Axios’ Steve LeVine reports on a mobile payment platform that has seen incredible growth in the United States in recent years. “Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce rival to Amazon, is making its first big push into the American market with a substantial play by its affiliate, Alipay. It’s built around China’s two-week lunar new year celebration, which has brought thousands of Chinese tourists to the United States, most of whom prefer to spend at retailers that accept a mobile wallet. At home, some 520 million Chinese retail shoppers use Alipay. But last year they also took 135 million journeys abroad, including to Europe and the U.S. Given their payment preferences, shopping has been a stumbling block. But now, Alipay has payment agreements with some 170,000 North America retail locations, reports Fung Global Retail Tech’s Deborah Weinswig.”
IN THE MEDIA
The Wall Street Journal reports on how media outlets are transferring data intelligence to the business side of their operations. “Publishers are increasingly building data science tools to boost web traffic and lure subscribers. Now, the New York Times is giving those tools to marketers to help drum up new business. The newspaper announced on Thursday the launch of a new team focused on adapting tools from groups specializing in data science, product and design, technology, and advertising. … The Times has already invested in tools to help understand its subscribers and their needs, which can be deployed for marketers. The new team will be able to work with T Brand Studio to help bring in more advertising clients and build more tailored branded content offerings. Other publishers have turned their capacities for data crunching into a business opportunity. In June, Bloomberg hired Havas Creative Group Chief Executive Andrew Benett, who has been using the company’s audience data in consultation with brands. The Washington Post adapted ‘Post Pulse,’ a tool for tracking the company’s trending stories, for clients including Sprint, BMW and Chevy.”
IN THE ADMINISTRATION
President Trump is expected to hold a meeting Tuesday to discuss biofuels policy, with participants including Senators Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley, and Joni Ernst, as well as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, and others. Reuters reports, “The meeting comes as the oil industry and corn lobby – powerful forces in Washington – clash over the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a decade-old regulation that requires refiners to cover the cost of mixing biofuels such as corn-based ethanol into their fuel. Trump’s engagement reflects the high political stakes of protecting jobs in a key electoral state. Oil refiner Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which employs more than a thousand people in Philadelphia, declared bankruptcy last month and blamed the regulation for its demise.”
ON THE HILL
Both the House and Senate return this week as negotiations on an omnibus spending package and an immigration bill continue. The House will vote on a financial services bill as well as a sex trafficking bill. The Senate on Monday will have a cloture vote on the nominations of Elizabeth Branch (to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit), Russell Vought (to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget), and four district court nominees.
Monday (February 26): House Rules Committee meeting to consider the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, the Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act, and a measure to place requirements on operational risk capital requirements for banking organizations; House Intelligence Committee business meeting on the adoption of the Committee’s FY2019 budget views and estimates letter; House Small Business Committee field hearing on closing the skills gap in workforce development;
Wednesday (February 28): Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to review FY2019 State Department budget request and redesign plans, with testimony from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; Senate Commerce Committee executive session to consider the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act and four nominees to the Federal Trade Commission and hearing on implementation of positive train control; Senate HELP Committee executive session to consider the Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments, Childhood Cancer STAR Act, State Offices of Rural Health Reauthorization Act, and the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee business meeting to consider the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act and nomination of Michael Atkinson to be inspector general of the intelligence community; Senate Environment and Public Works Committee oversight hearing of the FBI headquarters consolidation project; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing on 5 bills; Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on legislative presentation of the American Legion; House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearings to receive an update on the restoration of Puerto Rico’s electric infrastructure and review legislative proposals to combat the opioid crisis and help communities balance enforcement and patient safety; House Foreign Affairs Subcommitteehearing on Zimbabwe after Mugabe; House Natural Resources Subcommitteelegislative hearing on four special resource study bills;
Thursday (March 1): Senate Banking Committee hearing on the semiannual monetary policy report to Congress, with testimony from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell; Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nominations of Robert Pence (to be ambassador to Finland) and Dr. Judy Shelton (to be executive director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development); Senate HELP Committee hearing on the nomination of John Ring to be a member of the National Labor Relations Board; Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the administration’s framework for rebuilding infrastructure; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on cybersecurity in our nation’s critical energy infrastructure; Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee hearing examining federal managers’ role in hiring.