Posts tagged Reportedly

Apple Has Reportedly Forced Banks To Stop “Taxing” Mobile Payments

When Apple reportedly struck deals with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, I pointed out that those alone weren’t enough to put the iPhone maker in the retail payments business.

Now Tom Noyes, a former Citi executive, says that Apple has struck deals with the five largest card-issuing banks—JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Capital One, and American Express.

Remarkably, Apple has not only gotten these banks to agree to accept iPhone-linked payments, but it has gotten them to offer rebates of up to 0.25% of the amount of a transaction on the credit- and debit-card fees, known as “interchange,” that Apple must pay. (Those rates vary widely, but you can think of them as averaging 1.5–1.75% of a transaction.)

See also: Apple Is Walking Into Payments Naked

In return, Apple will assume some of the risk of fraudulent transactions, using its TouchID biometric sensors, NFC, and geolocation data to assure itself and its bank partners that a customer really is the one conducting a transaction.

Apple Makes The Banks Cry Uncle

Apple has done a remarkable thing here: It has overturned a longtime tax on e-commerce transactions laid by the banks and shouldered by online merchants (and thus, ultimately, consumers).

Visa, MasterCard, and the rest of the financial establishment have long treated online purchases as “card not present” transactions, just because consumers type in their credit-card numbers rather than swipe the magnetic stripe. And those transactions carry higher interchange fees than regular retail transactions, ostensibly to cover a higher risk of credit-card fraud.

That system has persisted, even as e-commerce and mobile payments are increasingly showing themselves to be more resilient against fraud than traditional retail payments, as the massive hacks of Target and Home Depot stores have shown.

See also: Home Depot’s Massive Card Breach Is An Opening For PayPal, Apple and Google

Bill Ready, the CEO of Braintree, has long made the argument to me that banks should treat mobile transactions as more secure, not less secure, than retail payments. That’s particularly true given all the information you can gather about a consumer from his or her device. But that hasn’t gotten his company, now a subsidiary of eBay’s PayPal, a break on rates.

“We have a strong argument for why our rates should be lower, and the card networks have been a bit intransigent on that,” Ready recently told me.

By negotiating rebates with the big banks, as Noyes claims it has, Apple has essentially bypassed Visa and MasterCard. Or, put another way, it has found a way for Visa and MasterCard to save face and maintain the integrity of their rate structure, while cutting a side deal with their largest card issuers. (American Express, as both a bank and a payments network, has more freedom to maneuver with partners like Apple—though it usually sets even higher interchange rates.)

By getting a break on interchange, Apple at the very least won’t lose money on its payments business. It may be able to attract merchants by passing on these lower rates.

Breaking The Digital-Payments Logjam

And Apple could pull off something even bigger. By setting a precedent that the banks are willing to cut deals with mobile payments players, it may pave the way for PayPal, Google, and Amazon to strike similar rebate agreements—provided they’re willing to shoulder some of the costs of fraud, as Apple reportedly is. That may test those companies’ confidence in their fraud-detection algorithms and their software and hardware protections.

Apple may want to reflect a bit more on whether it’s really ready to shoulder that risk. Events over the past week have revealed security holes in its iCloud backup service. It may also have to take on some of the burden of customer service in exchange for the rebates it’s getting.

See also: How Apple Made Its Users Vulnerable To iCloud Theft

Apple still has to persuade thousands of other banks to go along with its iPhone payments scheme. It must also sign up merchants—and sell lots of TouchID-enabled iPhones. On that last bit, at least, it has a proven track record of success.

Photo by The Consumerist

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Samsung Buys Smart-Home Outfit SmartThings, Reportedly For $200 Million

Alex Hawkinson, founder of SmartThings

It’s official: Samsung’s long-rumored acquisition bid for smart-home company SmartThings is now a reality. Neither company announced terms of the deal, although Recode reports that the sale price was $200 million. If that’s true, Samsung got quite a steal, considering Google blew $3.2 billion on Nest, maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors. 

Unlike those gadgets, SmartThings isn’t a standalone product, but a developer-friendly platform that’s compatible with many devices from other companies. That makes this deal a shortcut for Samsung, which now doesn’t have to grow its own smart home initiative from scratch. 

See also: Why Samsung Buying SmartThings Should Have Us Worried

On the SmartThings blog, founder and CEO Alex Hawkinson wrote, “We believe that there is an enormous opportunity to leverage Samsung’s global scale to help us realize our long-term vision.” Ideally, in other words, Samsung’s worldwide reach in product areas ranging from smart TVs to smartphones to kitchen appliances could rocket SmartThings devices into homes around the globe.

Perhaps. But the SmartThings crew may want to brace itself anyway. Samsung loves throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Hopefully SmartThings’ carefully nurtured developer relationships and evolving ecosystem won’t be among them. Because no one ever wants to see a smart home loaded down with confusion and bloatware.

Hawkinson said that SmartThings, which will technically become part of the Samsung Open Innovation Center (OIC) in San Francisco, will continue to run as an independent operation under his leadership.

Lead image courtesy of SmartThings

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Microsoft Is Also Reportedly Piling Into The Smartwatch Race

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his company would forget past blunders—like missing the boat on smartphones—and focus on the future, he wasn’t kidding. The Surface maker is planning on entering the rapidly growing smartwatch market with its very own wristworn contender, Forbes reports.

According to sources “with knowledge of the company’s plans,” the device will be festooned with sensors and will incorporate technology and expertise from Microsoft’s Kinect motion-detecting controller, specifically in optical engineering, to continuously track heart rate. The gadget will supposedly feature a color display oriented on the underside of the wrist, presumably for privacy protection, with an overall appearance similar to Samsung’s Gear Fit.

Unlike Samsung’s device, however, Microsoft’s version will work with Androids, iPhones and Windows Phones when it debuts, possibly this summer.

Image collage by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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Samsung Reportedly Has A New Smartwatch Communicator Up Its Sleeve

Samsung's Gear 2

Samsung's Gear 2

Samsung has decided to augment its recently announced lineup of wearables—the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit—with another new smartwatch due out this summer, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Unlike the previous models, the South Korean tech maker is reportedly working on a standalone smartwatch that can make calls, send messages, track heartrate and take photos without being paired to a smartphone. Details on Samsung’s unnamed device could be announced as soon as next week, during a press event Wednesday about giving health a voice.

The company has also been rumored to be working on a virtual reality gaming headset for use with its Galaxy phones and tablets. If true, Samsung’s “pray and spray” approach to mobiles has clearly expanded, with an ambitious, overarching bid to rule people’s heads, wrists and pockets.

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Twitter Is Reportedly Considering A Deal To Acquire SoundCloud by @mattsouthern

According to re/code, Twitter may be making another move into the music industry as they are reportedly considering a deal to buy SoundCloud. SoundCloud is a music and audio-sharing company that offers a free service where users can upload and share audio across the Internet. SoundCloud touts itself as the ‘YouTube for audio’. As of October 2013, SoundCloud had a user based of 250 million, according to TechCrunch. Earlier this year, SoundCloud was valued at $700 million, which means that if this deal does indeed go forward it would be Twitter’s most expensive acquisition to date. The appeal of this […]

The post Twitter Is Reportedly Considering A Deal To Acquire SoundCloud by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Facebook Reportedly Building A Snapchat Competitor Called ‘Slingshot’ by @mattsouthern

News broke over the weekend that Facebook is working on video messaging app that will be a direct competitor to the wildly popular app Snapchat. The Financial Times reports that Facebook’s app is known internally as ‘Slingshot’ and could launch as early as this month. However, another source states that Facebook may still decide not to move forward with Slingshot. Facebook themselves declined to comment on the reports. Slingshot will allow users to send short video messages to each other. Where Slingshot and Snapchat differ is that Snapchat recently introduced video chatting, while Slingshot will reportedly not offer not offer […]

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Google Is Reportedly Displaying Customer Reviews In Knowledge Graph For Local Searches

Mike Blumenthal has reported Google has been displaying customer reviews in the Knowledge Graph panel off and on for […]

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Matt Southern

Matt Southern is a marketing, communications and public relations professional. He provides strategic digital marketing services at an agency called Bureau in Ontario, Canada. He has a bachelors degree in communication and an unparalleled passion for helping businesses get their message out.

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Twitter Is Reportedly Phasing Out @-Replies From Its Service by @mattsouthern

Twitter is reportedly in the alpha stages of experimenting with a new version of its service that would see @-replies become phased out. BuzzFeed reports that Vivian Schiller, head of news at Twitter, first hinted at it this week during the Newspaper Association of America’s mediaXchange conference. She reportedly called @-replies ”arcane” and stated “We are working on moving […]

Author information

Matt Southern

Matt Southern is a marketing, communications and public relations professional. He provides strategic digital marketing services at an agency called Bureau in Ontario, Canada. He has a bachelors degree in communication and an unparalleled passion for helping businesses get their message out.

The post Twitter Is Reportedly Phasing Out @-Replies From Its Service by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Dropbox Upgrades For Business Users Will Reportedly Launch Next Month

Last November, Dropbox pledged that its business users would gain the ability to access their personal file-storage accounts as well, and now the company’s fulfilling that promise. According to The Verge, Dropbox sent an email to business customers about an upcoming press event, stating that the anticipated account-switching features will roll out across all of their devices on April 9. The email also reportedly notes that Dropbox will debut new administration tools. 

That means Dropbox’s business users will no longer have to log in and out (or use multiple browsers or privacy modes) to access documents in both their individual and professional accounts. It’s a move intended to make Dropbox friendlier to business users and thus, the company has said, to improve worker productivity.

Dropbox says that it serves more than 4 million businesses, a number dwarfed by the sheer size of its consumer user base. More than 200 million people use Dropbox to manage more than one billion files, the company says.

Dropbox may need all the help it can get. Google just slashed the price of Google Drive storage to $10 a month for a terabyte of storage—far less than Dropbox’s upper tier of consumer cloud storage, which costs five times as much for half the storage. 

Not that Dropbox, which is worth $8 billion, is hurting. But it faces tough competition, and not just from Google. One of its biggest rivals is Box, the cloud storage company that likewise started out catering to consumers, but doubled down on business clients in 2007. Box has reportedly already filed for an initial public offering.

Both services have pros and cons. Box may not be as easy to use or ubiquitous as Dropbox, but it offers the sort of advanced security that companies require. Security has been a sore point for Dropbox. 

But the company attracted $350 million in funding last month to bolster its enterprise software division. Some of that should—and probably will—go toward security. 

Image courtesy of Dropbox

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Satya Nadella Reportedly Microsoft’s Next CEO

Microsoft may have found its next CEO. Bloomberg on Thursday reports the executive board at Microsoft Corp. is prepared to make Satya Nadella, the company’s enterprise and cloud chief, the successor to departing CEO Steve Ballmer.

The Bloomberg report also said Microsoft’s board is also considering replacing Bill Gates as chairman of Microsoft, according to “people briefed on the process.” 

We are regularly updating this story so continue refreshing this page.

Image via LeWeb13 on Flickr

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