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Starbucks rocking the mobile world with over 70 million mobile transactions

Thursday, 31 January, 2013

The Starbucks Coffee Company has become an architect of great commercial success with their entry to mobile applications world eighteen months ago. As of late last year they can now boast in having over 70 million payments through their mobile application, which is an amazing feat for any company mobile presence.
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Unlike many other merchants who use a third party payment processing application the Starbucks application was launched with a built-in payment service. That is set to change, as Square and Apple’s Passbook are now going to be well unified to the Starbucks brand, the former through a directory link to Starbucks and the latter will be integrated to iPod Touch or iPhone via Passbook software. These are very exciting developments; the future holds much innovation and further mobile presence for Starbucks.new balance m1500

Mobile app assisting those with visual disabilities

Friday, 28 September, 2012

A mobile application published by the nonprofit group Horizons for the Blind is offering solutions to the visually-impaired by increasing their autonomy when shopping at stores. Horizons for the Blind have been working on the app, called DirectionsForMe, with consumer package goods group Gladson with the intention of aiding those who have trouble with vision and the challenges they face as consumers. Camille Cafferlli is the founder of Horizons for the Blind and briefly took time to explain the initiative:

“DirectionsForMe provides a platform of independence … it allows you to put in a product name, and then you get all the directions, the warnings, the ingredients and anything else that would be on the package…”

The app will also be a benefit to seniors who may have trouble making out important information among the complicated packaging we see nowadays, as well as the small print in the case of ingredient listing. A user of DirectionsForMe will experience three functionalities once the product is scanned whereby information is presented through 1) A voice reading out the information 2) a portable braille reader and 3) augmented text size on a smartphone.
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It’s good to see mobile technology being used as a tool to empower the disadvantaged instead of only as a marketing channel. Hopefully DirectionsForMe meets a lot of success and inspires other like-minded applications.

http://pymnts.com/ Sept 2012

Cybercrime: are you one of its increasing numbers of victims?

Friday, 14 September, 2012

A new Norton Cybercrime Report cites that 1.5 million people worldwide are victims of online crime on a daily basis. They also claim that 2 out of every 3 internet users have been affected by cybercrime at least once in their lifetime and the costs on consumers are over a billion dollars (USD) per year. These numbers are truly staggering.  On average, victims are averaging $197 in financial losses as a result of this epidemic.

As more people turn to smartphones to access the internet, they increase the probability to succumbing to cybercriminals activities. Threats were initially low with the use of mobile phones but now since nearly 2 out of 3 people are online via their smartphones the threat has increased to over 200%.
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Social networks are also major targets. The report states that 4 out of every 10 users have suffered from cyber criminals hacking into their platform. In addition to that two-thirds of people have not set up security settings on their mobile phones or otherwise. Surprisingly, there are an estimated 44% of users that don’t even realize they have security settings to help offset any cyber crimes. Sounds like it’s time for all of us to wise up and get educated on how we can stop cybercriminals in their tracks.

http://www.thepaypers.com/news/

Everything Everywhere and MasterCard team up

Friday, 7 September, 2012

MasterCard’s deal with T-Mobile and Orange has come to an end. A new 5 year deal between MasterCard and Everything Everywhere has been forged. Their plan is to develop a person to person payment system close in comparison to Pingit.  This is not good news to rival networks O2 and Vodafone, who are also working together to build out a unified mobile payment service called Project Oscar, which would have standardized the system across the nation. Vodafone is currently partnered with Visa and O2 is attempting to establish their own system. It will be interesting to see just how this all pans out in the grand scheme of things. Stay tuned.
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American Sale bringing delivery convenience to customers via mobile

Thursday, 30 August, 2012

Anybody who has had to wait for delivery from a store knows the pain of being stuck at home, prisoner to the vague delivery times given to them. Superstore American Sale is changing that through the establishment of their own SMS service that will send a text to the customer, giving them an anticipated time and date of delivery. SMS may be viewed as becoming a strong alternative to a store’s applications, which not every consumer may be interested in using or even have the hardware to operate with.

SMS is also growing in strength because it benefits both parties equally at a low cost: the rapid convenience of text messaging for consumers and the marketing bond/service satisfaction that the business creates with their clients. Their director of mobile and digital unification at American Sale, Dave Lawson had this to say:

““By opening up SMS for notifications and delivery efficiency, American Sale is taking a proactive step to activating a highly relevant channel for customers…”
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Knotice is the company behind the SMS feature which notifies customers the day previous to their intended delivery. What is the overall strength of SMS in the future? As long as it remains lean and responsive it should remain a strong option for most businesses.

 

http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/ August 2012

Google Wallet releases version 2.0

Friday, 17 August, 2012

Out with the old and in with the new. Google has released version 2.0 of their Google Wallet service which allows a prepaid credit card of your choice to be stored in a completely secure environment.  The prepaid card simply funds the purchase when a mobile payment is made. This system is an improvement over previous version 1.0 which needed card issuers to become involved in provisioning the payment cards to Google Wallet.

In terms of security Google has gone down a different path regarding their technical approach: the cards are now stored on Google’s impeccably secure servers instead of on the secure storage area provided in all smart phone devices. A virtual card number is still stored there to help facilitate the purchase. Google then charges your selected card immediately thereafter. This new version actually speeds up the integration process for banks, enabling them to add their cards to the Wallet in literally weeks. This new methodology may pave the way for a better solution to support all credit and debit cards.
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Google has also made it much easier to disable your mobile wallet in cases of theft or loss of the phone. With a simple visit to the “Devices” section in your online wallet you can find the phone that you want disabled and Google Wallet will then not authorize any transactions until you effectively change the settings.

http://www.nfcworld.com/2012/08/01/317105/google-wallet-2-0-the-easy-way-to-pay-with-nfc/

Boston’s LevelUp continues to secure major funding within the mobile payments arena

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012

LevelUp, the Boston based mobile payment service provider and sister company to SCVNGR, has announced that they have raised an additional $9 million to up their total funding to a whopping $21 million. The latest investment comes from T-Venture, who is the venture capital branch of Deutsche Telecom.

LevelUp users can pay and gain loyalty points through their mobile device at over 3,000 merchants across the United States. They boast relationships with some major players such as Quizno’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Johnny Rockets and many more to come. There are plans to provide their services in 50 major market cities in the U.S. and will also announce partnerships with even larger nationwide chains in the next few months. Currently, there are over 200k users that are generating in excess of $2 million a month in sales by utilizing LevelUp’s services.

As of now, LevelUp relies exclusively on QR codes as its payment solution but that is eventually going to change. NFC capabilities are not that far from the mix as they pledge to add additional value by getting LevelUp into the hands of the masses any way it can.
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In order to do this efficiently LevelUp has lowered their interchange rates to zero, and with their competitors still charging as high as 3%, the playing field is opening up in their favor.  They will however be charging the merchant 35 percent each time a consumer redeems loyalty rewards. This may end up costing the merchant more but by offering them a one-stop solution for customer acquisition, retention and analytics, they are hoping that will more than make up the difference. They are certainly set up to penetrate the market in a way that will warrant a closer second look by all their major competitors.

Apple moving in on mobile payments technology with AuthenTec purchase

Tuesday, 7 August, 2012

The first important bit of news is that Apple’s foray into the mobile payments world will begin this fall with the release of their Passbook software. We mentioned two weeks ago that Passbook would be delayed, however it was recently announced that it would appear in their next iOS as an application.

The second bit of news concerns AuthenTec’s technology, which facilitates software for fingerprint/identity purposes. Apple has made an offer for $356 million dollars to purchase the sensor chip licenses from AuthenTec, which will presumably be used for fingerprint validation for mobile payments in the upcoming Passbook app.
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This is an obvious shot across the bow to Samsung and Google, who could very possibly counter-offer the bid made by Apple for ownership of Authentec. Any firm with reliable technology related to mobile payments will be courting big players like Apple and such in near future.

source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/27/us-authentec-acquisition-apple-idUSBRE86Q0KD20120727

Is ViVOtech closing its doors? CEO Mick Mullagh says no

Tuesday, 31 July, 2012

The NFC (near field communication) software and POS systems company ViVOtech is reported to be shutting down its operations, despite securing nearly $100 million in funding over the past ten years. However CEO Mick Mullagh says otherwise:

“ViVOtech’s business fundamentals are strong and orders and contracts are building in both its reader and software businesses. Over the last six months the company has been executing a strategy to divest its reader business to a qualified buyer. This sale has moved slower than anticipated. ViVOtech has not ceased operations but is in the process of restructuring operations and has reduced its team to a smaller group with the goals of maintaining customer relationship and core contract work, and to address our supplier relationships and commitments, as the company completes plans to divest the reader business and focus on the Software Business. ViVOtech is in dialog with its customers and suppliers on the current situation but will be making no other public statements”.
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ViVOtech develop POS systems and NFC products such as smart posters, contactless readers, writers, and various other software programs. They have also partnered with some of the biggest players in the industry like Google (Google Wallet) and Isis in an NFC joint venture between the largest US mobile companies Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

This apparent closure comes as an unexpected turn of events, considering the staggering numbers (one million terminals shipped, 80% of the market share for NFC products in the US and double digit millions in sales) and the heavy weight brands that are using their array of products (McDonald’s, Whole Foods and Home Depot).

The questions raised on how this could have happened are abundant. The current consensus is that ViVOtech perhaps hit the market at a stage before NSF technology exceeded market expectations or that their partners VeriFone dropped the relationship in favor of pushing their own reader. Either way, one thing is for sure; the industry players are baffled by this unexpected news.

Context taken from: http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/27/report-google-nfc-partner-vivotech-shutting-down-operations/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29

Costco enhancing customer experience with their new mobile app

Monday, 30 July, 2012

Members of Costco who are also Android and iPhone users will now have access to a free app that will greatly enhance their shopping experience. Costco has successfully tied many of their in-store services with the accessibility of the mobile application: pharmacy prescriptions can be refilled and checked on, items not available at nearby locations can be delivered when ordered, photos uploaded to their Photo Center, new coupons can be claimed, and memberships renewed. Not a Costco member? Not a problem. You can sign up through the app.
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These are functionalities that will strengthen a customer’s loyalty to the Costco brand. There are subtle ways that this app is going to promote traffic to stores, seeing as most services end with a customer going to one of the locations and that Costco is encouraging members to send in their app ideas for potential future integration.

From androidpolice.com, 07/02/12