The Tech News Blog

December 9, 2013

New Square Reader Offers Better Performance, Thinner Design

Square Reader

Mobile payment company Square on Monday released a new version of its mobile credit card reader that's tinier and more powerful than ever.

The all-new Square Reader is built with custom-designed parts for "better performance, easier use and an elegant, thinner design," Square said. The device is 45 percent thinner than the previous-generation reader, and the thinnest mobile card reader on the market.

"We engineered purpose-built components to create both excellent performance and beautiful design, without compromise," Jesse Dorogusker, head of hardware at Square, said in a statement.

There's a new custom magnetic readhead, which Square said is thinner and more accurate than other models. It parses redundant data from credit cards to ensure swipes are successful.

The reader is powered by the phone into which it is plugged, eliminating the need for a bulky battery. It's also now compatible with more devices than ever before. 

August 15, 2013

Facebook Testing New Mobile Payment Option

Facebook logo

Facebook is entering the mobile payment market with a new PayPal-like product. The on-the-go purchasing system would allow shoppers to input their Facebook login details to bypass the hassle of entering billing information.

Facebook confirmed the service to PCMag, saying in an email that the social network is working on "a very small test" that pre-populates mobile apps with payment information, making purchases quicker and easier.

The program's pilot partner, first reported by AllThingsD, is Thrillist-owned JackThreads, a members-only online shopping club for men, which counts much of its annual revenue from mobile purchases.

Expected to launch within the next month, the new service will go up against PayPal, but also compete against options from Google, Amazon, and more.

"We continue to have a great relationship with PayPal, and this product is simply to test how we can help our app partners provide a more simple commerce experience," Facebook Technology Communications Manager Tera Randall said in a statement. "This test does not involve moving the payment processing away from an app's current payments provider, such as PayPal."

The eBay-owned payment service isn't concerned about competition, according to a spokeswoman.

February 25, 2013

Visa, Samsung Team Up on Mobile Payments

Samsung Galaxy S III (U.S. Cellular)

Visa and Samsung today announced an alliance aimed at accelerating global mobile payments.

The deal, which combines Visa's payment expertise and Samsung's mobile technology, will allow financial institutions to use the Visa Mobile Provisioning Service to securely download payment account information to NFC-enabled Samsung devices.

Additionally, the Visa payWave applet will be loaded onto Samsung devices featuring Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, turning the smartphones into contactless payment options.

"Samsung devices enabled with Visa payment functionality will no doubt be a powerful product offering — especially in markets where paying with a mobile device is becoming commonplace," Jim McCarthy, Visa's global head of product, said in a statement. "However, the key to making mobile payments broadly available all over the world is to offer financial institutions a secure way to provision millions of smartphones with payment account information ... and that is exactly what Visa and Samsung are ready to deliver."

The two companies have worked on mobile payments before. They partnered in May 2012 for a limited-edition Galaxy S III smartphone for athletes and trialists competing in the summer's Olympic games. The specialized phones came with Visa's payWave technology for users to wave their device at the register to check out at participating London retailers.

April 30, 2012

T.G.I. Friday’s Lets Customers Pay With iPhone, Android

On your next visit to T.G.I. Friday's for dinner and drinks, you won't have to bother reaching for your wallet. Instead, you can pay your tab with your iPhone or Android device.

The restaurant chain released a new application for iPhone and Android that lets customers start a tab, keep track of their bill, and pay it right from their phone. Currently, 350 of the chain's 600 locations nationwide are now accepting the new mobile payment method. Users can download the app now from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

"This new app puts the Friday experience at guests' fingertips – whether they're looking for the closest Friday's to celebrate and indulge or if they want to pay their bar tab quickly," Ricky Richardson, chief operating officer at T.G.I. Friday's, said in a statement.

The app's payment functionality is powered by a platform called Tabbedout, which launched earlier this year at SXSW in Austin, Texas. The app automatically integrates with Friday's point of sale software, allowing customers to pay their bill without the need for additional hardware.

Paying with the app seems fairly straightforward. When a user opens a tab within the app, they are presented with a five-digit code to show their server. The serer then enters the code on the restaurant's point-of-sale system, and then the order proceeds just like usual.

February 28, 2012

PayPal Rolls Out In-Store Payment to Home Depot Locations Nationwide

PayPal POS Terminal

After a six-week test program, PayPal is rolling out an in-store payment system to Home Depots throughout the country. Within the next two weeks, almost every one of Home Depot's 2,000 U.S. locations will be equipped to accept payment through a PayPal card or a mobile phone and PIN number combination.

"The Home Depot integration is a great milestone for us, proof that we're making our vision for the future of shopping a reality, but it's only the beginning," PayPal vice president of retail and prepaid products Don Kingsborough said in a blog post. "We're going to continue re-imagining money to make it work better for our retail partners and their valued customers–stay tuned for more exciting innovations to come."

At the beginning of January, PayPal began testing the point-of-sale system at five Home Depots. On Monday, it began to roll out the platform to stores in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Florida, and the North Plains. On March 2, it will expand to West Coast cities, the greater New York area, and Boston, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. The following week, it will launch in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, Chicago, and St. Louis.

February 27, 2012

Visa Paves the Way for PayWave Mobile Payments

EMV Chip Card

Visa said Monday that it had signed partnerships that will allow consumers to make purchases via an electronic version of their Visa card that's stored in their phone, likely this year.

Visa said that it had signed a deal with Oberthur Technologies to bring its payWave technology to mobile phones, allowing consumers to pay for goods, services, and even mass transit via a phone equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. However, Visa will be required to approve individual devices for its payment app, providing an additional factor for consumers to consider when selecting a new phone.

Visa said, however, that the one of the deals it struck was with Intel, which unveiled its own smartphone chip roadmap at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday evening, local time. Intel's existing "Medfield"-based Atom smartphone platform, which Intel unveiled at the Consumer Electronic Show in January, will be in phones from Lenovo and in an offering from Orange. That doesn't necessarily mean that both phones will work with Visa, a Visa executive said. That will be up to the carrier.

"I think what they do is show Visa's global leadership in the mobile payment space, and if you look at the three announcements, the one with Intel, for example, we're going to work with them on a number of global commerce solutions," said Brad Greene, a senior business leader of strategic partnerships and business development at Visa.

December 29, 2011

Verizon Wireless to Charge $2 for One-Time Online, Phone Payments

Do you pay your Verizon cell phone bill online or by phone? You might want to look into other options, because starting Jan. 15, those methods of payment will include a $2 fee.

As reported by Droid Life, Verizon will impose a $2 "convenience fee" for one-time online and phone payments, starting next month. The move is intended to "balance the support costs" associated with those payment options, Verizon said in documentation posted by the blog.

Users can avoid the fees by signing up for Auto Pay, which makes automatic monthly payments via a major credit or debit card on the same day every month, or when your account reaches a specific dollar amount. With Verizon, the minimum payment is $15 and the max is $250.

Other ways to avoid the $2 fee include: using an electronic check, which will pull the funds directly from your bank account; paying online via your bank's bill pay site; going to a Verizon Store; using a Verizon gift, rebate, or friends and family referral card; or mailing a paper check.

Verizon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

May 27, 2011

PayPal Sues Google for Stealing Mobile Payment Secrets

PayPal has sued Google and two of its top execs, both former PayPal employees, for stealing trade secrets that helped the search company break into the multi-billion dollar mobile payments industry.

Hours after Stephanie Tilenius, Google's VP of Commerce, and Osama Bedier, VP of Payments, announced Google Wallet, a groundbreaking initiative to make mobile payments commercial, PayPal filed a 28-page lawsuit in California accusing Google and the two employees for misappropriating information and actively poaching other PayPal employees.

Tilenius joined Google in October 2009 as VP of Commerce after serving in various leadership roles at PayPal and eBay since 2001. Bedier jumped from PayPal's VP of Platform, Mobile, and New Ventures to become Google's VP of Payments in January 2010.