Posted tagged ‘Internet’

How Paying By Mobile Can Work

3 August 2010

AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and others are in a deal with Barclays Bank and Discover Financial Services to allow consumers to buy products and services with a “contactless” swipe of their mobile phones.

A pilot program will begin at retailers in Atlanta and three other selected cities.

I’m glad to see that this is not being done by Visa and Mastercard since those idiots do not know how to make paying-by-mobile work. If it was up to them they would be assessing fees of a dollar or more per transaction, basically killing the whole thing at the start.

Stock at the two largest credit card companies plummeted on the news while at Discover, the fourth-largest credit card processor behind Visa, MasterCard and American Express, shares jumped nearly 3 percent.

If you are a retailer you most likely have no love for Visa or MasterCard because of their constant raising of transaction fees. Congress last month passed restrictions on the fees these vultures can charge to retailers on debit transactions.

Hopefully Discover will do the right thing and charge very small fees for transactions that fall below ten dollars. How many times have we seen retailers put up notes on cash registers that tell us that they require transactions of at least ten dollars to qualify for payment by credit card? After all, who can make money selling a roll of mints for a dollar and incurring fees of more than 50 cents?

I’m not talking about percent transaction fees, usually 1 to 5 percent of the billed amount, I’m talking about the per transaction fees, minimum monthly fees, and other exhorbitant fees that merchant account providers assess. While Visa and Mastercard will gladly suck the blood out of credit card users and retailers, some merchant account providers make Vlad the Impaler look like a boy scout.

For example, some providers may charge 25 to 50 cents per transaction in addition to adding a small percentage fee of their own on top of those of the credit card issuers. Some even charge a minimum monthly transaction fee which requires that the merchant process a set amount of billing each month. These fees are around $15 each month although I have seen much higher.

If this new payment alliance wants to see pay-by-cell succeed not just in replacing the use of credit cards but in small one buck transactions as well then they have to insure that merchant account providers treat small transactions differently.

If they can do this, then we can be on our way to paying for everything with our cellphones. I mean everything: parking meters, candy machines, subway tolls.

But the real deal would be in micropayments, such as paying for reading a news article online or downloading a copyrighted work. I certainly would never pay 2 or 3 bucks a week to read an online newspaper in the UK but I would not hesitate to pay 1/20th of a penny to read a single article from the same source. It wouldn’t bother me if at the end of the month I spend ten or twenty bucks getting information I need from hundreds of sources. There are hundreds of millions of me in the world. Do the math.


Anybody Else out there Vertwittered?

15 January 2010

kids at beach

Ver·twit·ter (fuh-twitta)
1. To wear out completely with tweets, twitters, twhirls, twitter widgets, twitter tools, twitter gadgets, PocketTweets, Twellow directories, Twubble, Twittie Me, Twitdir, Twitstats, and 50,000 other twitter apps.
2. To drain one’s resources and energy by downloading 8 hours of twitter applications every day without the possibility of ever using any more than one or two of them in a lifetime.
3. To exhaust your friends, family, work associates with a constant flow of meaningless, useless, never-ending minutia of whatever you are doing every single minute of every single day.

Since its rollout in 2006, developers and websites now offer Twitter apps in the tens of thousands. Take for example Twitpic which Tech Crunch informs us is one of the top 20 Twitter apps with more that 1.2 million unique visitors in January 2009.

See the photo of the young folks at the beach? Do you know any of them? Neither do I. Do you care? Neither do I. I don’t want to see photos of people I know – why would I want to go look at random photos from people I don’t know? OK, OK, there exist twitterholics who do not have a life and this is very exciting for them, I understand. However, isn’t there an overabundance of photo websites already on the Web?

I find it unbelievable that more than 4 million twits follow Britney Spears. I don’t believe we need to waterboard any terrorists, just read Britney’s tweets to them for an hour or so and they’ll quickly drop a dime on Osama Bin Laden’s butt.

The Telephone was invented in 1876. The First APP for the telephone was the answering machine which came in 1935. The second APP, call-waiting came in 1971 along with Three-Way Calling, Call Forwarding, and Speed Calling.

A few apps over the course of a century made it easy for people to learn to use the phone and the applications at least were actually useful. I suppose if Bell had invented the phone today there would be 50,000 useless apps like: press *2543839 to listen to people who have indicated (by pressing *1088766) that they are from Miami and talking to someone from New York. Yeah, that’s right; certain phone users would pre-agree (by certain touchtones) that they don’t mind having other people listen in on the conversation. After all, what are tweets but textual phone conversations.

Don’t want to listen? There’s an APP for that – hang up.

One Mistake Rule Threatens All Our Electronic Freedoms

20 November 2009

Internet SafetyHere’s the problem: everyone over-reacts. One low-life kills a masseuse who advertised her services on Craigslist and Craigslist has to shut down an entire category of advertising [Read more CBSNews].

Yet for years when someone murdered a masseuse using the telephone and Yellow Pages, the phone company was not asked to stop taking ads for message parlors, nor did the government try to control the phone company.

Last year, a postal worker in Maryland recognized one single Operation Santa volunteer as a registered sex offender, and the Post Office summarily drops a popular national program begun in 1954 in the small Alaska town of North Pole, where volunteers open and respond to thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year [Read more CNews].

There is an element of risk to everything in life. Drowning Is the number one cause of death among children in Miami, Florida; does that mean we should close all pools, beaches, lakes and water parks? Or doesn’t it make more sense to educate the public and put in place better pool fencing in the case of pools, and to examine how the deaths occurred so as to prevent them?

A fourteen year old Texas girl and her mother sue MySpace because the young girl went out on a date with a 19 year old who, they claim, sexually assaulted her. Luckily for all of us, the suit was dismissed by a Federal Judge, but cases like this continue. This was never a MySpace problem, but a negligent mother problem.

One day, a woman will be buying a car she saw on eBay and will get murdered and the auction house will be pressured to close down that portion of its business.

When a plane crashes and people die, we do not ask that the entire airline industry stop doing business. The causes of the crash are investigated and the problem identified and improvements are made. As a consequence, airplane travel is one of the safest modes of getting from here to there in the world. That is the proper response to a problem, actually find the cause and fix it – don’t just shut it down.

The easy, knee-jerk reaction by government to anything untoward on the Internet is to try to shut it down. In September of 2006 the FBI joined the Bush administration’s War on Porn and began looking for a few good agents for a new anti-obscenity squad. The new squad was to gather evidence against ‘manufacturers and purveyors’ of pornography — not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults [Read more Planck’s Constant].

Closing down a Craigslist section does not make women safer from predators. One incident should not spell the end of our electronic freedoms.

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