criminal informant for the government. “He’s being protected, the assets are being hidden, and there is a level of complicity that you cannot believe,” she said.

There are some cases that Napp won’t touch, however, like the woman divorcing a man whose money is in Dubai. “I said, ‘You’re a woman with a judgment going into an Arab country. I think you’re going to have a worthless judgment at the end of the day. I can’t fund this.'”

She also won’t work with people who aren’t willing to compromise. “You’re not going to get everything. You shouldn’t expect to get everything,” she said. “Take a haircut, walk away with your sanity, walk away with time in your life, and start over.”

Path Talk update lets you text businesses

Path updated their Talk app today, and it brings in one striking feature that might have you using their messaging app. You can now text your questions to a business, and get an answer back in a few minutes. Well, on your end it looks like you’re texting a business — it’s a bit more complex than that, though.


Under the “laces” tab in Path Talk you’ll see a list of local businesses. In there, you can text a question to that business. Something like “is the line really long right now?”, or “do you still have tickets for the 5:00 showing of (your new favorite movie)?”.

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That text is sent to Path, who in turn call the business for you. The business never gets an actual text from you, because that would involve a ton of infrastructure, and as we’ve pointed out before — not many people use Path.

Instead, Path relies on their own agents to call those businesses you’re asking questions of. So your question goes to Path, and they’ll respond with what the business tells them. It’s great for those times you can’t get away easily, or need to query multiple sources in short order.

This is the result of Path’s TalkTo acquisition earlier this year. TalkTo offered pretty much the same thing, it’s just been re-branded as Path, and cobbled into their app.

It’s a neat idea, and in testing it out, we got great results. Answers came back to us in a matter of minutes. For those times you need to find something out on the go, or don’t want to wait on hold, Talk is great.

McDonald’s launches its own version of Burger King’s black burger

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Burger King has attracted a lot of attention recently with the all-black burger it launched in Japan — something that we braved a taste of and gave two thumbs-up. Not to be left out of the limelight is McDonald’s, which has moved ahead with its own similar gimmick in Japan, introducing its own squid-ink offering.

You might have seen pictures of it surface on Twitter or Instagram — a burger from McDonald’s in Japan that features a very dark (though not charcoal black) bun, making it odd in appearance but not as ostensibly bizarre as Burger King’s offering. It is called the “ikasumi” burger, which means “squid ink burger”.

It would seem, then, that McDonald’s has elected to use buns colored by squid ink, and given the design of the boxes (featuring orange and a witch’s silhouette) shown in the pictures, the unique coloring might be part of some Halloween-centric theme or promotion.

It is being reported the burgers are only be offered by a limited number of stores inside of Shinjuku, so depending on where you are in Tokyo, you might have to take a bit of a trip to get one for yourself. Have you tried one? Let us know what you think!

Motorola overtakes Nokia to become India’s 4th largest smartphone vendor

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Motorola is the fourth largest smartphone vendor by shipments in Q2 2014, overtaking Nokia (Microsoft), according to handset sales tracker Canalys. Few months back Motorola announced that it shipped 6.5 million smartphones globally in Q1 2014. According to the report, Motorola shipped 379,310 units of smartphones in India in Q1. The company did not reveal its global shipment data for Q2 yet, but the Canalys report says Motorola has shipped 955,650 units in the Q2 2014.

Microsoft, that now owns Nokia has just 633,720 and grabs the fifth spot in the ranking. As usual, Samsung, Micromax and Karbonn are the top three smartphone vendors in India based on shipments. Sony, that was in the fourth spot in Q4 2013 has been bushed back in both the first and second quarters of 2014. Smart phone market sequentially grew 9% in the second quarter of 2014 and the increase in sales of Moto G helped Motorola to grab the fourth spot, says the report. The company launched the Moto X and Moto E in India in the past few months.

Earlier this week Strategy Analytics reported that Xiaomi is the fifth largest smartphone vendor in the world in Q2 2014 with 15.1 million shipments. Even though the company entered India last month with the Mi3 smartphone, it will take months to grab a decent market share in India, since the company is selling smartphones only in batches.

Apple and IBM collaborate to push iOS to enterprise customers

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With an aim to bring iPhones and iPads to enterprise customers, Apple has teamed up with IBM. As a result of the partnership, IBM will create more than 100 business-focused apps and Apple will sell iPhones and iPads pre-loaded with specific apps to companies across the globe.

IBM will develop iOS apps serving the retail, banking, insurance, transportation and telecommunications industries under the umbrella of IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions. Apple will add a new class of service to its AppleCare program and support aimed at enterprise customers. This program will provide IT customers with 24-hour, all-day support via phone and online, while IBM’s workforce will offer on-site support as well.

“iPhone and iPad are the best mobile devices in the world and have transformed the way people work with over 98 percent of the Fortune 500 and over 92 percent of the Global 500 using iOS devices in their business today. For the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”

said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO in a company statement.

According to the press release, the enterprise platform will include “analytics, workflow and cloud storage, to fleet-scale device management, security and integration” and IBM will make package offerings available to companies that include “device activation, supply and management.”

The first MobileFirst for iOS apps are expected to arrive in early 2015. This partnership is big step from Apple as it has not been a company indulging in enterprise solution. In the meantime, Apple’s entry is going to be tough on Blackberry as the struggling company is touted to be a promising player in enterprise customer market. Finally, Apple will be up against Google, which is integrating bring-your-own-device technology into the upcoming version of Android .

Amazon touts nearly 250,000 apps and games ahead of presumed smartphone launch

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In what can only be a matter of sheer coincidence (hardly), Amazon is touting some incredible figures surrounding its Appstore. Nearly tripling in the last year alone, the selection now figures to more than 240,000 apps and games. What’s more, it’s widely available (nearly 200 countries) and continues to build steam.  Developers seem to be more than pleased with the services and tools available and features like Amazon Coins only add to a high rate of user satisfaction.

Sounds like a lot of great stuff to entice new developers for that upcoming smartphone, eh?

Statistics shared by Amazon today:

  • 65% of developers said that Total Revenue on Kindle Fire is the same or better than developers’ experience with other platforms.
  • 74% of the same developers said that Average Revenue per App/User is the same or better on Kindle Fire than other platforms.
  • 76% of developers indicated that the Kindle Fire platform helps them connect with new market segments—an important indicator that the Kindle Fire platform can be a significant source of net-new business and “reach” for developers at a time when new market segments may be difficult to find on competing platforms, the study noted.

We would expect Amazon to thump their chest a bit in the run-up to announcing their first smartphone. With all eyes on their new device later this week, the door is wide open for added revenue opportunities for developers.