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Japan’s Shopping Boom Leads to Shortage of Credit Card Numbers

Amid an increase in online shopping during this era of COVID-19, Japan is facing a shortage of credit card numbers.

As shoppers avoid traditional stores and opt for contactless payment, credit card firms are at a loss on how to deal with the limitation of 16-digit card numbers. 

Popularity in credit card usage has probably been a result of the Japanese government’s move to encourage cashless payments initiated in October 2019.

The majority of the country’s 280 card firms offer cards with sixteen digits, in line with global companies like MasterCard and Visa specifications.

The six initial numbers refer to basics such as the country, card type, and issuing bank. The credit card firm determines the remaining ten digits (including the account number) and account type. 

According to card firms, there is bound to be a shortage of combinations starting from the 7th digit going on. 

Now the card companies are considering adding the 17th digit.

If they chose this action, will they have to update nearly 300 million 16-digit cards currently in use, or will they let them co-exist with the new-generation cards?

Former Butcher Fighting for Gambling Empire

Butcher-turned-billionaire Johann Graf is facing a battle like none he has ever faced before. 

The 73-year-old tycoon’s gambling firm, Novomatic is bringing in lesser profits as COVID-19 drives gamblers away from slot machines in casinos worldwide.

Graf is behind what has come to be known as the ‘ordinary man’s gambling’ firm, which he established forty years ago. 

To make matters worse, Novomatic is fighting claims of corruption, requires financing over $1.2 billion debt, and its CEO has left. 

According to Alois Woegerbauer, the chief of 3 Banken-Generali Investment, ‘Not only is Novomatic in a delicate sector, but it’s also facing several challenges at once. Given the weaker sales outlook and the legal issues, the coming months will be decisive to see which direction Johann Graf and the company take.’

The Linz, Austria-based investment firm manages holdings amounting to €10 billion, Novomatic bonds included.

Graf, who started out as a butcher in Vienna after World War II, is Austria’s second-richest man, after Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz. 

His wealth mostly arises from Novomatic’s slot machines presence in the largest casinos in the world and over 2,000 gaming facilities in 50 countries. 

But with the COVID-19 pandemic shrinking disposable incomes and affecting the casino sector, plus the corruption charges hanging over him, do you think the secretive billionaire will come out unscathed?

Oil Stable with US Hurricane Threat Offset by COVID-19 Resurgence

Following a third straight week of gains, oil was stable even as the prospect of back-to-back storms smashing the Gulf Coast and affecting production was counteracted by signs of COVID-19 resurgence in sectors of Europe and Asia. 

Trade in October futures in New York reached almost $42 a barrel after dropping 1.1% on Friday.

Nearly 60% of the Gulf of Mexico’s crude output shut down by Sunday noon in anticipation of two approaching hurricanes. 

Coming from separate directions, the two; Laura and Marco are potentially devastating in terms of damage.

According to a Commonwealth Bank of Australia commodities analyst Vivek Dhar, ‘What’s going to keep the brakes on the price is what U.S. oil supply is going to do. While the hurricanes are positive for prices, they’re very temporary, but the rising US oil rig count reaffirms that spare capacity can come back and is enough to meet any price increase.’

ByteDance Investors Eye Stakes to Fund TikTok Bid

ByteDance investors are holding discussions to utilize their stakes in the Chinese tech company to fund their bid for TikTok.

The investors have been consulting to divest the popular short-video app’s operations in Australia, North America and New Zealand to possible takers, including Oracle Corp and Microsoft Corp. 

Keep in mind that US President Donald Trump gave an ultimatum to the Chinese firm to cut ties with the app in the US, naming concerns over the safety of data.

The US government is expecting an American firm to clinch the deal, and the TikTok assets are going for around $25 billion to $30 billion.

With this in mind, do you think Microsoft’s deep pockets and its technical ability to create new algorithms for TikTok makes it a leading contender?

Stock Markets at a Glance

Shares futures in the US and Europe climbed alongside equities in Asia due to signs of easing of tensions between China and the US.

Also, this rise may have been caused by investors eagerly anticipating Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s policy speech later this week.

Helped by a rally in Tencent Holdings, the owner of WeChat, and progress regarding the COVID-10 pandemic, Hong Kong’s stocks outperformed.

According to sources, President Donald Trump’s associates are privately reassuring American firms that it is still advisable to partner with the WeChat messaging app in China.

Chinese, South Korea, and Japan equities were additionally higher with Euro Stoxx 50 futures.  

As gold started the week on a back footing, S&P 500 contracts climbed modestly following US stocks finishing Friday with the 4th week of gains. 

S&P 500 futures rose 0.3% as of 6:25 am. London time, while the Japanese Topix index increased by 0.2%. Hong Kong Hang Seng’s climbed 1.4%, as the Shanghai Composite rose 0.3%. In South Korea, the Kospi gained 0.7%, and Euro Stoxx futures climbed 0.5%.

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