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Target to introduce mobile payment service

BY Brian Berk

MINNEAPOLIS — Target will introduce its own mobile payment service in stores this year, a spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday. The spokesperson did not give additional details, including launch date, reported various media agencies.

The service would allow customers to pay for goods using an app on their mobile phones. It’s uncertain if the mobile payment service will be added to the Target App, integrated within its Cartwheel app, or both. Chief Information Officer Michael McNamara did tell Recode that customers must have a Target REDCard to utilize the service, “at least initially.”

Once enacted, Target’s mobile payment service would be a competitor to current offerings in this space, including Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay.

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Federal judge blocks Aetna, Humana merger, citing competition concerns

BY David Salazar
WASHINGTON — The proposed $37 billion merger between Aetna and Humana hit a roadblock Monday, when U.S. District Court Judge John Bates issued his ruling in a lawsuit between the companies and the federal government. The Dept. of Justice sued on behalf of 264 counties in 21 states where it said a merger would limit competition unlawfully in the Medicare Advantage markets and 17 counties in three states where it said public exchange competition would be limited.
 
“In this case, the government alleged that the merger of Aetna and Humana would be likely to substantially lessen competition in markets for individual Medicare Advantage plans and health insurance sold on the public exchanges,” Bates wrote. “After a 13-day trial, and based on careful consideration of the law, evidence, and arguments, the Court mostly agrees.”
 
The companies argued that the government should consider the product market of both Medicare Advantage and Medicare benefits from the government. They also argued that the government’s regulatory oversight when it comes to Medicare, potential entry of new competitors and a proposed sale of some of their Medicare Advantage business to Molina healthcare would lessen the likelihood of competitive impact. 
 
“The Court concludes that the proposed merger is likely to substantially lessen competition in Medicare Advantage in all 364 complaint counties and in the public exchanges in the three complaint counties in Florida,” Bates’s decision said. “In [the Medicare Advantage] market, which is the primary focus of this case, the merger is presumptively unlawful—a conclusion that is strongly supported by direct evidence of head-to-head competition as well.”
 
When it comes to the public exchange argument, the companies said there wasn’t any competition between Aetna and Humana in the identified counties because Aetna decided not to compete there in 2017. The government argued that the decision not to compete was done with the aim of avoiding legal review of the merger. The companies offered as an alternative argument that, even taking into account past competition and uses it to forecast potential future competition Humana’s market share would be reduced this year and in the future to the point that a merger wouldn’t cause market concentration to rise to unlawful levels.
 
“The Court finds that Aetna is likely to offer plans on the exchanges only in the three complaint counties in Florida in 2018 and beyond, and that the merger is likely to substantially lessen competition in those counties,” the decision said. “And as in the Medicare Advantage market, the Court concludes that defendants’ proffered efficiencies do not offset the anticompetitive effects of the merger.”
 
The companies are reportedly mulling an appeal, with Aetna spokesman T.J. Crawford telling USA Today, “"we're reviewing the opinion now and giving serious consideration to an appeal, after putting forward a compelling case.”
 

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Albertsons names new SVP digital marketing, e-commerce

BY David Salazar
BOISE, Id. — Albertsons on Monday announced a new addition to its head its digital marketing strategy, naming Narayan Iyengar its SVP, digital marketing and e-commerce. He will lead the company’s digital marketing for loyalty programs, shopper marketing and overall digital presence, as well as all aspects of the e-commerce business, which includes home delivery. 
 
“As a company, we’ve made significant investments in the customer experience over the last two years, from new technology that originated in our Culinary Kitchens and Technical Center to our comprehensive data and analytics platforms,” said Shane Sampson, Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer. “E-Commerce, digital and social media channels hold unlimited potential for delivering the kind of personalized service our customers want. Narayan’s expertise will enable us to deploy new service and marketing models to attract more shoppers and grow our business both in stores and online.”
 
Iyengar has spent nearly 20 years in e-commerce, digital and business transformation and joins Albertsons from the Walt Disney Co., where he was VP e-commerce and digital travel trade. At Disney, he built, enhanced and optimized e-commerce capabilities across 20 websites and apps. 
 
Before his time at Disney, Iyengar was a leader at McKinsey’s Digital and Business Technology group focusing on helping global firms frive business value through technology. He began his career on IBM Global Services’s e-commerce team in 1996 as a software engineer. 
 
“I am thrilled to be joining this great company at such a crucial time of digital-led change in the grocery industry,” Iyengar said. “I was drawn to Albertsons Co. for its core values, culture and the people, and I look forward to working with Shane and the Albertsons Companies leadership team across all 14 divisions to enable and enhance their core business by using digital tools across more product lines to personalize the shopping experience for customers.”
 
Iyengar’s new role is effective immediately and he will relocate to the company’s Pleasanton, Calif. office in the coming weeks. 
 

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