It was bound to happen once the first online purchase was made. It probably wasn’t Amazon, but they definitely ushered in a new digital era of online commerce. It only makes sense that we are beginning to use a digital “wallet” for purchases in real life. Some big retailers are starting to get on the bandwagon with one of the “bigger” digital wallet services, Google Wallet. However, not a lot of older phones have the capabilities to make real time purchases using Google Wallet’s technology. However, as people upgrade their phones (as they are known to do) this service can perhaps expand out and have more people using it. Yet another service that Google will dominate. (Seriously, when will THIS happen?)
In the meantime, what are some of the alternatives to Wallet? One emerging service is from a company called LevelUp. It seems like a pretty awesome service, where you link your card to a LevelUp account, and when a retailer uses that service, they scan a QR code on your phone, completing the transaction. It’s a pretty nifty service, only it seems as if not too many retailers are getting on board with it. LevelUp definitely seems like it’s really good for smaller businesses, since they don’t charge for each transaction. Also, they implement loyalty programs (such as buy 10, get 1 free), and that is the only time they actually take money from the retailer. So, they only make money once the retailers have created a brand loyal customer. That seems like a pretty solid system for small companies trying to get off the ground.
There aren’t any “major” retailers using it yet, but it can definitely reduce the transaction time at the POS, which could reduce the amount of time spent at that stage of the buying process (pretty much the wrap-up). Also, it reduces the amount of “hardware” you would need to use, such as a cash register. Instead, you have a small scanner that is just used to scan a smartphone, so it really isn’t that large. There are currently 5000+ businesses using LevelUp’s services (according to their website), and I would like to see more companies start using a service such as this, or even Square.
Square is probably a service that you have seen in use. It was developed by Twitter founder Jeff Dorsey as a new project after Twitter. It is not as “technologically” forward as LevelUp, as in it still swipes debit cards, but similarly, it gets rid of the need for things such as cash registers, which can be large and cumbersome, as well as require a bit of maintenance. Square is pretty straight forward, at least compared to Google Wallet and LevelUp. You just swipe a card that is attached to a smart device, such as a phone or tablet. It then deposits the money into whatever bank account you determined where you wanted it to go. Pretty easy.
It’s so easy, a baby could do it?
The Square app also has reports and analytics built into it (which only makes sense) which can track your bestselling items and loyalty programs. Opposed to LevelUp, there is a fee for each transaction, 2.75% of the total transaction ,or $275 per month, whichever is more. So, how many businesses are using Square? According to this website, about 40,000. And that was just at the end of 2012. They brought in around $10,000,000,000 (10 billion) in profit. Needless the say, they are definitely are leading the way for mobile payment systems. Oh yeah, there are two major companies that accept Square payments, Starbucks and now Whole Foods. They are gaining traction and are leading the way for the growth of mobile payments.
Alas, it is time this post take a bit of a change. It is time we enter the deep web.
I’ll try to keep this as short as possible, but no promises, since the deep web is something that I find incredibly interesting. If you thought the things pretty much anyone with a computer can access is bad (don’t worry, it’s just a BuzzFeed article about Reddit), then you are in a treat. How I like to imagine it, is the web that the vast majority of people use is pretty much where people “talk the talk”. Yes, bad things can arise from the internet, but a lot of the time it is someone trolling on the internet just for a reaction. The deep web is more of “walking the walk” where the actual bad things happen. You know, like hiring hit men or buying drugs to smoke, or something.
So, the deep web is where you can pretty much buy whatever you want. But, who would want to leave a paper trail? Enter BitCoins: the first all digital currency. BitCoins area very interesting by-product of the internet, since they are not really backed by anything, nobody really knows who created them (at least, who really created them), and they can be anonymously used. So, why should we pay attention to them? For one, they are gaining traction, both in their exchange rates , and in how many companies are starting to use them in their everyday business dealings.
There are several companies accepting them in Vancouver, which makes sense since it is a pretty culturally diverse city. Also, with the United States so nearby, it makes sense that they would begin to accept a currency that will not be affected by exchange rates. In fact, it really makes sense for most major cities to start accepting BitCoins, mainly so that they can reduce the amount of money lost due to exchanges. So, are BitCoins here to stay? I think they are. Or at least, some form of online currency is. It might not necessarily be BitCoins (they could be the MySpace of digital currency), but I think that we will begin to use a digital currency, mainly for the ease of it. It would be so much easier if we could buy something across the world, and it is the same price on both ends of the transaction (hopefully that makes sense). As to whether or not we will be paid in BitCoins, I highly doubt that. I don’t think that they will be popular enough to warrant companies paying out in them. Also, that would mean that governments would have to acknowledge it as a legitimate currency. Since there is no central structure behind it, that would create chaos in the economic system.
If you want to learn more about BitCoins, I would listen to this introduction.
Until next post!