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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 16, 2017 1:00 am

Briefs

Visa wants small firms to update

News services

NEW YORK – Visa is looking to push more small businesses into updating their digital payment technology, offering up to $10,000 each to 50 U.S.-based small-business owners that are committed to going cashless.

The program will focus on restaurants and food establishments, Visa said Wednesday, with the expectation that Visa will expand the program in the coming months and years to other industries and possibly other countries as well.

Despite the proliferation of credit and debt cards, and the advent of technologies like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, cash remains a significant method of payment in many industries across the U.S. and around the world. Going completely cashless often requires upgrades to current point-of-sale systems, which remains an impediment for many small businesses, which is largely where cash remains king.

“We are declaring war on cash,” said Andy Gerlt, a spokesman for Visa.

Vuitton gets into smart watch game

LVMH wants to sell smartwatches to well-off fashionistas, introducing a techy timepiece under its Louis Vuitton suitcase brand that opens a higher-end front in the luxury conglomerate's fightback against Apple Inc.

Louis Vuitton's Tambour Horizon starts at $2,450, about eight times the price of an entry-level Apple Watch and significantly more than many other connected devices from European watch and fashion brands, as well as more pedestrian gadgets from Samsung Electronics Co.

“We'll see more luxury brands break up the smartwatch duopoly between Apple and Samsung,” said John Guy, an analyst at MainFirst Bank AG. “It not only provides consumers with a luxury option, where the aesthetic is more in harmony with technology, but it also provides a springboard for younger consumers to move into traditional Swiss watches at a later stage.”

Within two years, Apple has become the world's second-bestselling watch brand, outranked only by Rolex, disrupting sales of low-end makers and convincing LVMH that it needs to offer alternatives or risk falling behind. Exclusive makers like Rolex and Patek Philippe have largely steered clear for fear of sullying their image.

Amazon building

Amazon plans to expand its internet retailing empire by building a massive fulfillment center south of Orlando International Airport.

The Seattle-based company spent months working to purchase the land for the project, which will employ 1,500 full-time workers and will open in 2018, Amazon said in a statement last week.

“We are excited to join the Orlando community, creating more than 1,500 full-time jobs at our new fulfillment center,” Akash Chauhan, Amazon vice president of North America operations, said in a statement. “We very much appreciate the state and local elected leaders who have supported Amazon's arrival in Orlando, and we look forward to bringing more jobs and investment to the state in the coming months.”

Amazon said the new warehouse and shipping center will be more than 850,000 square feet and “will pick, pack and ship small items to customers like books, electronics or consumer goods.” The facility's actual square footage could grow to be three times as big with the addition of mezzanines to accommodate robots, as has been done at other warehouses in the state.