Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Amazon conversion rates - Better to charge USD to your card

While purchasing an item from Amazon, realized that now a days Amazon gives an option to charge in local currency. For details look here

But is it worth letting Amazon does the conversion ? Or let your local credit card does the conversion?. Initially I thought Amazon could do a better job based on the volume and it's good for them to get wholesale customers. It's a delta income for them on top of sale so they should make it as competitive as possible to make it a norm.

But unfortunately, for SGD it's not the case. There is a quite a bit of difference between Amazon conversion rate vs your local bank conversion rate.

Here is a screen shot showing amazon conversion rate for SGD which is ~ 1.3059. My credit card company charged me 1.2644. So Amazon charges approx 3-4% higher. If the order is worth, 1,000 you'd be paying close to $ 30 extra to Amazon for doing the conversion.

Not sure what is the practice for other currencies like GBP or EUR. If you guys know plz share :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Viber Desktop - Change of strategy?? or just can't afford to miss desktop

Source: Viber

I believe, finally things started to change and 'apps' from mobile world started to enter 'desktop'.

I always believe, there is a limit to mobile/tablets and replacing laptop/desktop would not be possible in the near future. It may happen in one day in the future but not so soon. Tab/Mobile are good to 'read' but to act, we still rely on notebooks/desktops.

So when I saw the announcement, it's kind of wow to me. Mainly we've been used to an application on Desktop, then eventually see it on Mobile. But this is kind of odd

I've taken couple of screen shots of the interface and looks pretty simple, and straight forward. No bells, whistles, and no "call out" or "skype out" functionality like where you can call landlines/regular mobiles.

 So it's still closed to Viber alone. I guess, we can see an option to 'pay' to make outgoing calls to regular PSTN or Mobile phones soon. Basically, this is where they can make some money from VoIP users. Like Skypeout or Fringout or even Google Voice ;)

Friday, May 3, 2013

APPT - Asian Pay Television Trust

Prospectus here.

In a single line - AVOID.  Yes, the yield 8.25 - 9.0 % looks lucrative and the business model sounds like "starhub". So people may jump in not to miss the opportunity. But when you see the assets which MIIF is trying to put under APPT, then you may realize :)

Asian Pay Television is a newly constituted Registered Business Trust formed to acquire its initial
asset, the TBC Group. The TBC Group is Taiwan’s third-largest cable TV operator, with more than
751,000 Basic Cable TV RGUs as at 31 December 2012. 

Then, the revenue/loss/profit number for the last two years is not very promising either. Though the margins are good the interest /finance costs are taking out all the money.

And their assets are kind of bloated if I're to calculate their nav. the intangible assets are close to 1.8 billions (or 89% of their total assets). Not quite sure what kind of intangible assets a cable operator can hold. Is it the 'license to operate'? Not sure and any way I am not an expert so I'll leave it up to the analysts and better informed people.

The cable industry or living room entertainment sounds lucrative but I see a very high risk in countries with good connectivity. Especially, SG, HK, Korea, TW etc. Reason, is Internet and once people start to use Internet streamed content the biggest margin squeeze would happen. It may not happen in this year but I feel it's not too far in future too. At the same time, the broadband prices are dropping YoY. So any increase in broadband share would be offset by falling prices.

So why should I pay $1 for a business making losses and doesn't have a solid future ? Is it for the 9% dividend? or trap?

* I may be missing the whole point here but this is my own opinion and I am not trying to induce someone to get in to buy or not to buy * ;)