Monthly Archives: June 2010

Interview with Kurt Collins, Co-founder, Enole

I interviewed Kurt Collins, Co-founder of Enole, who is working towards a world where your identity is as mobile as you are. The potential implications for payments systems is enormous.

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Replacing cash with a phone | Technology | Los Angeles Times

“I don’t have any cash on me” may no longer be a valid excuse with the arrival of credit-card readers that can be used with mobile phones.

In a potential boon to street vendors, mom-and-pop shops and those who just want to lend a few bucks to a friend, several companies have rolled out ways to use cellphones to process credit-card payments instantly.

Square, a brainchild of Twitter Inc. creator Jack Dorsey, enables anyone to accept credit cards using a tiny white attachment and software that can be downloaded to a smart phone.

“The future has arrived,” tweeted Mayer Hawthorne, a singer and songwriter who used Square to sell his CDs and merchandise while on the road.

The plastic card reader plugs into the headphone jack on an iPhone or Android-based phone and interfaces with the phone’s software, then the transaction is processed through Square’s secure servers. Apps for the Palm Pre and BlackBerry are said to be in the pipeline.

After swiping the card through the reader, the buyer signs for the transaction by using finger strokes on the touch screen, then can type in an e-mail address where a digital receipt will be sent. Square charges a fee of 15 cents and 2.75% of the transaction amount to the person processing the credit card. That would amount to 42.5 cents for a $10 purchase.

“People are tickled by signing their names with their fingers,” said Sue Moore, co-founder of Let’s Be Frank, a hot-dog vendor that sets up shop on Glendale Boulevard in Silver Lake every Thursday. The business recently began accepting credit cards for the first time using Square, and Moore said it’s simple to use.

In much the way he launched Twitter, the social-networking site that has grown to more than 100-million users, Dorsey is giving away the Square device. Anyone can sign up for an account at SquareUp.com, and the company will send the device in the mail.

A version of Square for the iPad is also available. It enables store owners to input and track inventory and handle cash transactions, replacing pricey point-of-sale cash registers and terminals.

Those features eventually will make their way into the Square’s cellphone software, Dorsey said.

via Replacing cash with a phone | Technology | Los Angeles Times.

via Replacing cash with a phone | Technology | Los Angeles Times.

Turning Consumer Loyalty Into a Cellphone Game – NYTimes.com

Loyalty cards — those little paper cards that promise a free sandwich or coffee after 10 purchases, but instead get lost or forgotten — are going mobile. And merchants are looking for ways to marry the concept to games that customers can play to earn more free items and, it is hoped, spend more money.RelatedWeb Start-Ups Offer Bargains for Users’ Data May 31, 2010Times Topic: CellphonesEnlarge This ImagePeter DaSilva for The New York TimesChecking locations of places to shop for possible reward points on the Loopt Star mobile game.Instead of collecting paper cards and fumbling through wallets at the cash register, customers are increasingly using their cellphones to track their visits and purchases, and receive rewards.Some start-ups, like CardStar and CardBank, store existing loyalty cards on cellphones with scannable barcodes. And companies including Motorola and a start-up called mFoundry are providing retailers with the technology to build cellphone loyalty cards.Loopt is one of several start-ups — including Foursquare, Shopkick and Gowalla — that are experimenting with ways to use cellphones to bridge the digital and physical worlds and turn the tasks of everyday life, like buying coffee and running errands, into a game.On Tuesday, Loopt, one of the first services to let people use cellphones to share their location with friends, is taking its concept a step further by introducing Loopt Star, a mobile game that rewards people for frequently checking in to particular places. People will compete to earn “achievements” and become “boss” of certain locations, and Gap, Burger King and Universal Music plan to use Loopt Star to reward loyal customers.

via Turning Consumer Loyalty Into a Cellphone Game – NYTimes.com.

via Turning Consumer Loyalty Into a Cellphone Game – NYTimes.com.

Give Something Back: Turning Paper Into Food |Triple Pundit

Give Something Back Business Products consistently upends my preconception that office supply companies must be boring.� If you can be remarkable and generous selling paperclips, then the sky is the limit when it comes to social business.

GSB has long been a leader in, well, giving something back to the community.� Since launching in 1991, it has given $4 million plus to charity, which accounts for over half of after-tax profits. And customers choose which community organizations receive the donations. (Check out previous coverage and an interview with the co-founder, Mike Hannigan.)

Paper = Food is GSB’s newest campaign, addressing local hunger issues.� For every case of 30% or 100% post-consumer recycled paper purchased in California, Portland, and Seattle, GSB and Boise Inc will donate $1 to a food bank in your county. �Each dollar can provide up to 7 meals at a food bank. This initiative has raised about $80,000 for food banks in less than one year.

I think this is just brilliant – it’s a triple win for the customer who gets to support the environment through recycled paper, support her community through food bank donations, and save money with GSB’s competitive prices.�

via Give Something Back: Turning Paper Into Food |Triple Pundit.

via Give Something Back: Turning Paper Into Food |Triple Pundit.

What Do You Stand For?

Consumers rule the roost when it comes to online conversations. Technology, paired with low trust in business, has created the perfect environment for consumers to broadcast their objections to business practices and programs. And communicating your well-meaning cause effort is no guarantee the chatter will always be nice. Case in point: the online backlash to KFC’s “Buckets for the Cure,” which was met with seething criticism by both consumers and seasoned cause marketers. The disconnect between the issue breast cancer and the product fried chicken was the main point of contention. As the conversation simmered, both the fast food chain and the nonprofit partner came under attack. The fact that this partnership has raised millions to-date is lost, perhaps forever, amid the perfect storm of skeptical consumers and critical chatter online. The best defense? A good offense. Engage the would-be activists early in the process to better predict what issues could arise. In fact, our research found that consumers want to be engaged in the decision-making process for your social or environmental efforts. To help influence initiatives, consumers are willing to take part in a variety of activities, including participating in a survey 70% or emailing, calling or talking with the company or an employee 32%. By providing these forums for consumers to voice their opinions, organizations will be better equipped to react to possible criticism and adjust their programs accordingly.And the benefits don’t end there. When their ideas are put to work, consumers are more likely to buy those products and services 60%, feel more loyal to the organization 54% and are more likely to recommend it to others 51%. So before you tie a ribbon on your soon-to-launch product, why not ask your consumers what they think about the cause, the nonprofit partner and the details? They’ll be eager to engage, and it may just swap a future headache for a brand halo.

via What Do You Stand For?.

via What Do You Stand For?.