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This Week in Payments 10-24-2014

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Verizon Leads Flint Mobile’s $9.4M Round As Payment Service Comes To The Web

Ingred Lundrin via CNET

Flint Mobile, a point-of-sale mobile payments solution originally built around snapping photos of your credit card instead of dongles or using other hardware to make payments, is today announcing that it has raised another $9.4 million in funding led by new, strategic investor Verizon via its Verizon Ventures arm; as well as an expansion of its service to the wider internet in a new service called Sell Online.

The Series C funding round includes follow-on investments from earlier investors Digicel, Storm Ventures and True Ventures, and also had participation from new investor Peninsula Ventures. It takes the total raised by Flint Mobile to just over $20 million.

Flint CEO Greg Goldfarb would not go into too much detail about the reasoning behind Verizon investing, but it sounds like this is more than just a pure financial interest.

Into The Breach With Secure Mobile Payments

By Bijhan Madhani via DisCo

Last Friday, President Obama signed an executive order announcing the “BuySecure Initiative” to jump-start the adoption of enhanced security measures for financial transactions and sensitive data.  The goal is for financial institutions to implement tools like “chip-and-pin,” which would secure credit, debit, and other payment cards with microchips in lieu of basic magnetic strips, and PINs (like those standard on consumer ATM cards).  While the PIN feature speaks for itself, the microchips soon to be embedded in payment cards allow for dynamic authentication of the card’s validity and account information through strong encryption.

The new executive order was announced during the ongoing National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and comes on the heels of a massive data breach at JP Morgan.  The cyber threat landscape is not pleasant, particularly in the financial sector, but we at DisCo are an optimistic bunch.  We’d like to focus on the silver lining—the proliferation of methods of mobile and online payment, in addition to the long-awaited shift to chip-and-pin, partly spurred by consumer desire for enhanced security in the face of data breaches associated with traditional means of payment.

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Illustration by Shawn Hasto

American Express and Visa Love ApplePay. Will Consumers?

By Tim Higgins and Elizabeth Dexheimer  via Bloomberg Business Week

One of the least heralded events at Apple’s Sept. 9 unveiling of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus was its primer on Apple Pay. In an eight-second video, a woman holding an iPhone next to the credit card reader at a checkout counter placed her thumb over her phone’s Home button, which doubles as a fingerprint scanner. The device binged: transaction complete. “Would you like to see it one more time,” Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook asked from the stage, “just in case you may have blinked and missed it?”

Simplicity is Apple’s pitch as it leaps into mobile payments, which Forrester Research estimates will total $31 billion this year and $90 billion in 2017. So far Square, Google, and Softcard—a wallet app backed by the three largest U.S. wireless carriers—have struggled to prove to retailers that they have a winning system. That’s been largely a chicken-and-egg problem: Both merchants and software developers have had trouble convincing consumers that loading a smartphone app is easier than whipping out a credit card. “Most people that have worked on this have started by focusing on creating a business model that was centered on their self-interest instead of focusing on the user experience,” Cook said at the iPhone launch.

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Mastercard, Zwipe team up to roll out first-ever biometric contactless payment card

Via Mobile Payments Today

MasterCard and Zwipe, a Norwegian provider of biometric authentication solutions, have partnered to launch the world’s first contactless payment card with an integrated fingerprint sensor.

A news release from the companies said that the launch follows a successful live pilot with Norway’s Sparebanken DIN, aligned to the Eika Group.

The Zwipe MasterCard payment card includes an integrated biometric sensor, as well as Zwipe technology for storing the cardholder’s biometric data. The card also contains an EMV certified secure element and MasterCard’s contactless application.

Cash Is King No More As Mobile Payments Soar

By Tom Groenfeldt via Forbes

Debit and credit transactions are taking the place of cash around the world — faster in developing countries than in North America and Europe, according to a recent report by Cap Gemini and RBS, the UK bank. Total non-cash transactions will reach 365.5 billion in 2013, growing at more than 20 percent in developing markets but only 5.6 percent in mature markets.

In some cases, developing countries will be able to leapfrog mature markets by moving directly to newer, more flexible technologies in payments, similar to their rapid adoption of wireless without the burden of wire legacy systems.

“Developing markets are establishing initiatives and upgrading infrastructure in order to boost non-cash volumes,” the report found. Mobile phones are making a huge impact and that will only increase as inexpensive smartphones proliferate.

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