Monday, May 4, 2015

Apple Pay announces partnership with Best Buy

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on Monday the 27th of April that Best Buy will begin accepting Apple Pay in its iOS app. The announcement also revealed that Apple Pay support will soon after be in Best Buy stores later this year. This means that Best Buy is now the first big-name U.S. retailer that has gone against the trend of retailers who are members of the MCX program.

Barry Blackburn / Shutterstock.com
The MCX program is a group of retailers and food chains that are currently in the process of constructing a payment app named CurrentC that is seen to be a likely rival to Apple Pay. CurrentC, which is expected to be launched later in 2015 will use barcodes rather than NFC for payments and is currently still in the testing phase. MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson has insisted that there are no fines or payments for leaving the program. However due to exclusivity agreements signed by Best Buy, they will not be able to be able to utilise Apple Pay until the agreement has run its course as MCX members cannot use CurrentC and Apple Pay simultaneously.

Despite this recent news, Scott Rankin, the MCX COO, has insisted that Best Buy are still “a strong MCX partner and supporter of the CurrentC initiative.”. He goes onto state that “we are of the firm belief that there need to be at least two to three major players within the mobile payments ecosystem for it to succeed. We remain steadfast and passionate about CurrentC, as well as completely focused on delivering the best mobile commerce solution for our merchant partners and consumers.”A Best Buy spokeswoman however stated that “We remain invested in MCX” but would not commit to accepting CurrentC when it launches to the public.

Denys Prykhodov / Shutterstock.com
The MCX consortium has the goal of creating a mobile wallet that includes payments methods that are less expensive for merchants to process than more traditional big-name credit cards. Apple Pay on the other hand is more favourable toward traditional debit and credit accounts. The system does not support cheaper store-branded cards and bank account hook ups. The system allows people with the newer models of the iPhone to make purchases in stores by placing their Apple Watch or phone near the checkout terminal. This eliminates the need for cash or cards and also is useful for online purchases. It will mean there is no need for the hassle of typing in credit card and shipping info for each online purchase. The phone or watch’s fingerprint identification technology aids in securing the transaction.

This partnership is a big one for Apple as MCX gained support from CVS and Rite Aid when they turned off Apple Pay in their stores. It’s not currently clear whether other MCX members may follow the lead of Best Buy and move to Apple Pay and thus not placing their trust in the CurrentC initiative. The test is whether customers embrace the Apple Pay system and can be convinced that paying with a phone or Apple Watch is easier and more convenient than cash and cards.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com



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Friday, May 1, 2015

See Latest APEX Europe Attendee List

In just a few short weeks, 200+ payments and retail executives are heading to Marbella for All Payments Expo Europe. This is Europe's only devoted retail & payments business development meeting, where the prepaid and retail value chain host meetings, create new partnerships and explore synergies.


With delegates coming from 25+ countries, you'll be able to hear insights from an international group of merchants, programme managers, issuers, MNOs, networks and processors. You'll sharpen your strategies with expert insights on:

  • Latest data on prepaid's growth and market size
  • New opportunities created by HCE technology
  • New sales channels for gift cards
  • White space for prepaid partnerships in mobile money, education and B2B
  • Consumer demands in contactless
  • Contextual commerce's impact on conversion and more!
Join an international community and get face time with the peers and partners you need. Register today to secure your spot - PLUS save €100 when you use the code XU2940BLOG.

Here are some of the companies you'll meet:
3V Transaction Services • Accent Intermedia • ACI Worldwide • Airplus International SRL • Al Fardan Exchange • ArbitorSports • Auctionata • Bankable • C24 Payments Contact Center LLC • CardOneBanking • Cardwise • Centigo AB • Contact Payment System • Coop Danmark • Dansk Supermarked A/S • Di Pocket • Edgar Dunn & Company • Emerging Payments Association • eNett International • ePayService • Epipoli SpA • EuroCommerce • First Data • FlexCard • Flex-e-Vouchers • Gap Inc • Gemalto SA • Genesys • GKFX • Global Prepaid Exchange • Globoforce • Gruppo Poste Italiane • Hobbs Limited • Home Retail Group plc • Hotel Voucher Shop • IKEA MOS • IMA • IQ Card • John Lewis Partnership • Leroy Merlin • Italia srl • Load & Go • Localz • Locke Lord • Lycamobile UK Ltd • Marks & Spencer • MBXP ApS • Mercator Advisory Group • MintCombine • MTACC Inc • MySafePay • Nordic Choice • Optimal Payments • Orwell • P&MM Ltd • Payment Card Solutions • Payoneer EU Limited • PerfectCard Ltd • PMA Media Group • Polymath Consulting • PPRO • Prego Prepaid Solutions • Prepaird International Forum • PSI-Pay Ltd • Raphaels Bank • Rapid Financial Solutions • Reward Technology • Rideau Recognition Solutions • Riverbridge Partners LLC • SafeCharge Card Services • Sears Holding Company • Signet • Simple Card • Skrill Ltd • Smart Concepts BV • Swift Prepaid Solutions Inc • TESCO Bank • Thames Card Technology LTD • The Billing Project LLC • Ticket Surf • TJX Europe • Trancash Italia • Travel Payments Amadeus IT Group • TrustEu Affairs • TrustPay • Tuxedo • WEX • Wickes Building Supplies Limited • XXImo BV • Yandex Money • Zalando SE


Event Partner
Platinum Sponsor
Supporting Sponsors
 Bronze Sponsor



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Thursday, April 30, 2015

ICICI Bank announce the release of their Tap N Pay payment technology

A recent announcement in the prepaid payment technology world was that ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank, have collaborated with Tech Mahindra Limited, to launch a contactless payment service that is based on the Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. This innovative new payment service which has been named ‘Tap n Pay’ will allow anyone, including non-ICICI Bank account holders to make over the counter purchases, reducing dependency on cash.

The customer will be able to use their NFC enabled mobile phone at the merchant’s point of sale device to make payments. The new innovation is a pre-paid account that allows customers from any bank to register for it and can transfer money online from any account. Customers are also able to top up their ‘Tap n Pay’ accounts by sending an SMS.

Tech Mahindra managing director and chief executive CP Gurnani stated that “The synergies between the two partners (ICICI Bank and Tech Mahindra) will bring about a new payments ecosystem, parallel to, and yet in harmony with, the existing payment networks in the country,".

The service is currently a closed end service and not a universal payment method. The announcement stated that at the moment the new technology is only for large campuses at corporate offices. For example being used at canteens or to buy meal coupons. To me this is advantageous using it less as a universal card but for certain purposes at the start and then maybe expanding. An issue that can come around with universal tap like payment systems can be unwittingly paying for things you didn’t want to.

This was a problem in London, England. The London Underground has a barrier system were the majority of users swipe their Oyster card which has a set amount on, to get through. However, people often kept the Oyster card in their wallet to swipe and their wallet often already had a tap payment card; this meant that money would sometimes be debited off that card whilst trying to swipe through the barriers. This became a serious problem and announcements were having to be made on the Tannoy public speaker systems to warn customers.

This announcement shows the ongoing advances being made in the prepaid payments industry that seeks to increase payment efficiency and to many, signals the lack of need for physical cash. The increase in these types of innovation, many also believe could mean a lack of dependency in banks. Banks will have to come up with innovations of their own to help keep up with the changing times.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com



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Friday, April 17, 2015

Speed & Simplicity - The Key for Social Shoppers

Omnichannel retail strategies have been much on the thoughts of retailers over the last couple of years because of an increased focus on ‘social shopping’. Omnichannel strategies aim to create a seamless consumer experience across different platforms. One of the platforms that is being utilised more often is social media. Social shopping refers to consumers who use social media spaces to share coupons, reviews, purchases and more in order to help with their own and others’ future retail experiences.

Recent apps such as Like2Buy combine the huge popularity of social media with a purchase platform. Like2Buy is now incorporated with many companies’ Instagram accounts which allows users to click on a picture that they like which will take them immediately to the brand page for purchasing. With Instagram getting more than 75 million users daily, it could be a huge source of revenue. Getting a seamless transition from picture to buying is vital. Being on a social media site also allows consumers to see the popularity of the product. Instagram allows users to like pictures and seeing that a product is popular will go a long way for persuading a customer to buy.

This quick link between picture and purchase shows the drive to create faster links and an easier experience for consumers. Social shoppers are notoriously impatient; slow websites and longwinded routes to purchase often means a higher probability that the customer will click off site and may in the future go elsewhere.


A survey carried out by Compuware showed that social media shoppers are influenced greatly by the speed and efficiency of online retail platforms. Around a third of survey participants expect a retail website to load in two seconds when using tablets, 24% expected loading in one second and 13% expect loading in less than a second. Obviously there is quite a large dependency on how good of a signal there is but it also shows the fickle nature of social shoppers. These statistics show how important navigation of an online retail platform is. Allowing users to move easily and quickly throughout different areas of a site can go a long way to retail customers. 46% of customers are more likely to go to a competitor’s website if they have a bad experience on a website.

Catering to the needs of social shoppers and boosting omnichannel retail strategies could really help to boost retail sales. The majority of social shoppers are millennials between aged 18-24; this generation of consumers have grown up with the internet and expect more now from online retail. With the wealth of information available, online retailers should use this to their advantage and put social shopping as a priority for the future of their omnichannel retail strategies.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com



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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Last Chance to Save for APEX Europe is Friday!



 LAST CHANCE TO SAVE ON YOUR APEX EUROPE REGISTRATION!

All Payments Expo Europe is designed for you to meet with industry peers to analyse the impacts of new technology, regulation and new players in the payments and retail landscape. By attending, you will hear new insights from leading players, best position yourself among competition and your improve business relationships with clients and partners.

Access 8+ hours of unique networking opportunities, including:

Private Executive Boardroom Sessions: Capped at 20 participants, these sessions are off-the-record and limited to senior-level executives. These are discussion driven, private discussions focused on the biggest opportunities and challenges facing the prepaid and retail sectors.

Match-Making Lunch: Looking to meet a particular type of attendee? We'll help you set up lunch dates to stimulate deal flow and collaborate with new businesses. E-mail Diana Middleton at dmiddleton@iirusa.com for more details.

Two Evening Receptions: Some of the best conversations happen after the sessions conclude. Receptions include a welcome party a Guey Marbella and a White Party at La Sala By the Sea.



Register by Friday 17 April and save €200! Use the code XU2940BLOG

I hope to see you in Marbella this May.



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Monday, April 13, 2015

Will Cashless Payments Cause Us to Spend More?


Contactless payment is widely regarded by many as the future of payments. Many believe that technology such as the Card Case app or Apple Pay will start to dominate the payments world as they are easy and fast forms of payments. In some cases you may not even need a wallet anymore.

Businesses are looking increasingly at giving customers the easiest possible experience in terms of their consumer journey. They want to make sure that at the end of the journey the customer doesn’t have to struggle to part with their hard earned money by waiting in long queues or wondering which credit card has the most on. Many believe it is in the best interests of the customer to be able to swipe something quickly and walk out with your new purchase. However, as easy and convenient as it is, could it mean increased spending for us on a day to day basis?

New research has shown that many people, especially the millennial generation, find that paying with cash is an easier way to not spend as much money. Personally, as someone who is fresh out of University, with student debts and an apartment in a foreign country, I am trying very hard to make every dollar count. This means taking out a certain amount of money in cash at the start of each week and saying to myself, I will spend this much and no more. It is a very simple budgeting technique used by many; however contactless payment threatens it. Waving a phone over a scanner or quickly swiping a card, to me and I’m sure to many others, does not really feel like you are parting with money as it does with cash.

More convenient payment systems will mean even if you have no cash, a consumer will simply spend little bits here and there, especially with credit. Obviously internet statements are a good way of keeping track every now and again but that will not stop when you want that desert at a restaurant instead of having a cash limit.

So much of the excitement surrounding the rise of contactless payments is focused on how much it is for the customer without looking so closely about the benefits for businesses. An interesting development for me would be a form of inbuilt budgeting system within the app or form of payment. As contactless payment develops, as does the internet of things, meaning more interconnection. This could mean a weekly budget for those millennials trying hard to make the pennies count that is on a payment app which is connected to a calendar which may warn of upcoming events that could stop you getting that pair of jeans that may not strictly be necessary. In a world where businesses need to increasingly think about the consumer’s experience, helping them with little things like that could ultimately mean the difference between gaining or losing a customer.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com



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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Big Data and Omnichannel Retail Analytics

Big data analytics are revolutionizing the shopping experience and the way retail organizations engage their customers. With the array of shopping channels available to the modern consumer - including in-store, online, mobile and membership platforms – retail organizations generate and have access to a wealth of underutilized data. By leveraging open source big data technologies, retailers can turn this data into actionable insights on buying behavior and customer 360 view.

The legacy relational database – long the enterprise workhorse for storing and processing data – is being challenged by an explosion of data generated by internet, mobile and cloud applications. Not only is more data being generated, it is being generated by more sources - social, geo, sensor, machine, network (The Internet of Things), to name a few.

Open source big data tools such as Hadoop and NoSQL enable businesses to become more agile and create value from their data by being able to process, store and analyze large volumes of data from disparate sources. Legacy systems were not designed to handle fast-growing volumes of structured, unstructured and semi-structured data in a cost effective manner. With its parallel processing and cost effective scalability, Hadoop provides businesses with greater flexibility on how they can use data.

The journey to becoming an agile business leveraging big data analytics for greater customer insights is filled with many challenges. Ankur Gupta, Sr. Director of Big Data at Sears Holdings Corporation, shares insights into overcoming these challenges at All Payments Expo Europe this May. In addition to sharing lessons learned, Ankur will discuss several key big data analytics use cases that are essential for a successful omnichannel retail strategy.


Smart Network Analytics for In-Store Customer Insights
Hadoop can be used to store, extract and transform data from network devices (IoT) for use by various business users to generate value for the organization. The ability to perform analytics and continuous reporting on this network data in-house is a big cost saver and delivers added business intelligence capabilities, such gaining insight into customer mobile device usage within guest networks.

Fraud Detection for Loyalty Rewards Program
Using big data tools, organizations can develop an intelligent system that learns from customer online behavior to determine if the customer could be a fraudulent user. By applying machine learning techniques on sets of historical data that have already been defined as legitimate or fraudulent, the system “learns” as the user generates new data. Using parameters of fraudulent use, the system determines if the data is legitimate or if the user is tampering with the data to “game the system” to earn points.

Sentiment Analysis using Social Media Data
Using Hadoop, marketers can gain insight to the perception of their products and brands, such as hashtags used, number of mentions, time of day people are mentioning, tone or any other statistic the business user is looking to discover. Furthermore, marketers can gain unparalleled insight into sentiment about the quality and services of their products; whether those sentiments are positive, negative or neutral. Social media analytics allows business users to see the detail of the overall view of what is being discussed about their product or brand, or those of their competitors.

While there are proprietary tools in the market that give businesses similar analytics capabilities, these tools typically carry a hefty price tag and lack the scalability and flexibility of open source tools. Data is growing and changing faster than ever. By leveraging open source platforms, businesses can build analytics solutions that can easily scale with their data, are flexible to meet new business requirements and avoid vendor lock-in to reduce long term costs.

Ankur Gupta
About the Speaker
As a Senior Director of Big Data at Sears Holdings Corporation and GM of MetaScale, a subsidiary of Sears, Ankur spearheads a team that has expertise in building, deploying and managing enterprise-scale big data platforms for a variety of customer analytics initiatives. An Engineer from Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and MBA from Duke University, Ankur uses his knowledge and skills to manage big data projects for organizations focused on seamlessly connecting digital and physical customer experiences.


Your customers expect a modern shopping experience…are you equipped with the tools and technology needed to provide one? Join Ankur Gupta for his Big Data and Omnichannel Retail Analytics Keynote Address at All Payments Expo Europe. Be sure to register by Friday 17 April to save €200! Just use the code XU2940BLOG.



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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

See Who's Attending APEX Europe

All Payments Expo Europe, the most relevant B2B payments and retail gathering in Europe, is shaping up to be the most relevant international community for prepaid, technology and merchants. This is where executives will hear all-new, peer-led case studies and insights AND get access to brand new consumer research.

Attracting attendees from 25+ countries, APEX Europe is where retail, mobile, data and technology intersect to grow connected commerce over the course of 3 days, 8+ hours of devoted networking and private, off-the-record sessions.

Here’s a sample of who you’ll get to meet while in Marbella:
3V Transaction Services • Airplus International SRL • Al Fardan Exchange • Alma D • ArbitorSports • Auctionata • Bankable • CardOneBanking • Cardwise • Carta Financial Services Ltd • Centigo AB • Coop Danmark • Dansk Supermarked A/S • Edgar Dunn & Company • eNett International • ePayService • Epipoli SpA • EuroCommerce • First Data • Flex e-card • FlexCard • Flex-e-Vouchers • Gap Inc •     Gemalto SA • Genesys • GKFX • Globoforce • Gruppo Poste Italiane • Gx • Hobbs Limited • Home Retail Group • Hotel Voucher Shop • IMA • Iqcard LLC •  John Lewis Partnership • Limonetik • Load & Go • Localz •Locke Lord • Marks & Spencer • Mercator Advisory Group •        MintCombine • MTACC Inc • Nordic Choice • Optimal Payments • Orwell • Payment Card Solutions • Payoneer EU Limited • PerfectCard • PMA Media Group • Polymath Consulting • PPRO • PSI-Pay Ltd • Raphaels Bank • Rapid Financial Solutions • Rideau Recognition Solutions • Riverbridge Partners LLC • Sears Holdings Corporation •Signet • Smart Concepts BV • TESCO Bank • Thames Card Technology Ltd • The Billing Project LLC • Ticket Surf • TJX Europe • TrustEu Affairs • TrustPay a s • Tuxedo Money Solutions • WEX Europe Ltd. • Yandex Money •Zalando SE


To join these peers and potential partners, sign up here. Register by 17 April to save up to €200! Use the code XU2940BLOG to save.

I look forward to seeing you in Marbella this coming May.



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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Are Chipotle Leading the Way with Retail Incentives?

Gifting incentives in the retail industry are fast becoming standard practice throughout different brands and retailers. Loyal customers are rewarded for their allegiance to the brand with incentives such as ‘buy 9 and get the tenth free’. In hindsight when the free purchase is reached, it is just a 10% discount for each purchase and for me a scheme like that won’t make me desperate to get to my 10th purchase. So then what really can be deemed as a real incentive for the customer? Chipotle reward their customers in a completely different manner to most.

Chipotle as a brand are known for their powerful marketing campaigns that reach out to consumers in order to educate the customer on issues in farming. Chipotle’s ethos and values were imprinted in their adverts that drew attention to farm animals being injected with hormones and unethical, inhumane farming practices that are cruel to the animals. Chipotle want to educate their customers and enlighten them to these issues and thus reward them for their learning.

At first I was skeptical. My first thought was how can a customer prove they have learnt about the issues whilst trying to get their reward? However, Chipotle have ways of letting customers show they are engaging with their values. For example recently they had a promotion that let customers purchase a tofu burrito and that would allow them to use the receipt of purchase for a free purchase at a later stage. This helps push Chipotle’s belief that tofu can be as good as pork, chicken or beef. Another huge reward scheme is their interactive Scarecrow game.

Photo Credit: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock
Chipotle started their education through their advertising campaigns which included slogans such as ‘‘we’re anti-antibiotics (but pro-chicken)’, but then shortly after took the world by storm with short videos such as ‘Back to the Start’ and ‘Scarecrow’. Scarecrow comes with a game that encourages sustainable farming and gaining points in it wins the player Chipotle products. By gaining points shows customers engaging with the Chipotle values embedded in the game regarding unsustainable farming issues. Another game scheme they have is ‘Farm Team’ that again teaches customers where Chipotle’s produce comes from and educates them on sustainable farming.

In the near future will other companies use a different approach in rewarding their customers that goes against the usual rewards, such as getting a thousand subpoints and get a free subway? Ultimately will educating consumers be more of an incentive than buying a certain number of products and getting a free one at the end?

Personally I think the majority of consumers will prefer to feel that they may be helping a bigger issue. I believe major brands could incorporate educational retail rewards and incentives into schemes they may have already. I believe promoting sustainable practices could boost customer loyalty in many fields. Clothes outlets could promote issues such as sweatshop labour and coffee shops could help to promote fair trade coffee. I think incentives through rewards are a very clever ploy and should be incorporated more in the retail world.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com



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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bitcoin - A Comprehensive Analysis

With so much attention surrounding the cryptocurrency, many people may be aware of the bitcoin revolution as it took hold of the Internet a few years ago. However, while they may have heard about how it spread and took hold, many are still not aware of how it works and what purpose it serves online.

To learn more about the bitcoin, refer to the infographic below created by Stetson University's Online Master of Accounting Degree (Click to enlarge):

 
Stetson University Online Master of Accountancy Program



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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

United Kingdom Take a Step Forward in Regulation of Digital Currencies

Digital currencies are beginning to rise quickly in popularity with consumers increasingly looking into digital currency as a means of payment. The UK government, in their most recent budget report have announced their plans to support innovation in the nascent technology, whilst taking steps to prevent criminal use. Similar to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), who recently proposed rules to help the development of the prepaid industry, the UK government are seeking to create an environment that will allow digital currencies to flourish whilst making it ‘a hostile environment for illicit users of digital currencies’.

At the beginning of March, cash was overthrown as the leading method of payment in the UK. More transactions were made digitally by credit, debit, or via other cashless methods than paying with cash. Predictions in 2023 show that digital transactions will have risen to a staggering 27 billion per year with cash being around 13 billion. With digital set to continue to be the leader in payments, the UK Treasury have seen the need for new regulation.

The main aim, just like with the CFPB’s new proposed rules, look closely at consumer protection as digital currencies in the past have been linked with many criminal activities. The bitcoin especially has been under a lot of scrutiny for its popular usage on the website Silk Road which was a marketplace for drugs, arms and other underground business. What many seem not to know is that bitcoins are not in fact anonymous; they can be tracked through the pseudonyms created by users to see every transaction ever made.

This budget announcement came soon after the Bank of England declared moves to undertake research into central bank issued digital currencies. Digital currencies have been pinpointed by the UK government as something with great potential but need a set of standards and best practices in order to decrease the volatility of prices in currencies such as bitcoins and to protect digital transactions that previously have not been particularly secure.

The UK’s move to embrace digital currencies shows that increased usage is expected in the future. The necessary regulation should allow consumers to feel more comfortable in becoming more reliant on digital transactions. Standardising digital currencies could help to adapt bitcoin and other virtual currency values for recording and transfers to help promote mainstream adoption.

It will be interesting to see whether other countries follow suit and devote more research into the support of digital currencies. However like with the CFPB’s proposed rules regarding prepaid payments, the standardising and regulation of digital currencies could mean a potential stifling in development and innovation within the industry that could limit longevity due to new innovations arising in the future.  

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com  



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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

APEX Europe Announces Its Newest Retail Keynote


Announcing APEX Europe's Newest Keynote:

Ankur Gupta
Ankur Gupta, Director - Big Data, Sears Holdings Corporation

Retail organizations of all sizes have a wealth of untapped data.

Big Data Analytics have revolutionized the shopping experience and the way retail organizations engage their customers. At APEX Europe, you'll learn what big data technologies can reveal on customers and shopping behavior.

By applying these big data tools and techniques, retailers can turn this data into actionable insights for buying behavior and a Customer 360 view. Your customers expect a modern shopping experience...are you equipped with the tools needed to provide one?

Ankur Gupta is just the latest speaker in an all-star line-up of executive speakers, with prepaid, retail and technology speakers hailing from 25+ countries.

Register by this Friday, 20th March to hear Ankur's presentation and lock in the lowest possible price - tickets go up on 21st March - Save €300 now!



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Monday, March 16, 2015

Will new prepaid payments rules improve or hinder the development of the prepaid industry?

Prepaid cards are growing in popularity in today’s payments world with consumers becoming increasingly reliant on prepaid products in order to purchase goods and access funds. Director Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) predicted a total dollar value of general purpose reloadable cards to grow to around $100 billion by the end of 2014. The CFPB decided in 2014 that there needed to better rules in order to help to protect users in a way that is more similar to the security that comes from a credit or debit card.

Towards the end of 2014, the CFPB proposed new rules for prepaid accounts that will create amendments to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and Truth in Lending Act. The rules fall under 4 main categories:

  1. Credit Protections – relates to credit products in prepaid accounts. Now means monthly billing statements, allowance of time to pay debts, late fees and limitations on fee and interest charges.
  2. Prepaid Protections – allow prepaid users to have the same protection as they would receive with a normal checking account. This includes easy access to account information and lost-card and fraud protection.
  3. Prepaid/Credit Distinction – rules to be implemented in order to distinguish between credit products and prepaid accounts.
  4. Prepaid Fee Disclosures – rules in order to standardise upfront disclosures and that card agreements must be publicly accessible. 

The rules will exclude cards that are marketed and labeled as gift cards or certificates. Also excluded are flexible spending accounts, medical savings account, health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts.

So are these rules going to be advantageous in the prepaid payments world? The general consensus is yes; much of the 870 page proposal is widely considered to be reasonable. The rule allows credit to be offered and will mean a decline in hostility from regulators in regard to the prepaid industry providing credit, so a measure of regulatory consistency has now been provided. Providers are now allowing check writing and bill paying to help persuade cardholders to use prepaid payments as their primary banking platform.

However the issue that has been raised by many in the industry is that the rules will stifle any future innovations into digital wallets, person-to-person payment systems and cryptocurrency products. The CFPB, some believe simply have too much power and so rulings like these tend to go unopposed. The Bureau has the power to break businesses due to its huge influence. The industry tends to accept new rules and regulations in the fear that if they say no there could be negative repercussions.

To me, looking in from the outside of the industry, it looks as if the rules will be advantageous to the ever-growing industry at present. Providing security and the ability to pay debts, limiting interest charges amongst other plus points will continue to increase the popularity of prepaid payments. However stifling the potential for development and innovation may in the long run mean a limit to longevity if another disruptive innovation within the payments world comes along.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com



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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Digital Transactions Surpass Cash in UK

This past weekend saw the end of cash leading as the most popular payment method in the UK. On Sunday March 8th, more transactions were made via credit, debit and other cashless methods than that of cash.

The Payments Council had predicted that this switch would occur in the UK in 2015.

See the figures in the article from The Telegraph, one shows the total value of cash vs. credit transactions from 2014 and the credit transactions out valued cash at a rate of 250:1. This is due to the fact that large corporations who deal with high-value transactions rarely touch cash.

The figures also continue to show the decreasing average payment on a credit or debit card, the rise of contactless payments, and the decrease of average cash transactions over the last few years. These are telltale signs that cash is losing its grip on consumers and is being replaced by digital transactions.

It is suggested that by 2023, cash transactions will fall to just 13 billion and the cashless alternative will grow to a staggering 27 billion. 


The direction of the payments industry is hard to deny, as years pass cash will begin to become an obsolete payment method that is rarely used by the everyday consumer. As new technology continues to emerge, cash slips a little further from relevance.


How long will it be until cash is no longer carried by the everyday consumer? Only time will tell but right now it seems as if it is sooner rather than later.



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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Top 5 Reasons You Can't Miss APEX Europe

At APEX Europe, you'll join an international community and get in-person insights, valuable face time with peers and partners and access to consumer research and case studies you won't hear anywhere else. This is where 250+ payments, retail and technology executives are convening to build the next generation of inter-connected commerce.

With a focus on consumer experience and intra-industry collaborations, All Payments Expo Europe is the most relevant gathering of Europe's payments players, including retailers, programme managers, card networks, processors, issuers/acquirers, financial institutions, payments start-ups, technology and investors.

The Top 5 Reasons You Can't Miss APEX Europe:

  1. The only European payment & financial services event where retail, mobile, data and technology intersect to grow connected commerce
  2. Partner with 250+ movers and shakers in the prepaid, retail & technology industries
  3. Sharpen Your Strategies with insights from industry leaders
  4. Design your company's solutions to challenges in regulation, consumer awareness and interoperability
  5. Uncover new ways for payments technology to acquire new customers, deepen loyalty, leverage data and improve the financial health of consumers
Download the programme.

Register with the code XU2940BLOG by 20 March & save €300!



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Friday, February 27, 2015

Mark your calendars for APEX Europe | Brochure now available!


APEX Europe is the international meeting place for prepaid, technology and retail executives to grow business and identify consumer needs.

Access Insights: Hear next generation consumer needs - and gain a better understanding of how to position your company to capture new business.

Merchants:
Participating retailers include: Home Retail Group, Zalando SE, Coop Danmark, Dansk Supermarked, M&S, Tesco Bank, John Lewis, Nordic Choice, Auctionata and more
Hear from other merchants on the new path to purchase:
  • How omni and multi channel strategies are impacting every customer touch point, from in-store payments to gift cards
  • How mobile can tangibly improve customer engagement and drive bigger conversions and increase in-store visits
  • How mobile can tangibly improve customer engagement and drive bigger conversions and increase in-store visits
  • How digital gift cards are transforming brick-and-mortar institutions' strategies
  • The impact of ApplePay and digital wallets on retail marketing and couponing
  • The implications of new in-store technologies, including iBeacon and geolocation
  • How e-commerce executives are anticipating customers' evolving needs across Europe     
   
Prepaid:
Participating programme managers include: Bankable, IQcard, Tuxedo Money Solutions, Perfect Incentive, 3V, WEX, Payment Card Solutions (UK) Ltd., eNett International and more
Hear from industry stakeholders on new consumer needs:
  • New innovations in grants administration
  • Prepaid's evolving role in gaming
  • The rise of new use cases, including social media payments, prepaid for the affluent and alternative banking platforms
  • The latest developments in corporate payments, and how to identify new opportunities
  • The implications of the latest regulations, and the impact on product development
  • The latest consumer-centric links between prepaid and loyalty
  • What's blocking global issuing?
  • Partnership opportunities with new players, from cryptocurrency to P2P technologies     


Join attendees from across Europe to meet, partner and devise powerful new partnerships. Use the code XU2940BLOG to save. Register now to lock in the lowest rates.

We look forward to meeting you in Marbella, Spain in May this year!   



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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Live at APEX | The Benefit of Linking Bitcoin Implementation to the Existing Payments Structure

Live at Apex: The Benefit of Linking Bitcoin Implementation to the Existing Payments Structure


Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the “Live at APEX” series on the official All Payments Expo Blog. The final session at this year’s conference addressed the benefits of linking bitcoin implementation to the existing payments structure. It focused on the market opportunities for Bitcoin in the under-served and financial wellness categories. I would like to thank our panel, Ed Boyle (Blade), Steve Beauregard (GoCoin), Cathy Corby Iannuzzelli (Corby & Company), and our moderator, Tim Sloane (Mercator Advisory Group) for joining us today. It has been an amazing 3 days and I hope you, the reader, enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing.

Financial services are costliest for the poorest individuals. In fact, “[t]he average underbanked household has an annual income of only $25,500, yet spends 10 percent of that on fees and interest charged by the alternative financial service sector.” To make matters worse, the number of banks in the U.S. reached its lowest total since 1934, in 2013 and this number is continuing to decrease. Rural areas have been hit particularly hard by these bank closures and considering that 85 percent of the poorest counties in the U.S. are rural, the closures disproportionately affect low-income households.

Nearly all non-debt financial services require an initial “cash-in” in order to use the services. Many banks require a minimum balance to open and maintain a checking account, and failure to do so results in a penalty, thereby making opening and maintaining a bank account prohibitively expensive for low-income households. This forces these individuals to turn to alternative financial services, many of which charge “an arm and a leg” to use their services. The question is whether Bitcoin can provide the unbanked and underbanked with improved access to financial services. The answer is YES!

As previously discussed in, “Live at APEX: Digitizing of Money Movement, Remittance, and P2P,” Bitcoin is radically changing the remittance and P2P industries. This is because Bitcoin’s cost structure fits very well within these industries. For example, traditional remittance companies charge 8-12% per transaction, whereas a Bitcoin transaction does not require a fee. It should be noted that to incentivize the Bitcoin network to expedite the transaction, there is generally about a 4¢ fee. Nonetheless, this cost savings is large enough to radically change the remittance industry.

Moreover, unlike banks that require minimum balances, there is no minimum Bitcoin balance requirement. In fact, the smallest amount a person can have is 0.00000001 BTC, called a Satoshi, or approximately 0.00025 of a penny. Because a single bitcoin can be broken down into such small amounts, it can be used to conduct transactions in U.S. dollars, as well as in Tanzanian shilings. This has important implications for remittances and P2P payments because anyone can send value to anywhere in the world, without having to rely on a third party intermediary.

Cross-border transactions can require up to seven intermediaries before they are completed; Bitcoin requires zero. Not only do these intermediaries add to the cost that is borne by customers, but the process is also very time-consuming. This is a reason why companies such as Money Gram and Western Union are able to charge such high fees for remittances; they speed up the process. Their services are still slower, more expensive, and generally less convenient than Bitcoin. They do however solve the “last mile problem,” which is something that Bitcoin has not yet solved. While it is easy to send and receive Bitcoin, only a small number of merchants accept it and it may be difficult to convert into fiat currency, but this is changing.

More than $100 million in venture capital was invested in Bitcoin companies this past year. Companies, such as Ripple Labs and Circle Financial are designing solutions to solve the last mile problem. There has also been significant investment in Bitcoin ATM companies to make it easier to obtain bitcoin (find one near you). Plenty of other areas along the supply chain have also been invested in and are currently being worked on.

Although we are not there yet, by linking Bitcoin implementation to the existing payments structure and decreasing costs, the lives of hundreds of millions of unbanked and underbanked individuals around the world will be improved by giving them access to inexpensive financial services. It does not however end with remittances and P2P payments. E-mail was the first application of the Internet and services such as Netflix were previously inconceivable. A digital currency is only the first application of Bitcoin. The next one is just waiting to be conceived.


Matt Gertler is the Head of Strategy at the Digital Currency Council (“DCC”) and is pursuing his JD/MBA at USC. He is experienced in FinTech, having worked for Venmo, Braintree Payment Solutions, and Earnest before joining the DCC.



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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Live at APEX | Exploring the Right Bitcoin Applications for Retailers



Live at Apex: Exploring the Right Bitcoin Application for Retailers


 Welcome back to the official All Payments Expo Blog. We just wrapped up the “Omnichannel Forum: Exploring the Right Bitcoin Application for Retailers.” The forum addressed how technological innovation will change the face of retail by considering the latest experiments in point-of-sale (“POS”), loyalty, and gift card applications. I would like to thank our panel, Brad Chun (TechCaf√©), Judd Bagley (Overstock.com), and Sony Singh (Bitpay), and our moderator, Steve Beauregard (GoCoin) for joining us today.

POS transactions are going to undergo a massive overhaul in the coming years. Beginning in October 2015, merchants that do not switch to the Europay-MasterCard-Visa (EMV) chip standard will be liable for any resulting credit fraud. This is coinciding with a switch from Windows XP based systems to cloud based POS solutions. A significant benefit of storing the system on the cloud is that it is much easier to change or add more functionality. For example, if the system is stored in the cloud, merchants can begin accepting Bitcoin almost immediately. Such a change previously would have required getting new hardware if not completely replacing the old system.

But why would a retailer want to accept bitcoin? Traditional payment processors charge 2-3% whereas bitcoin merchant service providers provide this service for 1%. This does not take into account credit fraud, which increases the 2-3% cost to merchants. Bitcoin is also fully secure, so there is no concern for many credit frauds, such as charge backs. Additionally, Bagley shared statistics from Overstock, showing that the average Bitcoin transaction is three-times greater than the average USD transaction. He suggested that Overstock’s most loyal customers are those that pay in Bitcoin.

Once the EMV standard is implemented, the new POS systems will be NFC-enabled. This will allow retailers to accept mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet. When you consider beaconing and push notifications alongside these new payment methods, retailers can interact with customers in new ways. Communication does not end when customers leave the store, but may be triggered when they or near it, or even at home when watching a retailer’s commercial. While the last idea might only be an idea currently, it is not a stretch of the imagination that future generation televisions will have the capability to share this information.

Bill Ready (PayPal) explains the importance of mobile in the retail space is that consumers are looking to fill spare moments throughout the day with their mobile devices. He says that “if a retailer can get an app on a consumer’s phone, [it has a] tremendous opportunity to interact with that consumer,” regardless of the customer’s location. This allows retailers to create contextualized experiences tailored to individual customers. Presumably this will increase sales. Considering that both Apple Pay and Google Wallet still rely on the credit card networks, and still suffer with the same 2-3% processing fee, the question remains of how Bitcoin can be implemented alongside a mobile strategy.

We are probably still a few years away. Ideally, customers would be able to link a debit or credit card to a Bitcoin wallet and behind the scenes have the payment processor convert the USD into Bitcoin seamlessly. While we are not quite there yet, Xapo has created a Bitcoin debit card that may solve this problem. However, it is currently in beta testing and not available in the U.S. or India. A solution that is available in the U.S. is provided by one of our sponsors, Gyft. Gyft purchases gift cards as a wholesaler and resells them to its customers. While they can pay by credit card or Bitcoin, customers are encouraged to pay by Bitcoin by being offered an extra 3% in reward points because there are no transaction fees. A Forbes article explains how this method was vital in the author only paying in Bitcoin for a week.
 
Matt Gertler is the Head of Strategy at the Digital Currency Council (“DCC”) and is pursuing his JD/MBA at USC. He is experienced in FinTech, having worked for Venmo, Braintree Payment Solutions, and Earnest before joining the DCC. If you have any questions, please tweet @magertler using, #APEXLV15, and they may be included in a future post.



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