Finimize - 🇯🇵 Japan's latest low

Visa and Mastercard cut merchants some slack | Japan's yen hit a 30-year low against the US dollar |
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Hi Reader, here's what you need to know for March 28th in 3:14 minutes.

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Today's big stories

  1. Payment giants Visa and Mastercard finally settled their long-standing legal battle against fee-laden merchants
  2. Europe’s IPO market has a brand-new glow – Read Now
  3. The Japanese yen reached its weakest level against the US dollar in over 30 years

Small Wonders

Small Wonders

What’s going on here?

Payment processing companies Visa and Mastercard agreed to trim their fees by an iota, but that tiny sacrifice should save merchants some $30 billion over the next five years.

What does this mean?

Visa and Mastercard didn't just wake up feeling generous on Wednesday. Shopkeepers have been legally protesting the “interchange fees” they pay card companies for nearly 20 years. Bear in mind, they hand over around 2% of a sale every time a customer swipes their credit card, which added up to over $100 billion in the US last year. So to put an end to the back and forth, Visa and Mastercard agreed to slice 0.07 percentage points off their average fee over the next five years. The settlement will also free up merchants to charge customers more for Visa and Mastercard transactions, pushing them toward cards that cost shops less.

Why should I care?

Zooming out: Capital One won.

Even though Visa and Mastercard set those fees, it’s the banks behind them that keep most of the takings. JPMorgan, for example, pulled in $31 billion from fees alone last year. So JPMorgan, along with the likes of Bank of America and Citigroup, won’t exactly be thrilled about the agreement. At least Capital One took control earlier this year, announcing plans to buy Discover Financial Services to keep fees on its cards lower for merchants, without needing to lean on Visa and Mastercard as the middlemen.

The bigger picture: Klarna’s getting radical.

Visa and Mastercard’s compromise can’t compare to Klarna’s plans, mind you. The buy-now-pay-later giant is working on a system that will let UK customers pay off their balance straight from their bank accounts, bypassing debit card networks and the fees that come with them. Not only will that save Klarna some spare change, but it’ll cement the Stockholm-based company as a mover and shaker ahead of its planned public listing later this year.

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Analyst Take

IPOs Are Back, Baby (And Not Just In The US)

IPOs Are Back, Baby (And Not Just In The US)
Photo of Carl Hazeley

Carl Hazeley, Analyst

IPOs are back in fashion – and not just in the US.

Swiss skincare company Galderma made its fresh-faced debut last week, smoothing out some market wrinkles.

See, shares in the maker of cosmetic fillers and medical creams rose as much as 18% on their first day. That's a promising sign in Europe, where billions of dollars worth of companies are lining up to go public.

So that’s today’s Insight: Europe’s IPO market has a brand-new glow and you could take advantage.

Read or listen to the Insight here

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‘90s Revival

‘90s Revival

What’s going on here?

The Japanese yen fell to its weakest level against the US dollar since 1990.

What does this mean?

Japan’s currency has had a rough start to the year, with the yen weakening against every developed country’s currency. See, despite Japan bringing interest rates up from their sub-zero spot, those rates still look squat – and lower interest rates make a country’s currency less attractive to investors. Meanwhile, the US dollar – the strongest currency this year – has picked up by 7% against the yen. So after the yen reached its lowest level against the dollar in over three decades on Wednesday, whispers spread that Japanese government officials were planning on meeting with the Bank of Japan (BoJ). Investors then started speculating that the central bank might intervene in the currency market, selling its own stacks of US dollars and buying the yen to give it a leg up.

Why should I care?

Zooming in: Investors are seizing the opportunity.

The US’s 5.25% interest rate is widely expected to hit 4.5% by the end of the year. But in Japan, investors expect the barely-above-zero rate to land at just 0.3% by then. Traders had expected rates to end up higher, bringing the yen up with them, but those hopes have been dashed by the BoJ. That has investors sticking with their “carry trades”: borrowing money in yen to buy a currency that earns a higher interest rate, and pocketing the difference between the two.

For markets: Businesses love a bargain.

Mind you, the weaker yen does have one benefit. The cheaper currency makes Japanese companies’ products and services more affordable for international customers, while the stronger US dollar means they make more yen per buck when converting their takings back into their home currency. That’s plumped up the earnings of Japanese firms which, in turn, has attracted investors to their stocks – especially as their valuations look cheap and business-boosting government reforms are underway.

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💬 Quote of the day

"Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something."

– Wilson Mizner (an American playwright and entrepreneur)
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🎯 On Our Radar

1. Think of your biggest financial dream. Your wildest fantasy might be more achievable than you think.

2. New crypto projects are spawned every day. Here's your guide to investing in bitcoin.*

3. The Baltimore Bridge came down. The rest of the US might want to take note.

4. Social media is beating the press when it comes to finance. Investors just need to be able to tell fact from fiction.*

5. Boeing can’t manage to keep domestic flights safe. Now the plane designer is taking its blueprints to space.

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