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Is money becoming superfluous?

It is becoming harder by the day to keep up with the web and the mobile population it is creating at a pace.

Just as one acquires the newest and latest skills one is almost instantly out of date. The paradox however is the return the days of the wild west , the likes of Wyatt Earp and the techniques that worked then being brought into the digital age.

So here are extracts of the latest news published on the web. Indeed it would serve you well to heed some of these tales.

Swiping, waving and tapping may soon become old hat.

Just as consumers have become comfortable tapping or waving their credit cards or smart phones to pay for goods, PayPal has unveiled technology that enables consumers to pay without taking their phones out of their pockets.

As an aside, I have used that service for a long time. The greatest advantage is that my personal financial data is only in one place rather than scattered all over the web.

One week after launching new iPhone and Android apps that allow consumers to order and pay for purchases before they set foot in stores, PayPal has taken the idea of the digital wallet a step further with PayPal Beacon. “We challenged ourselves to find a better experience than swiping a credit card,” said PayPal president David Marcus. “We figured the only better way to pay would be to do nothing.”

With Beacon, consumers who have downloaded the PayPal app need only walk into a store and when they’re ready to make a transaction the funds are then transferred securely to the merchant. Using Bluetooth Low Energy, rather than wifi or GPS, the merchant’s Beacon hardware detects when a customer with the PayPal app walks within 10m of the store. At this point, the merchant can attempt to engage the consumer with special offers, discounts or details of new products to steer them into their stores. When customers take the bait, their photo will appear on the merchant’s compatible point-of-sale system. Customers only need to give verbal confirmation of the transaction for the payment to go through. Customers are then sent a paperless receipt via email and text to confirm the purchase.

The Beacon technology is PayPal’s latest attempt to replicate its large share of the online payments market in bricks and mortar stores. By offering consumers faster and more secure ways to pay and enabling retailers to communicate directly with consumers via their smart phones, PayPal hopes to challenge the dominance of credit card companies such as -MasterCard and Visa. The mobile payments market is estimated to reach $97 billion in 2017, compared to $12.8 billion last year, according to Forrester Research.

“We don’t expect cash or credit cards to go away,” PayPal Australia managing director Jeff Clementz told The Australian Financial Review. But as growing numbers of consumers use smart phones to research and pay for goods, PayPal is looking at ways to enhance the functionality of smart phone apps to improve the shopping experience.
“The idea of queuing up to pay will change,” Mr Clementz said.
The Beacon technology is bound to trigger concerns about consumer privacy and security. But Mr Clementz says consumers will have control over which retailers can register their presence, if they want to be prompted with alerts and which merchants can charge them automatically. If consumers enter a store or mall and decline to check in or ignore the prompts, no information is transmitted to PayPal or the merchant.

“It’s faster than swipe or tap and go, faster than near field communication, uses less battery power than GPS, has better accuracy and maintains privacy and security,” said Mr Clementz. “The consumer is in control.”

Beacon will not be available until 2014 but PayPal is unveiling the technology early and has invited app developers to come up with new ways to add value to the technology.

Apple is reportedly close to launching a similar technology for iPhones, dubbed iBeacon. But PayPal says its Beacon technology works on iPhone and android devices.

The Beacon device or dongle is expected to sell for less than $100, making it affordable for small merchants like, but not limited to, coffee shops and sandwich bars.

So I suggest you’d better get ready and stay abreast of this one.

My other tale comes via the BBC who, in their usual and inimitable style, researched the world of the bad guys versus the good guys on the Internet. The ones who find all these security holes in various software systems and force the endless updates we are obliged to do to protect our computers and our data. Just like in the days of the Wild West the bady always wore a black hat while the goody was resplendent in a white hat. Guess Hollywood had to do that since all films in the early days were shot in black and white and those in the audience who let their minds wander needed to tell the difference.

If you are a cowboy film fan, and I am, then you would know that to rid the west of criminals, a common method was to offer bounties. You jumped on your horse, tracked your man and once you brought him back to face justice you were rewarded. If I remember correctly the biggest bounty was always payable when the wanted notice read “dead or alive”. Today bounties are offered to those who can find security flaws in our software. They are then invited to submit their discovery and perhaps solutions to the author of the software. Companies like Microsoft, Facebook and many others offer such rewards. This means that a black hat can become a white hat and earn some serious money. Rewards ranging from a hundred dollars to $150,000 are the usual range. However larger bounties exist.

The system is based on trust. No rewards are offered until the problem and the solution is willingly brought to the respective company. There it is evaluated and the size of the bounty decide upon. The system works so we can assume that the deal is considered reconcilable by both parties. A simple way of converting bad to good which serves everybody and reduces the enormous cost malware imposes!

This world is becoming incredibly complex!

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