The Anonymous Widower

Making An Investment Using My Zopa Funds

Over the past eight years, I have built up a seasonable six-figure sum in Zopa. It has paid me upwards of five or six percent  after all deduction of losses and charges over those years and it has been a safe investment compared to some others I could have made.

But now is the time to liberate it, as I want to invest in something important to me, and liberating any of my other investments, would mean reducing my pension pot.

I am not selling any of my performing loans in Zopa, but just liberating any interest and principal repayments. Typically, about six percent of the money I have invested in Zopa is returned to my bank account each month.

It has been a painless way to fund my investment.

Various financial advisers have told me that peer-to-peer lending like Zopa is risky. But of course, there’s no way they can get a commission.

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Finance | | 3 Comments

Trenitalia To Buy c2c

There are several several articles like this one in Railway Gazette, which is entitled Trenitalia buys c2c to enter UK rail market.

So what will it mean?

Ultimate Ownership

The ultimate ownership of a train operating company seems to have very little difference to the  quality of trains and customer service.

I will look at  a recent journey I made from Leipzig to Brussels on Deutche Bahn, that I wrote about in Deutsche Bahn’s Idea Of Customer Service.

It was not a good journey and in the post, I say that eutche Bahn is nowhere as good as Chiltern.

And who owns Chiltern? – Deutsche Bahn.

So I suspect we’ll see very few changes on c2c because of the change of ownership, with perhaps the following provisos.

When successful companies are taken over, the Senior Management Team often depart to pastures or in this case railways, new.

The article also says this.

Mick Cash, General Secretary of pro-nationalisation trade union RMT, was less enthusiastic about the announcement. ‘This is yet another part of Britain’s rail operations being sold off to a European state-owned outfit’, he said. ‘This time it is Trenitalia, an Italian operator, that is being given an open door to plunder passengers and the public purse to subsidise rail services in their own country.’

Looking at the mess, that the RMT and its fellow travellers have got Southern into, this could be omnious.

The Future For c2c’s Services

Look at the route map of most rail franchises and a twelve-year-old with a pencil could suggest obvious places where the network could be expanded.

But there are few places , where c2c could expand.

  • Reinstate the Tilbury Riverside Branch.
  • Direct access to Crossrail at Stratford.
  • A Canvey Island Branch

So much of the growth will come from more frequent and faster services to existing destinations, more and better trains and improvements to stations.

There must be scope for Automatic Train Operation (ATO) at the London end of the route to improve capacity and reduce journey times.

Conclusion

I had to scrape together a scenario for the future and it leads me to the conclusion that c2c is virtually fully developed. So have National Express decided to sell c2c, as it is a mature asset, that is worth more to xomebody else. Especially, a new entrant to the UK rail market, who wants to know how to run a UK train franchise.

In some ways it’s a bit like a bank selling on a long-term loan to a blue-chip company, to another back.

 

January 12, 2017 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Why Did You Cancel Your BT Direct Debit?

I picked up the phone and a believable voice asked the title of this post.

As there was no number visible on the phone display, I said that I hadn’t cancelled it and said, that I’ll check with my bank, before I put the phone back in its cradle.

It rang immediately, so I picked it up and told the caller to Fuck Off, as no company like BT would react like that, after I’d told them, I would check with my bank.

The phone rang about four more times and I suspect they had control of it, so I didn’t use it, but conteacted my bank on my mobile. The BT Direct Debit was still there.

An hour or so later, I rang a couple of friends to check my phone and the phone appeared to be working fine.

On checking with BT, they told me it was a well known scam.

The strange thing was that the call came on the day before my BT bill was due to be paid.

So as the scammer, had my phone number, name and billing date, it sounds like someone had read my details in a BT database.

One thing though the helpful girl from BT told me, was that if you cancel your Direct Debit to BT for any reason, you’ll get an e-mail.

So if you haven’t received an e-mail saying you’ve cancelled, it would appear that you haven’t cancelled.

Bloodly scammers!

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | 1 Comment

Zopa Has A Problem

Zopa have just told me that because of the large amount of money they are getting in and the shortage of good creditworthy individuals to lend it to, they have decided that although existing borrowers like me can continue to reinvest, that for a few months we won’t be able to add new money.

This doesn’t appear to be any problem with Zopa except one of success.

But it does say to me that if you are an individual with a good credit rating, that Zopa could be a place to look for a loan.

December 5, 2016 Posted by | Finance | | 1 Comment

Don’t Get A Mask To Rob A Bank – Just Buy The App

This is the title of an article in The Sunday Times.

It talks about an App called Blackshades, that can be bought for three hundred pounds, that enables a thief to seize control of a victim’s computer and steal their passwords.

Hopefully, I’m protected but it’s a frightening concept. My passwords aren’t stored on the computer, but in my Mark 1, 1947-vintage core store, which is the safest place for them.

It also says that infiltrating a smart-phone or tablet can be easier than targetting desktops, saying that many criminals set up malicious hotspots in public places.

For that reason, I only use wi-fi in trusted locations and usually have it switched off on my smart phone. I never use wi-fi that wants my e-mail address as giving it usually ensures, I’ll get marketing e-mails, which I class as spam.

I also check my bank account and credit cards every day or so, so that if I’m robbed, I know it first.

From what I can ascertain, I think that contactless payments are pretty safe, especially in London, where there are billions of transactions because of public transport.

So I use contctless wherever I can locally!

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Finance | , , , , | Leave a comment

SBB To Sell Bitcoin

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Global Rail News.

If you don’t know; SBB stands for Swiss Federal Railways.

It’s an interesting development to say the least!

Especially, when you read the last paragraph.

And you can’t buy SBB train tickets using your shiny new currency, it isn’t an accepted payment method by SBB.

I wonder how long it will be before, I can buy and use bitcoin on a UK rail station?

November 1, 2016 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Threat Of UK Tax Cut Staves Off Hostile EU

This is the headline on an article in the Sunday Times, which suggests that the UK may cut corporate tax rates from 20% to 10% unless the EU grants the UK access to the single market.

I don’t know whether it is speculation on the paper’s part, but it does illustrate how Brexit means that it removes a whole set of rules from the UK Government.

It is an interesting suggestion!

I think it could have these effects.

  • Companies like Apple, Starbucks, Google and Amazon would look at the UK favourably.
  • If a company was spending fortunes on research, the UK would probably be more attractive, as if say they developed a world-beating drug, they wouldn’t pay as much tax on the large profits.

But I never heard it mentioned in the Referendum.

It probably shows how our politicians all think inside boxes and that those in Europe do even more so!

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | 2 Comments

The Evil Devices In Our Midst

I recommend that my readers, if there are any out there, read this article on the BBC, which is entitled ‘Smart’ home devices used as weapons in website attack.

It would appear that last Friday, that a company called Dyn suffered a denial of service attack. The attack and its effects is described in on Wikipedia.

The reasons behind the attack are still not clear and it could be in support for Wikileaks or in my mind just to prove it can be done.

But I doubt it will have any repercussions for the average John and Jenny, unless they want to buy something on eBay say!

To me, as someone who believes that in his day, he was a world-class programmer, I think that we haven’t seen anything like the end of evil minds working their wicked spells on the Internet.

Suppose you use an App to access your bank account or pay for your taxi on your phone.

How long before you’re sitting in a coffee shop, library or railway station, happily surfing the Internet and a message comes up on your phone, asking you to download the latest Taxi App say? Except that it won’t be!

You innocently download it and within minutes your bank account has been emptied or your credit card has been maxed out.

For that reason, I and other programmers I’ve spoken to, will never load an App that needs any financial information to my phone.

Any web site with your financial information, should only be accessed from a totally private connection.

We cannot be too careful.

When I started to use my American Express card for contactless payments, I noticed some strange payments without any recognisable name on my statement.

So I challenged them with Amex and they refunded them.

But they kept coming, until I realised that they were for a branch of a well-known store that had setup its tills wrongly.

In all this, Amex had been puzzled too and one of their security experts had talked to me. He told me that the level of fraud on contactless cards was less than they had expected, something which seems to have been confirmed by the lack of hard stories of fraud on contactless cards.

A policeman told me, that the limit of thirty pounds is not enough for the average card criminal, who like to deal in thirty thousand pounds a hit.

He also felt that as many contactless transactions are on CCTV, that intelligent criminals think they could be a Get Into Jail Quickly card.

As other more reliable payment methods like face recognition become more common, I feel that in the future, there will be no need to store any financial details on your phone, that can be hacked.

But until that happens, there will be no obvious financial details on my phone.

Certain details like passport number are hidden in the phone, in case of loss abroard.

 

 

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Finance | , , | 1 Comment

How To Annoy Customers

I just sent this message to John Lewis Card Services.

I shall be cancelling my card at the earliest possible opportunity.

I have a problem with my left arm, due to it being broken by the school bully and a stroke which didn’t help.

So for convenience, i don’t use any web sites that use the shift keys in passwords.

Why do people do this?

Passwords should always be able to be typed with one hand.

For instance, why couldn’t I use say “donald=13”?

No-one would guess that!

October 10, 2016 Posted by | Finance | , | 2 Comments

Old Uncle Tom Cobley And All Financing

This article from Railway Gazette is entitled Pension funds back Abellio East Anglia order for Stadler trainsets.

These details of the trains are given.

Stadler’s first major order for UK main line passenger rolling stock covers 58 Flirt UK trainsets to be built in Switzerland. There will be 10 12-car 25 kV 50 Hz inter-city EMUs for London – Norwich services with 628 standard and 80 first class seats plus a bistro, and 10 12-car EMUs for the London – Stansted Airport route with 710 standard class only seats. The 24 four-car and 14 three-car electro-diesel units for standard class only regional services will have the diesel engines in a mid-train power module car.

But the most interesting part of the article is about the financing of the trains.

Funding is being led by Rock Rail and SL Capital Partners, with additional co-investment equity provided by the GLIL infrastructure investment joint venture of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and London Pensions Fund Authority. Debt was arranged by DC Advisory from Aviva, Sun Life, Barings Asset Management, Legal & General, Standard Life Investments and the European Investment Bank, which is providing a 28-year £60m loan using its European Fund for Strategic Investments guarantee for the first time in the UK.

A large number of reputable names seem to have their signatures on the deal.

I notice that the European Inveestment Bank is there, so they can’t be too bothered about Brexit.

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , | Leave a comment