Meet the ex-Amazon satellite engineers wanting to disrupt hardware workflow — TechCrunch

Imagine building some of the most sophisticated hardware-driven technologies in the world – spacecraft, drones or autonomous vehicles. Then imagine being unable to easily share your data to different teams, having to use clunky user interfaces, and relying on a single person manually inputting data in an Excel spreadsheet to bottom line your project… read more:

Meet the ex-Amazon satellite engineers wanting to disrupt hardware workflow — TechCrunch

#AppleCard’s ‘rapid growth’ responsible for Goldman Sachs $GS regulator probe, report says — 9to5Mac

Last week, Goldman Sachs revealed that it is facing a probe from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over its consumer credit card business. A new report from CNBC today offers more details on that probe, which can be attributed to “Apple Card’s rapid growth.” more…

Apple Card’s ‘rapid growth’ responsible for Goldman Sachs regulator probe, report says — 9to5Mac

Apple Pay Later BNPL finance charges

So, you’ve seen the advertisements offering you a chance to “Buy Now, Pay Later” – the payment plan that spreads your purchase over four equal monthly payments. Basically, it’s the standard credit card “Four months same as cash” or “Free financing for four months” offers that have been around since your parents were wearing diapers.

What’s different today is that a bunch of start-ups, funded by huge investment pools, are jumping into this lending business that is really not much more than a lightly-regulated twist on old-school “payday lender” and sub-prime credit card lender models.

Read the fine print.

What I find interesting is the lack of transparency on the fees if you don’t pay off your purchase in four months, or you’re late on one of those payments. In fact, the fees and interest charges are onerous – well over 25% interest charges, on top of hefty late fees. I find it odd that no one in the media talks about the consequences of being late, missing a payment, or not paying off that wardrobe purchase within the timeline.

While it’s been years since I managed “No interest for 90 days – same as cash” promotions for major credit card issuers, I can tell you with certainty that many people don’t or can’t follow the rules, and get slapped with hefty fees, penalties, and interest charges. Back in my day, it could be as much as 10% to 15% of BNPL borrows missed a payment and got dinged with fees and charges. Of course, the credit issuer made a lot of money on people who were late, so from an issuer point of view, that’s where the money is and making money on credit card late fees and interest charges is a good thing.

Apple Pay Later Finance Charges

So, with the launch of “Apple Pay Later” I tried to find the fine print on the fees if I bought an Apple product, and was one of the 10% (my guess) of the folks who were at risk of not following the rules. It wasn’t easy, since the information was difficult to find, hard to read the small fonts, and lack of the usual “Schumer Box” – the table listing the rates and fees that apply to a particular credit card. This “box” is required to be disclosed in a standardized format at the top of every cardmember agreement as part of the Truth in Lending Act. But, it was missing on the Apple Pay Later webpage on Whether that’s legal or not, I’ll leave it up to the lawyers to decide. But as a consumer, it’s information that’s important for making informed decisions when borrowing money.

Here’s what I found:

“Apple Card Monthly Installments (ACMI) is a 0% APR payment option available only in the U.S. to select at checkout for certain Apple products purchased at Apple Store locations,, the Apple Store app, or by calling 1-800-MY-APPLE and is subject to credit approval and credit limit. See for more information about eligible products. Variable APRs for Apple Card other than ACMI range from 12.49% to 23.49% based on creditworthiness. Rates as of July 1, 2022. If you choose the pay‑in‑full or one‑time‑payment option for an ACMI‑eligible purchase instead of choosing ACMI as the payment option at checkout, that purchase will be subject to the variable APR assigned to your Apple Card. “

I’d love to hear from Apple of they have a different opinion about the subject, or if they think I’ve got their fees on BNPL all wrong.

Not being clear and conspicuous about the hidden fees of BNPL is really not in “good taste” – something my mother would say when us kids did something that she thought was wrong.

Remembering the first Earth Day in 1970

While discussing the current “Heat Apocalypse” currently sweeping our planet with my younger colleagues, I shared that I’m old enough to remember exactly where I was and what we talked about on the very first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Looking back reminded me of the collaboration and successes once achieved between the Republicans and Democrats on climate action over fifty years ago.

Even before the first Earth Day, there was a lot of optimism across all political parties to protect the environment in the late 1960s and through the 1970s, in part because of the overwhelming public support and recognition that the planet was falling into serious disrepair. California was at the forefront of the environmental movement, but certainly wasn’t alone among the American states.

I find it quite strange to see what’s happening today and then look back at Earth Day 1970 and all of the bi-partisan support of federal and state legislation in the 1970s that set in motion the laws protecting the environment. Yes – both Republicans and Democrats worked tirelessly together to pass hallmark environmental legislation. 

As much as America’s youth in the 1970s were protesting “the man” on so many fronts, it’s seemed quite normal to see all the good that was passed by Democrats and Republicans, then signed into law by a very supportive and once popular Republican president, Richard Nixon, and his successor, Gerald Ford in the 1970s:

  • National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 was one of the first laws that established the legislative framework for protecting the environment 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed in December 1970 after President Nixon submitted a plan to Congress calling for the creation of the agency
  • The Clean Air Act Extension, written by Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie and signed into law by President Nixon in 1970 was arguably the most significant air pollution control bill in American history.
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 was the first to protect marine mammals such as dolphins, whales, seals, walruses, manatees, sea otters and polar bears. 
  • The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 was a turning pointing in the effort to protect the nation’s lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, and other bodies of water. 
  • The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was created to protect species in danger of extinction as a result of human activity.

Unfortunately, that the march towards our current state of noticeable climate change is deeply disappointing over fifty years later. America’s apparent political stalemate on climate change over the past decade is just astonishing, but perhaps not unexpected.

It’s amazing what problems can be tackled and what can be achieved when we work together. Can we do it again? It seems impossible today, but wouldn’t it be nice.

Bad Payment Experiences Case Study: Walmart

I stopped by #Walmart – something I generally loathe to do because of the hassle factor – to pick up groceries this morning. After loading my cart with about $150 of groceries, I went to checkout and there were no cash registers open. I was told by a store employee no cashiers were available, and I had to use self-checkout instead. I told the associate “no” because I had way too many items in my basket and didn’t want to hassle with dealing with their undersized self-checkout stations (more on that in a future post). Then, I abandoned my cart in the isle and left the store – finishing my shopping at their competitor down the street.

My experience with Walmart today is a reminder that most retailers get a failing grade when it comes to understanding the payment experience. The payment experience is as important as just about every other experience your customers have in your store. Don’t ignore the importance of doing it better than your competitors.

The payment experience is far more than that moment when customers interact with the payment terminal. The payment experience begins at home when people make a decision to go shopping (what am I going to buy, where am I going to go, and how am I going to pay) through paying at checkout (swiping, dipping, tapping, scanning, etc.), then getting out of the store and parking lot quickly. A bad payments experience means customers can and will go someplace else.

Retailers who understand that the payment experience is more than just what happens on a POS terminal or with an online shopping cart checkout will have a competitive advantage – it’s money in the bank.

‘nuf said.