Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Monday, March 20, 2017 10:00 pm

Wells Fargo feeling sting of scandal

News services

Wells Fargo is still seeing fewer people at its bank ­branches as well as a decline in checking-account openings as the scandal over its sales practices takes its toll. But there is a silver lining: Its February numbers are up from December lows.

The San Francisco bank said Monday that customers opened 40 percent fewer checking accounts per day last month compared to a year earlier, while the number of customer interactions with branch bankers per day was down 17 percent. The numbers are similar to those it has been reporting since it started giving monthly updates late last year.

Credit card applications also dropped by 53 percent.

Wells Fargo has been working to restore customers’ trust since it was discovered that in order to meet lofty sales goals, employees opened up to 2 million bank and credit card accounts without customer authorization. The bank was fined $185 million by U.S. and California regulators.

Google gives away Wi-Fi school buses

Eighth-grader Lakaysha Gov­ernor spends two hours on the bus getting back and forth to school each day. Thanks to a grant from Google, she can now use that time more productively and get her homework done.

The aspiring forensic anthropologist is one of nearly 2,000 students in South Carolina’s rural Berkeley County who will ride to school on one of 28, Google-funded, Wi-Fi-equipped school buses unveiled Monday. The tech giant also has given the school district 1,700 Chromebooks, the stripped-down laptops on which many schoolchildren now do their classwork and homework.

As more class assignments and homework migrate online, such long bus rides have generally counted as lost time in preparing for the next school day. But Google said it hopes to help expand the use of Wi-Fi on school buses in other rural areas elsewhere around the country.

Comcast cable head stepping down

The head of Comcast Corp.’s cable division, Neil Smit, will relinquish the post on April 1 and be replaced by longtime cable division executive Dave Watson.

In explaining the move, Smit, a 60-year-old former Navy Seal, cited health issues related to a "previous career" and the desire to spend more time with his family. His compensation was $51 million over the last two years, according to Comcast’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The cable division, based in Philadelphia, includes pay-TV, high-speed internet, phone, and the fast-growing business services operations. Smit will help with the leadership transition then serve as vice chairman of Comcast. He’ll also consult on technology.

India will soon have new telecom leader

British telecom company Vodafone’s Indian unit on Monday announced a merger with Idea Cellular, a local company, creating India’s largest telecom operator, with about 400 million customers.

Vodafone will own 45.1 percent of the combined company and Idea will have a 26 percent stake, while the rest will be owned by public shareholders after the merger, which is expected to be completed next year, the companies said in a joint statement.

At present, Bharti Airtel is India’s biggest telecom player, with a market share of 23.6 percent and a customer base of 265.9 million.