American Express is the latest in a string of companies announcing one-click buying options. But is adding another button to a checkout page really the right solution to solve mobile payment problems?
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The DOL’s proposal requiring advisors to abide by a fiduciary standard of care when giving advice on investments held in retirement plans and IRAs is not welcomed by most brokerage firms. While I am not crazy about the proposal either (it could go further to eliminate the source of misaligned advisor/client interests), I do think the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s criticism of the rule is exaggerated and primarily intended to catalyze advisor and investor lobbying efforts (see SIFMA’s Keep Retirement Open ad). The DOL clearly states that the commission model can stay put, but the brokerage industry implies that it will be forced to eliminate brokerage relationships under the new rule.
As an Amazon Prime customer, I’m used to the convenience of 1-Click buying and free shipping. And up until yesterday, I really believed that the combination of the two, along with a delivery in a day or so, was about as good as it got and as good as it needed to be.
On Tuesday, judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court for Eastern New York rejected a proposed four-year-old class action settlement on an antitrust lawsuit between American Express and merchants over interchange fees and surcharging. The settlement was thrown out because one co-counselor for the merchants acted improperly, breaching attorney-client privilege during settlement negotiations. The proposed antitrust settlement would have allowed merchants to impose a surcharge on American Express cardholders, potentially treating those cardholders differently from other customers using different payment methods.
So where are we now? We expected 2015 to be the year in which traditional firms started taking advantage of digital advisor technology. We are right on track with this development. The news and rumors about large firms exploring partnerships with digital advisors has grown; see last week’s announcement about LPL’s plans to give advisors access to an as yet unnamed digital advisor platform. Schwab launched its own digital advisor solution, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, in March as well a version for its registered investment advisors. Schwab IP accumulated US$3 billion in assets in less than four months, mostly from existing self-directed clients.