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.
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.
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.
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
Recognized major US department store Macy’s has recently launched a new mobile campaign highlighting its latest spring 2012 product collections at rock bottom prices.
The initiative has been launched through Us Magazine’s mobile site, and aims to get attention from Macy’s on-the-go customers and to drive a new direct to consumer discount channel.
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Mobile ads are placed in favorable locations at the top of the Us Magazine’s mobile site landing page, demonstrating a clear call-to-action for consumers to click through to another mobile site showcasing Macy’s “Spring Spectacular” sildenafil pills sale items. Users can also browse the retailers’ entire product inventory and benefit from free shipping.
Not a newcomer to mobile ad campaigns, Macy’s sees this component as crucial to move sales in new directions and continue to develop their mobile component. Having already launched augmented reality platforms to SMS marketing, Macy’s has tapped into the emerging mobile space in a big way.
On May 3rd, 2012 and hosted by Mobile Commerce Daily, industry leaders will converge at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City to discuss the rapidly growing market segment of mobile commerce. Guest speakers from Amazon, Zappos, Citi, Travelocity, GGP and Alon Brands will discuss various topics involving mobile strategy. The event targets many businesses that can benefit from developing an integrated approach to mobile, including; ad agencies, media placement firms, brands and retailers.
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The Mcommerce Summit has been designed to complement the growing portfolio of seminars currently hosted by Mobile Commerce Daily, including Mobile FirstLook and Mobile Marketing Summit, both recognized as leading conferences in the mobile field.
Limited to only 200 delegates, registration is now open at a cost of $495 for the day, which includes all meals and refreshments. Please visit www.mcommercesummit.com for more information and to register.
Shop.org, comScore Inc., and The Partnering Group teamed up to deliver a study that assessed the adoption of mobile technology and willingness of smartphone users to interact with various m-commerce platforms and promotions. It would seem this study was timely what with the rise of smartphone usage and its link to the increasing revenue generated from m-commerce platforms.
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The 2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Consumer study revealed data that furthers the notion m-commerce is indeed on the rise and primarily driven by smartphone usage. The percent of total e-commerce dollars spent while using a mobile device was three times larger than that of the same period in 2010. Moreover, 33 percent of respondents indicated they would be willing to share location information with retailers when prompted through the various map functions on mobile sites or via check-in systems on platforms like Four Square. Vicki Cantrell, current executive director over at Shop.org added; “The biggest news is that smartphone and tablet e-commerce spend tripled from Q4 2010 to Q4 2011, you just can’t ignore these numbers”.
Cantrell concluded that the more important underlying trend is the current convergence of social and mobile worlds which, make it easier for retailers to use geo-location and custom tailored messaging to users.
GNC, a health and wellness specialty retailer, launched an iPhone application in March of 2011 and has seen over 100,000 downloads. This interest has prompted the company to focus and redesign the mobile app to further please tech-savvy customers.
The application is available free of charge for both iPhone and Android users and hosts a wide range of information on the GNC brand, products, and includes a mobile commerce engine. Jeff Hennion, GNC’s chief marketing and e-commerce officer, spoke proudly of their new app: “Our strategy is to go to our customers, wherever they are and however they want to shop.”
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According to Hennion, a large amount of GNC’s core consumer spends many hours researching products as they are geared toward specific health benefits. The addition of an overhauled mobile site allows for continuity between the regular website and hosts the same amount of product info.
Users can browse products, check out the latest deals, track their own personal supplement use, find store locations, access recipes, and store the GNC membership card info directly in the app allowing them not to have to carry the actual card.
The mobile space is becoming a centerpiece for digital marketers as the increasing sales and usage of mobile smart devices, phones and tablets and driving consumers to connect and consume in different ways. Much like traditional media, advertising is all around us, and the need for exciting creative and engaging ads is evermore paramount to a campaign’s success or failure.
Zappos, an e-commerce powerhouse known mostly for their outstanding customer service, has decided to become more active in mobile and launch campaigns targeted to entertain and interact with end-consumers.
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In their latest initiative, mobile ads hosted within the US Magazine mobile site, target consumers with a call-to-action to click through to a mobile site and interact on a content-based level tied back to the current Spring 2012 product showcased on the Zappos site. Users are encouraged to pick through a host of topics and create their own Spring 12 story by filling in the gaps with words of their choosing. Users are free to browse products, make purchases or simply share content.
This initiative is both engaging and entertaining, two attributes that are key to building successful mobile campaigns. Whether or not this campaign leads to hard line sales will be the true test for success or failure.