Tuesday, March 26, 2013
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Popmoney To The Rescue!
You know your brother's birthday is at the end of March, but how did the weeks fly by so quickly? It's here already and you haven't bought a gift!
You're at lunch with a group of friends or co-workers. You have enough cash to cover your share. But when the tab arrives, the math is easier if you split the bill equally. Now you're wishing you went with the steak like a couple of the others did. You can't quite cover your share anyway.
Your kid can't make it home from college, calls the day before Easter claiming he doesn't have enough money for the train fare. He'll just catch a ride with a friend heading to a spring break party instead.
Your travel buddies stumbled on the perfect beach house for vacation. But need to put the deposit in today to secure it for the dates you want.
You forgot to pay your landscaper. Or forgot your checkbook when you picked up your child at day care.
Admit it. There are times in life when you need cash to be somewhere you can't physically reach. It happens to all of us.
Popmoney to the rescue!
Popmoney is a personal payment service that makes sending and receiving money as easy as emailing and texting. All you need is a name and email address or mobile phone number to transfer money directly to them.
The best part is that it's already available to GCF Online Banking Bill Pay customers with no further registration needed on your part. If you're not already using GCF Bill Pay, Popmoney is one more great reason to start.
There are over 1800 banks currently in the Popmoney network. Chances are good the person or business you're sending money to is already among them so they already have access. If not, a simple one-time enrollment at Popmoney.com will assure they get your money transfer quick and easy every time you use the service.
GCF Online Banking Bill Pay customers can find Popmoney through their Touch Banking app or the full scale Bill Pay on their computer. Login to Online Banker and choose the Bill Payment link that appears in your checking account information.
You'll see the Popmoney menu item listed between Manage My Bills and My Accounts on your Bill Pay screen. Click it to find just how easy it is to use.
Once you send money to someone, your contact information is saved so you don't need to perform the entire drill time after time. Popmoney allows you to save multiple email addresses or phone numbers for each contact. No problem if you use a different email address than you did last time. They'll still get your money.
An activity log tracks all of your transactions to give you a handy record of which payments were made and when. Or stop payment on any transaction still tagged as pending. Even if the contact has already been notified that payment was made, you can change your mind right up until the time they claim the money.
Are you sending money as a gift? Add an eGreeting card at no extra charge! The standard 50 cent transaction fee is all it will cost you.
Questions? Visit our Web site.
The tiny island of Cyprus, off the Greek coast, became the epicenter of the financial world this week. There's no better illustration of how the smallest among us can take down the mighty in a global economy.
We're watching a modern-day David and Goliath epic unfold.
The island's population is just over one million, the third largest in the Mediterranean Sea. They gained independence from England in 1960 and grown to become one of the more prosperous economies in the region.
That is, until the Eurozone financial and banking crisis reared its head. The banks of Cyprus invested heavily in Greek bonds. As Greece's banks began to fail, they didn't go alone. In June 2012, the once prosperous nation found its Fitch credit rating downgraded to junk status.
Cyprus isn't without resources. The island is a popular tourist destination, property value is high along with demand. Significant amounts of offshore natural gas have been found in the area. Financial services and the shipping industry contribute a significant amount to its economy.
The U.S. financial downturn and ensuing Euro economic turmoil rippled down to the tiny island. Tourism was down, shipping stalled. Unemployment grew. State debt increased.
Cyprus had very lax laws in opening foreign accounts. So lax that they've drawn criticism from other eurozone countries, assuming that much of the money is tied to crime. Deposits alone are roughly eight times the island's annual economic output.
With financial services such a high component of the country's economy, a collapse of its banks would wreak havoc.
Cyprus looked for unique ways to solve their economic woes. They requested a bailout from the European Commission (EC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on June 25, 2012. Terms were reached that included cuts in civil service salaries, social benefits, higher public health care charges, tobacco, alcohol and fuel taxes, and taxes on lottery winnings. But the amount was still in negotiation.
The parties bargained until March 16, 2013 when a 10 billion euro deal was reached. Accounts held in Cyprus banks were to be levied as part of the deal.
Now there was dissent. The people revolted. The Russian government protested. They had existing loans with Cyprus and $31 billion deposited in their banks.
Russia offered to lend the island the money it needed to stabilize their financial system in return for rights to the country's natural gas deposits. Cyprus wisely turned down the deal. It would have helped their immediate problem, but closed the door to the country's future.
Instead, Cyprus considered an across-the-board bank tax on all deposits regardless of size. If the government thought the people were angry before, they quickly learned things could get worse. It neared mass hysteria as people flocked the banks to pull their money out.
The deal eventually reached with the IMF on March 25th is monumental. The Popular Bank of Cyprus, Laiki Bank, will shut down. Deposits less than 100,000 euros ($130,000) will move to the Bank of Cyprus who will receive remaining assets from the failed bank.
Deposits above 100,000 euros, not protected by EU law, will be frozen and used to pay for the deal. They're expected to amount to 4.2 billion euros ($5.5 billion). Account holders will lose an estimated 30-40% of their assets. Far more than the 10% originally suggested.
The bailout package includes conditions that will change the face of the Cyprus financial sector. Reforms to restore imbalances and implementation of an anti-money laundering framework are among them.
So was the 10% bank tax such a bad idea in reflection? Maybe not. For Cyprus, a large percentage of that was in accounts held by foreigners and didn't affect the country's economy directly.
To contrast, the Federal Reserve reports the median U.S. household lost nearly 39% of its wealth from 2007 to 2010. Middle-class families took the biggest hit since their net worth was dependent on the value of their home.
Savers are finding inflation outpacing earnings as interest rates remain at all-time lows. The economy may be slowly recovering, but citizens are still losing money.
The crisis is not yet over. It's a lot like a chess match. One move can change the game. Who will make the winning move?
Tip of the Week
Here's another tip on choosing the right nursing home submitted by a reader: Does the staff greet you with a smile or even say hello as you tour? If not, cross this one off of your list.
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