#386 Nov 03, 2014 – Apple Pay takes on all Contenders

This week’s headline story: Apple Pay takes on all Contenders

apple-payApple CEO Tim Cook has declared Apple’s new mobile payment system, Apple Pay a huge success! Apple Pay had over 1 million activations in its first three days and is now more widely used than any competing payment system. “We’re already No. 1. We’re more than the total of the other guys,” Cook boasted last week during a tech industry conference, “and we’ve only been at it a week.”

But is Apple Pay the run-away success that Cook suggests? There is a significant road block that has emerged that could stop Apple’s new ePayment technology in its tracks – or at least slow it down. It’s called CurrentC. CurrentC is the mobile payment system developed by the Merchant Customer Exchange, known as the MCX. The MCX is led by retail giants like Walmart, CVS, Right Aid, Target, Shell Oil, Sears, Publix, Lowes, Best Buy, Michaels and 7-Eleven. MCX requires its members to utilize MCX payment systems exclusively. It does not allow its members to support Apple Pay or any NFC wireless device transaction.

MCX has been working on its own mobile payment system name CurrentC. CurrentC has not yet been released, but doesn’t sound nearly as convenient as Apple Pay. It doesn’t utilize NFC wireless technology for payments, but instead requires the user to open the CurrentC app, then use a camera to scan a QR code, or to generate a QR code that gets scanned by the retailer. An Apple Pay payment only requires a swipe of an iPhone across a reader and a press of a finger on the home button for authentication.

CurrentC isn’t the only competitor to Apple Pay. Other retailers that aren’t part of MCX, like Starbucks and Taco Bell, are opting to develop their own mobile payment services, and so aren’t accepting Apple Pay either. Then there are the payment systems provided by Google and Microsoft. Google Wallet is an Apple Pay-like system that’s been available for years, but has so far failed to catch on.

So, why all the fervor around mobile payment systems? Well, you’ve probably heard the expression that information is power. Having access to information about consumer transactions will provide the service provider with a huge advantage in the marketplace. Knowing what, where and when consumers purchase, enables powerful marketing opportunities. Also, there are transaction fees associated with each purchase to consider as well. Ultimately Apple may need to provide some incentives – in terms of sharing information or sharing revenue, to get retailers on board just as it did with the record industry and iTunes. Or, perhaps it could just wait out its competitors and allow customer demand to drive the change.

in other tech news…

  • Google’s Secretive DeepMind Startup Unveils a “Neural Turing Machine” [Technology Review]

    Google’s secretive DeepMind startup, which it bought for $400 million earlier this year, unveiled a prototype computer that attempts to mimic some of the properties of the human brain’s short-term working memory. The new computer is a type of neural network that has been adapted to work with an external memory. The result is a computer that learns as it stores memories and can later retrieve them to perform logical tasks beyond those it has been trained to do.

  • Now on Aisle 3 at Lowe’s: Customer Service Robots [NewsFactor]

    Lowes is testing out customer service robots in one of its stores. The robots look like white columns with two large black screens on either side of them, and wheels to help them move. They are equipped with 3D cameras so they can scan and identify items. And customers can research items they want to buy on their screen. Then the robot can lead them to the aisle where an item is located.

  • Alert! Websites Will Soon Start Pushing App-Style Notifications [Tech Review]

    You’re probably familiar the ability of mobile apps to provide push notifications. Soon websites will be able to do the same. New browsers are supporting push notifications in different ways. Already websites owned by the New York Times and NBA have begunto ask users to opt in to notifications, providing timely information to the user without having to go through an installation process.

and in Information Security news this week..

  • Apple Pay Rival MCX’s User E-Mails Are Hacked [NewsFactor]

    Last week, MCX had its email system hacked just after declaring that its members should not allow Apple Pay payments. Coincidence?

  • AT&T, Verizon Use ‘Perma-Cookies’ To Track Phone Web Browsing [NewsFactor]

    Verizon Wireless and AT&T are inserting header codes – known as perma-cookies, into mobile traffic data that enables them to track customers’ browsing activities over LTE, 4G and 3G networks, according to an online security expert. The perma-cookies can be used to understand customer Web habits and deliver more targeted advertising to them.

  • Experts Say Major Cyberattack Coming [NewsFactor]

    A majority (61 percent) of experts polled by Pew say upcoming cyberattacks will include a major one somewhere that causes tens of billions of dollars in damage and “widespread harm to a nation’s security and capacity to defend itself and its people.”

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Android Creator Andy Rubin Exits the Googleplex [Ecommerce News]

    Andy Rubin, the creator of Google’s ubiquitous Android mobile platform, has left Google. Rubin reportedly is departing to start a tech incubator for hardware-focused startups.

  • Fitbit Unveils Three New Fitness Wearables [NewsFactor]

    The Fitbit has released three new fitness bands. The company says it learned a lot from it’s last band after receiving some 9,900 reports of skin irritation and 250 reports of blistering from wearers of the wristband. In addition to featuring new materials and texturing, the new Fitbit Charge, which retails for $129.95, has a battery life of up to seven days. It lets users track steps taken, distances traveled, calories burned, floors climbed and sleep and wake times. It comes with an OLED display showing both real-time stats and the time of day, and also provides a vibrating alert with caller ID when linked to a nearby smartphone. The Fitbit Charge HR, which will be priced at $149.95, will offer the same features as the Charge, along with several other capabilities. and for $249.95, the Surge comes with eight sensors for fitness tracking, GPS support and heart-rate monitoring.

  • Microsoft Reveals Its Band Fitness Tracker [NewsFactor]

    Microsoft arriving a bit late to the party, has announced the $199 Microsoft Band. Microsoft’s fitness band has 10 built-in sensors including GPS, an optical heart-rate sensor, a microphone, a gyrometer and an ambient light sensor. It provides the Cortana digital assistant, wrist-based text messaging, e-mail monitoring, and weather and financial updates. Wearers can also set the device to operate on watch mode for a continuous date and time display, and can use the band to make quick, credit-card and cash-free purchases at Starbucks. The Microsoft Band is now on sale, both online and at Microsoft Stores. Upon announcing its new fitness-tracking wristband last week, Microsoft also unveiled its Health platform, a cloud-based service for managing and analyzing health- and fitness-related data from wearables and other devices and services.

  • HP Bends Reality with 3D Printing Tech [NewsFactor]

    HP’s Sprout Combines PC and 3D Scanner [NewsFactor]

    HP is jumping into the future with two new devices. The company is releasing an industrial-scale 3D printer that it claims is 10X faster & 10X more precise than current technologies. HP also announced the Sprout – a desktop computer equipped for 3D scanning and printing with a user interface to offer what it says is a new computing experience. “We live in a 3D world, but today we create in a 2D world on existing devices,” said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president, Consumer PC & Solutions at HP. “People have always created with their hands. Concurrently, technology has progressed from the first transistors, through calculators to today’s most sophisticated computing platforms. Until now, the physical and digital worlds have largely been separated and digital creation has remained in 2D.” The Sprout is designed to change all of that bringing computing into our 3D world and our 3D world into computing.

and finally…

  • Zuckerberg’s Surprising 10-Year Plan for Facebook [NewsFactor]

    Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberd laid out his three, five, and ten-year goals for the social networking company during its third quarter conference call with investors last week. “One big priority for us here is messaging,” Zuckerberg said. The company plans to continue growing its newly acquired WhatsApp and its mobile Messenger service, following its initial attempt to transition more users to the Messenger app earlier this year. Among its goals for the next three years, the company will be focusing on expanding its work in video content. Over the next ten years, Zuckerberg said the company would be focused on developing artificial intelligence technology and expanding its efforts on the Internet.org initiative.

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