Seen & Heard

Online payments, hospitality, banking and insolvency

Offer for Stripe rejected
John and Patrick Collison, the Limerick brothers behind online payments business Stripe, turned down an offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the business in recent months, according to the Sunday Independent.

The paper reports that the brothers rejected the offer from PayPal, the major player in the online payments sector, deciding instead to expand the business into Europe.

The paper cites technology website All Things D as a source for the story, noting that PayPal, owned by eBay, subsequently paid $800 million for on online and mobile payments business Braintree.

Stripe, valued at upwards of $500 million, is looking to facilitate e-commerce by cutting out retailers’ reliance on banks by positioning itself as a “trusted middleman”.

The company recently launched in Ireland and Britain after a successful rollout in the key US market.

Hospitality jobs warning
Employers' lobby group Ibec warns that Government proposals to restore the full 13.5 per cent rate of VAT to certain businesses will cost 10,000 jobs in the hospitality sector alone, the Sunday Times reports.

“The loss of 10,000 jobs would directly cost the exchequer €150 million in higher social welfare payments and lost tax revenues,” Ibec economist Fergal O’Brien told the newspaper. He says this would far exceed the cost of retaining the discounted 9 per cent VAT rate.

However, in an interview with The Irish Times earlier this month, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said retention of the "pump-priming exercise intended to be temporary" would involve his having to find "something like €360 million elsewhere".

Ulster Bank nationalisation
Ulster Bank should be placed in the hands of the UK state along with certain other RBS assets to allow the sale of a "good" bank at a profit to the British taxpayer, the bank's own broker has suggested, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The restricted report by UBS says a “bad” bank housing toxic RBS assets would include Ulster Bank and its US Citizens Bank business, and would be hived off from the remaining business. Ownership of the bad bank would pass fully to the state, which would then run down the business in a similar way to Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley.

The paper notes the UK government is awaiting a report from Blackrock and investment bank Rothschild on a potential break-up of the bank.

Insolvency cases report
Close to half of those looking to apply to the Insolvency Service for deals on their debt are likely to be forced into bankruptcy, according to a report in the Sunday Business Post.

A study of 1,057 "real-life" cases carried out by Grant Thornton Debt Solutions found bankruptcy would be the best option for 43 per cent of people seeking debt deals. A major problem is that many do not earn enough money to qualify for settlements under the service, the report said.