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Mobile Banking on a Tear, Says Fed
March 27, 2015
The Federal Reserve Board has released its fourth annual study of consumers' mobile commerce behaviors. The report shows a continued boom in banking on mobile phones and other devices rather than at a teller desk. Central to the report's findings is the growing number of "banked" consumers -- those with full access to bank services -- who also use a smartphone.
Optimizing the Brick-and-Mortar Customer Experience
March 27, 2015
The retail industry has finally awakened to what customers always have known -- they don't distinguish too much between channels. Modern shoppers are happy to embrace the immediacy and experience of the physical store while also benefiting from the informed and personalized ease of shopping online. Retailers should translate the smartest online strategies into their in-store experience.
Square Reshapes Itself for Small Businesses
March 10, 2015
Square on Monday introduced two new services for small businesses: instant deposits; and protection for disputed purchases. Square, which six years ago began offering square-shaped mobile credit card readers for smartphones and tablets, has shifted its focus away from point-of-sale operations and toward data collection. The company processes millions of credit card swipes daily.
Mobile Wallets as Credit Card Killers
March 09, 2015
Years have spent trying to oust the credit card as the ultimate payment method. Publications and pundits have been quick to hail new technologies as "credit card-killers," and they're not without justification. The credit card has lost whatever futuristic luster it may have once had. Magnetic stripes wear out, plastic snaps in half, and the incessant manual inputting of 16-digit numbers becomes tiresome.
Apple Pay Cybercrime Burns Banks
March 04, 2015
Identity thieves are using Apple Pay to defraud banks of what could amount to millions of dollars. Due to weak authentication procedures at the institutions issuing the cards, fraudsters are able to use stolen cards to make purchases through Apple Pay. Before cards can be added to Apple Pay, they must be approved by the card issuer. Criminals are finding that process easy to game.
Android Pay: Mobile Payment Systems, Unite
March 04, 2015
Google this week confirmed that it's preparing to launch a mobile payments framework called "Android Pay." Google SVP of Product Sundar Pichai discussed the project at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Android Pay will be an API layer of Android. Google will incorporate standard features for mobile payments, such as tokenized card numbers, into an Android Pay software development kit.
Google Pads Its Wallet
February 24, 2015
Google on Monday announced a two-pronged thrust to beef up its efforts in the mobile wallet arena. It has struck agreements with Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile to preinstall the Google Wallet app, including its tap-and-pay functionality, on Android phones the carriers will offer later this year in the United States. The devices must run KitKat or later.
LoopPay Deal Rolls Samsung Into Mobile Pay Arena
February 19, 2015
Samsung has purchased mobile payments firm LoopPay to create its own digital wallet. LoopPay's contactless magnetic secure transmission technology works with magnetic stripe readers. "The one major advantage LoopPay/Samsung has over NFC and Google/Apple Pay is that currently it does not require a separate terminal to accept payments," noted Copper Mobile's Andrew Stern.
Yandex Asks Russian Authorities to Drop the Hammer on Google
February 18, 2015
Yandex has asked Russia's antitrust authorities to look into whether Google is breaking the country's laws by not allowing preinstallation of third-party services on Android devices. Three smartphone vendors told Yandex last year that they couldn't install its search engine as the default, the company claimed. Yandex is seeking to have the Android OS unbundled from Google Search.
Apple Pay Takes Flight on JetBlue
February 10, 2015
JetBlue on Tuesday announced that it will accept payments through Apple Pay in-flight. Passengers with an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or an Apple Watch, will be able to use Apple Pay to purchase snack boxes, food, beverages, onboard amenities and better seating. JetBlue will accept Apple Pay on select flights from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco beginning in mid-February.
Is an Apple Maps Upgrade in the Works?
February 09, 2015
The ad on Apple's job site is innocuous enough, seeking an engineering project manager for Apple Search. However, that raises questions about whether Apple has plans to further improve its Maps app, possibly by strengthening local listings, which are increasingly important to businesses. "Apple may well revamp its street maps, as that application has far more value in an increasingly mobile world," noted Alan Pelz-Sharpe, a research director at the 451 Group.
Instacart Bags $220 Million
January 14, 2015
Instacart on Tuesday announced it has raised $220 million, following a $44 million investment round in June of last year. The company uses a fleet of personal shoppers, who are independent contractors, to purchase and deliver items to customers. "The two main differentiators for Instacart are our focus on grocery and our strategy to partner with retailers," said Instacart's Nilam Ganenthiran.
Amazon Plans Fire Phone Do-Over for 2016
December 23, 2014
Amazon reportedly is working on a second iteration of its Fire Phone for release in 2016. Following the disappointing performance of the phone's first generation, it appears the company has gone back to the drawing board to determine the combination of features that will succeed. The first Fire Phone was "quite the learning experience," said analyst Michael Morgan.
2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
Apple Accused of Secretly Snuffing Non-iTunes Music Purchases
December 04, 2014
Apple for two years surreptitiously removed from iPods any music not purchased at its iTunes store, prosecutors charged Wednesday in federal court. The accusations surfaced during the trial of a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit claiming Apple violated federal and state laws when it issued iPod software updates that prevented the devices from playing songs not purchased on iTunes.
Customers Speak
December 03, 2014
Several news stories have provided interesting insights into the Black Friday phenomenon and into customer behavior. One indicates sales slipped by 0.5 percent from the same period last year, despite sharp discounting and stores opening on Thanksgiving. Another story shows how the Black Friday phenomenon is catching on in the UK. It looks like the mania is spreading even as it cools in the U.S.
Cyber Monday Reveals New Customer Spending Patterns
December 02, 2014
Despite a ho-hum level of sales volume over the past four days, online sales this Cyber Monday were up 8.7 percent over the same period in 2013 by late afternoon, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. Continuing a trend that has been growing for the last few years, mobile sales accounted for 21.3 percent of all online sales on Cyber Monday, an increase of 29.3 percent year over year.
Cyber Monday Brings Sweet Deals for Video Gamers
December 01, 2014
A batch of great online deals on Cyber Monday, on the heels of strong Black Friday sales at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, could make Microsoft's Xbox One video game system the big winner in the run-up to the holidays. The video game console headed into its second holiday season in second place to Sony's PlayStation 4, but Microsoft has introduced a number of bundles to draw in gamers.
Black Friday Reports: Sunny Online, Gloomy Off
December 01, 2014
It was the best of times and the worst of times for retailers over the 4-day long Thanksgiving Day-Black Friday weekend. If you were an online retailer, it was the best of times. If you were strictly a brick-and-mortar store, it was perhaps not quite the worst, but certainly worse than expected. Survey firm after survey firm reported the same general conclusion: Online sales rocked.
Apple's 'Get' Puts Paid to Free-App Sham
November 24, 2014
Apple has removed the word "free" from download buttons in its iOS and OS X app stores, replacing it with "get." European regulators recommended the action to Apple and Google earlier this year. In July, Google removed the "free" label from games that could be downloaded without cost -- but required in-app purchases to access a full set of features.
SMS: It's Not Just for Marketing Any More
November 20, 2014
There appears to be a new trend emerging in the enterprise mobile engagement space, according to OpenMarket. Increasingly, its enterprise customers are adapting its platform to use SMS in new ways, said Tim Fujita Yuhas, the company's director of product management. Sometimes those uses are obvious CRM plays; sometimes they fall more under the rubric of Internet of Things.
Facebook Lubes PR Gears to Dampen Privacy Worries
November 14, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced Privacy Basics, a set of interactive guides to answer the most commonly questions about how users can control their information on its site. It also aired proposed updates to its terms, data policy and cookies policy; improvements to ad targeting; and expansion of user control over ads. "This is mostly a messaging exercise," said tech analyst Rob Enderle.
Money Makes the World Go Round on Singles Day
November 11, 2014
Nov. 11 is Singles Day in China -- aka the "11.11 Shopping Festival" -- and the country's millions of unhitched celebrated the event by spending some quality time with online retail giant Alibaba. So far, the event has generated $9.3 billion in sales and 278 million orders shipped, the retailer reported. Slightly less than half, or 43 percent of those orders, were placed from mobile devices.
New Tool Alerts Etailers to Suspicious Characters
November 11, 2014
As thoughtful as mobile phone makers are when they design their products, there are always punters who want something that isn't there and are willing to hack a device to get it. In the Android world such a hack is called "rooting" a phone; in the iOS world, it's called "jailbreaking." Regardless of what it's called, it can turn a phone into a can of worms for retailers.

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