PYMNTS celebrates the Festivus |


The most important holiday of the year is fast approaching.

No, not Christmas.


For those who weren’t viewers of Seinfeld in the ’90s, Festivus is the fake holiday that George Costanza’s family celebrated while others chatted about peace on Earth and goodwill towards men. It would also be a real holiday celebrated by the family of writer Seinfeld Dan O’Keefe.

Celebrated annually on December 23, there are many traditions that make Festivus the best December holidays by far.

There’s the no-frills aluminum pole that is erected every year, the traditional Festivus dinner (meatloaf or turkey), the Festivus miracles (pretty much a regular miracle that happens at or around Festivus), and the exploits of strength – where everyone must take turns fighting the head of the household (technically Festivus can’t end until the head of the household is pinned).

And while all of these traditions are of course quite beautiful, what really makes Festivus shine and stand out is, of course, the spread of grievances. This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – after the Festivus dinner is served, family members walk around the table and discuss how disappointed they have been with each other and the world in general.

Or as George Costanza’s dad said during Seinfeld’s version of the event, “I have a lot of problems with you, and now you’re going to hear about it!”

At PYMNTS, we love Festivus – and we want you to love it as much as we do.

And so, although we were about a week early, we thought we were going to kick off the best part of the holiday season – with our own payments and commercial airing of grievances.

To: chatbots

From: consumers

Grievance: You are much less useful than you said.

When Facebook announced its big commerce chatbot push earlier this year, it took less than 24 hours from the report to go from enthusiasm to just plain ecstatic. Bloomberg said the apps are officially doomed and ready to die of old age at age 9.

So what happened to the bot revolution? Have we purged all our phones of apps?

Yeah, not so much. It turns out that in many cases, bots were a better concept in design than execution. Even David Marcus, chairman of Facebook and number one chatbot cheerleader, said this world may have gotten a bit ahead of the bot mania – and it would actually take a while for it to happen. The bot trading ecosystem is turning into a tool that the customer has found useful.

As for today’s chatbots, he managed to sum up two-thirds of Festivus’ grievance that consumers around the world have experienced all year: “Overhyped and underpowered”.

Add that the last third that Karen Webster managed to capture in her article on the crashed robot revolution: a little boring.

“Most of the time, I just want to hit Poncho the Weather Cat since all I want is the weather when I ask about the weather,” Webster said. “Spare me the cutesy icon trying to make a joke about it.” We take our weather very seriously in Boston.

Now, there is a chance that chatbots could improve to actually being useful – in the same speech on scoring the “over-excited and underfed” situation, Marcus also said bots were making steady progress. . This is despite the difficulties and the ever-growing list of retailers getting ready to integrate bots into their entire commercial offering (recently even Starbucks decided to take the bots step).

But for now, consumers are more likely to complain about their chatbot than to brag about its usefulness.

To: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

From: consumer advocates, payday lenders and consumers

Grievance: You’ve managed to write rules that are bad for literally everyone involved.

When the CFPB drafted new regulations for the payday lending industry earlier this year, it probably could have expected someone to be grieving in its general sense. This is more or less normal for the CFPB.

But this time around, the office managed to draft a set of regulations that more or less brought together an otherwise divided Festivus table on the subject into one grievance: the CFPB had done a bad job.

Jamie Fulmer of Advance America, the nation’s largest payday lender, is being wronged because the CFPB rules as written are not so much about reforming the short-term lending industry as they are dismantling it. By most accepted estimates, the new CFPB rules will shut down 80% of short-term lenders.

Nick Bourke, of the Pew Charitable Trusts consumer banking project, is also aggrieved, noting that the laws as drafted will mainly succeed in shutting down some lenders, leaving others to continue with interest rates at three. numbers and making it harder for consumers to get loans – because the new rules are holding back payday lenders while not offering any constructive steps towards an alternative.

And payday loan consumers are being wronged because – well, the CFPB has never asked them directly whether they would really like to see payday loans scrapped. And given that 47% of Americans don’t have an extra $ 400 to pay for an unforeseen expense, it’s safe to assume they’re also quite hurt by the fact that their options universe is on the verge of shrinking when it comes to shrinking. ‘they are struck by one of those unexpected bills. since no consumer wants to be protected in poverty.

To: consumers

From: mobile wallets

Grievance: Why are you just not interested in us?

In 2014, the world was the mobile wallet oyster. Apple Pay was new, everyone was excited, and everyone was more or less convinced that plastic cards were about to go the typewriter’s way. After all, who wants an analog solution like a card in a digital world?

Ultimately, about 90 percent of consumers.

It’s not that people hate mobile payments or even that they don’t like it. Data shows that most consumers have a positive experience when using them.

The problem is, they hardly ever use them, or at least not when they pay in-store. Turns out customers like plastic cards very well, and while everyone expected everyone to have their heads turned by the new mobile hotness, the trusty and reliable plastic card has a lot to offer. of attraction.

“Using maps is a long-standing habit,” said Jared Schrieber of InfoScout. “And consumers weren’t really asking for a new way to pay. “

Now, as every rom-com in history proves, Everyone and Everything is a good, solid makeover far from turning heads and drawing anyone into you – and certainly with a big payoff from. Samsung (and, to a lesser extent, Apple and Google), these makeovers seem to be underway.

But for now, this Festivus, we’re imagining mobile wallets and their makers wondering when exactly they’ll be able to feel all that love that was promised to them.

From: grocery stores

To: Amazon

Grievance: We’ve had enough trouble already – go!

Selling groceries should be pretty easy, because everyone has to eat, after all. And that seems to be the root of the grocer’s problem this year – everyone has to eat, which means everyone is looking to capture their share of that absolutely mandatory spending.

Which means the mainstream grocery store has spent the year battling niche players like Amazon Fresh and Instacart and meal kit services like Blue Apron that make some customers wonder if they really need to. do their shopping.

All the competition has led to a price war that has brought down most grocery prices (with the exception of fresh produce, which has been rising in prices lately) – and squeezed the margins of already slim grocery stores. .

Mainstream grocery stores already had 99 issues that might have felt wronged, and then, just in time for Festivus, Amazon decided to bump it up to 100.

Amazon has officially announced the grocery store of the future – powered by its “Just Walk Out” technology.

The first location will open in early 2017 in Seattle and without traditional registers. With take-out, snacks and baked goods, new Amazon technology improves the queue-free, wait-free experience with a virtual shopping cart that processes what customers buy to bill them.

How it works? Customers are allowed to access the store with their smartphone, which will have already downloaded the necessary Amazon Go app. They tap on the digital turnstile and start browsing the store. Using a combination of sensors, computer vision, and deep learning, Amazon says it can figure out what each customer is getting and then add it to their bill. If they hand over an object, he smells it too. When the customer leaves the store, the app charges the purchases to the customer’s registered card and pings a receipt.

On the positive side for grocers, they will not be alone at Festivus this year. “Just go away” is a pretty typical retailer refrain as Amazon begins to look at their vertical.

Festivus. Of course, it doesn’t feature the pretty twinkling lights and giveaways that usually follow the other December holidays – and as far as we know, there aren’t any songs from Festivus (although there should be). .

But Festivus, when properly celebrated, does something that no other holiday can do – it frees us from the shackles of politeness to make all the complaints that we would like to make for Christmas but cannot.

Moreover, you can try to beat the head of your household on the ground to prove your strength. Really, is it getting much better than that?

Happy Holidays !



On: Despite price volatility and regulatory uncertainty, a new study from PYMNTS shows that 58% of multinational companies are already using at least one form of cryptocurrency, especially when transferring funds across borders. The new Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and Global Business survey, a PYMNTS and Circle collaboration, polling 500 executives examines the potential and pitfalls that crypto faces as it becomes part of the mainstream financial sector.

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