Archive for the ‘paypal’ tag
Death By A Thousand Cuts? Google Wallet’s Plan To Take On PayPal Leverages Chrome, Android, Google+, Gmail & More
Flying under the radar amid a flurry of announcements coming out of the Google I/O developer conference this morning, is the bigger news of how Google is stepping up its efforts to compete with online payment giants like PayPal with a revamped checkout process for the web, mobile web, within mobile applications running on Android, and more.
It’s a proposed death to PayPal by a thousand cuts, leveraging everything from Chrome to Android and even Gmail. What Google hasn’t quite worked out yet is how all this will tie together in the long run, but you can see the plan beginning to form.
#1: Google Wallet On The Web: Storing Payment Credentials In Chrome
Lets start with the browser, the de facto home for online shopping.
It’s not news that the checkout experience is broken. Shopping cart abandonment is one of the biggest pain points for today’s merchants, mainly because their websites have traditionally offered only cumbersome and tedious forms for shoppers to fill out in order to make a purchase.
As noted during today’s keynote, one of the hardest things you can do on the web is try to buy something. The process takes around 21 steps, the company explained. Of course, Google is exaggerating here a bit – billing and shipping details are usually the same, but Google counted each field (street, zip, etc.) twice.
That being said, things are even worse on mobile. Google notes that shopping cart abandonment on mobile devices is now an outrageous 97 percent. Again, that seems high (here’s the source for that figure), but the trend Google is illustrating with these slightly puffed up figures is not.
For comparison’s sake, Monetate’s data put global cart abandonment at around 82 percent as of Q4 2012. The company has been seeing increases in cart abandonment – which had been around 60 percent over the past several years – due to an increased number of shoppers doing research on mobile phones and other devices. As they reach the point of checking out on mobile, they’re now more likely to give up and move on because of the increased difficulty of the experience on mobile’s small screen, combined with retailers’ failure to roll out mobile-optimized experiences even as percentages of mobile shoppers continue to grow at record rates.
A number of startups have been attacking this challenge in various forms – mobile apps featuring universal carts, native m-commerce storefronts, mobile optimized payment flows, one-click mobile payments, in-stream payments, and more.
Chrome is already the world’s most popular browser, with more than 750 million monthly active users today, up from 450 million just a year ago. Now it will begin baking in a speedier checkout experience into its browser by syncing your billing information and other details within Chrome.
What that means is that, in the future, when you visit a website using the Chrome browser, including the Chrome mobile browser, you’ll automatically be offered up a prompt with your billing profiles. Chrome can then use autocomplete functionality to fill in information for you like your address, zip code, credit card info and more.
This functionality is being introduced via a new requestAutocomplete API, which Google describes here as “an aspiring web standard that will allow users to bypass pages of form fields with an imperative API for requesting details the browser knows.”
Says Google, this drops the checkout process from 21 steps to just 3.
Overall, it’s a worthy attempt at solving the problem with online checkout, but it still suffers from some potential obstacles to broader adoption: website owners will have to implement the functionality (the API) on their end, and unless this “aspiring” web standard becomes an “actual” web standard supported by all browsers, its impact would be limited.
This feature is still in its early days, but it’s designed to be open. Presumably, the company would still want to at least offer support for payment information retrieved from users’ Google Wallet accounts, if not actually require it. (Theoretically, payment info could just be saved directly in Chrome or any other browser without the need for a Wallet account.)
#2 Google Wallet On The Web (Um, Again): Google Wallet API
While the above describes what will first be a Chrome-only feature to start, Google Wallet has already found a way to support the web and mobile web through more traditional means.
In addition to supporting online checkout through Wallet, last fall, the company launched a Google Wallet API which allows e-commerce website owners to support checkout via Google Wallet on mobile devices. This is independent of the browser or mobile operating system however, making it more like an alternative to the PayPal button.
It’s a bit confusing because with the new Chrome autocomplete functionality, it seems there will be some overlap between the two. Site owners would end up implementing two APIs to be fully supportive of Google users: one to speed up checkout through automated form filling in Chrome (likely pulling payment credentials from a user’s Google Wallet), and another if they wanted a Google Wallet button on their site which users could click to instead be walked through the Google Wallet checkout flow.
Which is better? How will these two tie together? For now, Google can’t say, only noting that it’s still the “early days” for the Chrome autocomplete API and it’s probable that Google Wallet will be supported in some way.
But nothing is definite yet.
It’s a perfect example indicative of how Google needs to bring its separate teams together in order to tell a more cohesive story about payments. Rumor has it, the Wallet team has been too “siloed,” which has caused some issues. (See part #5 below, for example).
#3 Going Wallet On Android: Paid Apps, In-App Purchases & Now, the Google Wallet Instant Buy Android API
Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, so it only makes sense for Google to take advantage of that fact to pull in more users’ payment information. After all, today’s users are already using Google Wallet to purchase paid applications for Android devices as well as in-app purchases, so why not extend Wallet to support purchases of physical goods, too?
That’s just what Google did.
With today’s new Google Wallet Instant Buy Android API, merchants and developers selling physical goods and services (as opposed to virtual goods, like those sold in mobile games), can now offer 2-click checkout to their customers.
The service ties in also with Google+, allowing users to register and sign in to the apps, similar to Facebook Connect, and then tap to checkout without the need to enter in billing or shipping information.
#4: Google Wallet in Gmail: “Attach” Money
Another vector in the fight to topple PayPal is person-to-person payments – like paying the babysitter, or paying your dad the money you borrowed, for example. Digitally savvy folks today still largely turn to PayPal to make this happen.
Google’s plan here?
It’s simple and ingenious really. The familiar email “attachment” icon has just become another onboarding experience for Google Wallet. With the Gmail update, the service’s 425 million+ users can hover over the attachment paperclip icon, then click the $ icon in order to “attach money” to their message.
Of course, you’ll need a Google Wallet account first.
For now, the feature is only available in the desktop version of Gmail, but it will certainly come to mobile in time.
#5 Google Wallet In Real World? (What’s Plan B If NFC Never Wins?)
The only area where Google is lacking a solid strategy is in real world payments – an area where competitor PayPal has been ramping up quickly in recent months. PayPal has been working with nearly two-dozen nationwide retail chains, including Home Depot, Jamba Juice and more, to be integrated into their point-of-sale systems. It has separately announced integrations with point-of-sale and hardware makers like NCR, gas station and convenience store-focused Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s point-of-sale system, coin-counting kiosk maker Coinstar, and more.
Google has been trudging along with its NFC-based Google Wallet app – an app using technology whose broader adoption has been slow to pick up here in the U.S., in part due to a lack of support from Apple, as well as swirling questions as to how much of an improvement tapping your phone at point-of-sale really has over a card swipe in the long run.
Google had plans to launch a plastic “universal” credit card which would allow users to switch between their preferred payment methods on the fly while still using a physical card at point-of-sale. For whatever reason, the company scrapped those plans just ahead of Google I/O.
Combined, all of the above areas on their own can’t be considered a PayPal killer by any means. But as they become more tightly integrated over time (assuming Google can get its teams together to focus on the bigger picture beyond their own product’s development and focus on the global stage), you can see a viable threat to PayPal starting to shape up.
PayPal’s killing the cash register and offering free credit, debit, check, and PayPal processing to qualifying U.S. businesses that adopt its PayPal Here solution — for the rest of 2013.
In other words, PayPal is all in.
PayPal Here, a triangle to a certain competitor’s Square, offers a mobile dongle that you can attach to smartphones or tablets to take payments on the go. But it’s also now a pre-integrated solution for existing point-of-sale machines from multiple vendors such as ERPLY, Leaf, Leapset, NCR Silver, ShopKeep and Vend.
“The cash register has been a familiar sight for generations, but it’s time to replace it with a modern solution,” PayPal says.
While PayPal was late to this particular game, it has quickly added partners like Home Depot, Abercrombie & Fitch, and, after being available just in North America for some time, recently entered the UK. And the company absolutely crushes all other competitors — including Google, MasterCard, and VISA — in consumer awareness for its digital wallet services.
But the real juice in this latest program is the free payment processing for the rest of the year. That’s huge to merchants who are looking to squeeze a few extra percentage points of profit out of typically skinny retail margins. Payments processors can easily take one to three percent of a company’s gross sales, right off the top.
Merchants can also skip the cash register upgrade and simply go direct to an iPad solution with PayPal Here running as an app, in which case PayPal Here can connect wirelessly to a cash drawer and printer.
Eén van de coolste congressen in Nederland is voor mij al jarenlang The Next Web. Internet, startups, mobiel, maar ook een bijna-koning of koe op het toneel. Het kan allemaal én het is ook nog eens…
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Twestival is back!
Twestival combines social media and in-person events to raise money for charity. And it works! The first global Twestival was in 2009. Since then, Twestival has raised $1.75 million for over 285 charities around the world!
Now, in 2013, with the help of global sponsors PayPal, StayClassy, and Project 7, Twestival is poised to expand its impact. Since it started, all the local Twestival events were hosted on the same day around the globe. This year, Twestival is opening up the ability for local organizers to choose the date that’s best for them. It’s like a year round Twestival!
As a fundraising coach, what I love about Twestival is that it’s 100% volunteer. Even those of us on the global team are volunteering our time and effort to help support all the events. The mixture of passionate volunteers and effective leveraging of each of our social networks is powerful.
Dozens of Twestival events are already being organized. And Twestival founder Amanda Rose expects there to be around 300 this year.
If you’re reading this blog post, you are a perfect volunteer for your local Twestival! Check out the official Twestival map to see if one is already being organized near you. Then head over to Twestival’s “Get Involved” page to volunteer for the event.
If one isn’t near you, the “Get Involved” page has information on how to organize your own! Organizers get the support of an entire global team of veteran Twestival organizers and fundraisers to make starting one as easy as possible.
Read more about Social Media Explorer’s #GivingTuesday program.
First up is Mobile Ads for Apps. Finding a way to monetize Facebook Mobile has been a problem but this sounds like the perfect solution.
This new ad unit takes advantage of the natural connection between mobile and apps. Facebook users will see an ad with a list of suggested apps. Click through and you’re taken directly to the App Store or Google Play where you can download the app instantly.
The app dashboard allows you to target users based on region, age and gender. Set your budget and go.
Currently, the ads are only available to select partners but you can sign up to be a beta tester right here.
Today, Facebook opened up subscriptions to all app developers. The system allows the app to charge a recurring fee for in-app services. For example, Gardens of Time subscribers will receive 70 Gold points, an exclusive virtual item, expanded energy meter, bonus time crystals and an ad-free experience, all for $15 a month.
This is an excellent option that should help lift the monthly spend on virtual goods. Payments can be made by credit card or Paypal in a variety of local currencies.
I’m not a big fan of Facebook advertising, but I think both of these options are worth looking into if you’re an app developer. The mobile ad unit is such a natural and intuitive link, I simply can’t see any bad there. As for subscriptions, it’s the perfect way to balance out the monthly cash flow. For gamers, it’s a one time decision to spend instead of dozens of decisions every time they play and once they’re in, they’ll stay in as long as they keep getting the goods.
Facebook, today, I tip my hat to you. Good job.
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A designer’s eye can change the world, but some don’t know how to build a company. So today, veteran Facebook designer Ben Blumenfeld revealed to me that he’s moving on to co-direct Designer Fund, a community of angels and mentors who support designer-led startups with a positive influence. Blumenfeld’s departure follows a string of other high-level post-IPO exits from Facebook, as employees seek to apply what they’ve learned to projects where they have more control.
Blumenfeld becomes the new co-director of Designer Fund, whose sponsors include Andreessen Horowitz and 500 Startups. In a special interview he tells me how he’ll be helping designers raise money, find co-founders, learn entrepreneurship, and turn their sketches into social good.
Blumenfeld has been on a quest for purpose since he graduated in design from UCLA a decade ago. He hit a wall while designing sites for CBS TV shows like Survivor and Big Brother. Ben tells me he realized “the better I did at my job, the more people I drove to watch television. I wanted to make a meaningful impact.”
His next gig was as a design lead at Magento, a commerce platform later acquired by eBay / PayPal. That’s when he got the big call from Facebook. He knew the company had potential because the Magento interns “would not get off” the social network. But after talking to Facebook’s designers, Ben says “I had this epiphany. [Facebook's] mission was to change the way we communicate, the fundamental human need.”
He joined Facebook in early 2007 as a product designer, joining a squad of just five. Blumenfeld worked on growth and platform before becoming manager of the communications design team, confronting one of Facebook’s greatest challenges. “We were building great products, but not doing a great job of guiding people through the changes, or telling them why they were important.” Communication failures were leading to mass protests, misused features, and a sentiment among mainstream users that Facebook was too complicated and unstable.
Blumenfeld set out to make Facebook feel sympathetic to the pains of behavior change. After a stint as a manager he moved back to designing full time with the product team. His last project was critical to the future of Facebook: walking users through the switch to Timeline, Facebook’s most drastic redesign since the launch of the news feed. He succeeded. Rather than being afraid, most users flocked to it. There’s been little unrest, no major flareups from people misunderstanding their new privacy controls.
A Designer’s Destiny
After five years at Facebook, Blumenfeld had to ask himself, “It’s been amazing, but am I going to be here for five more?” He took a six month sabbatical to travel and mentor, discovering how rewarding it was to pass his knowledge on to startups. Then he was asked a critical question by his friend Enrique Allen who founded Designer Fund as an offshoot of 500 Startups and the Stanford d.School in April 2011: “How do we get more designers to become entrepreneurs?”
They realized there were meaningful opportunities education, healthcare, the environment, city planning and more, and plenty of talented designers, and that “we’d be able to make a much bigger dent in these problems if designers went at them.” But design school teachers come from the world of agencies, not entrepreneurship, so their students didn’t consider the path of starting a company.
So Blumenfeld decided to leave Facebook, join Enrique as a co-director, and show young designers the way. Together the two have assembled a community of designers and mentors from companies including YouTube, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Path, Flipboard, Pinterest, Cooper, IDEO, and Frog. Along with a16z, and 500 Startups they’ve secured financial support and more from partner firms including Khosla Ventures, North Bridge Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, KKLD, Venture51 and Quest Venture Partners.
The all-star crew has identified three missing elements that create a major roadblock to designers becoming entrepreneurs:
- Funding to strike out on their own
- Business and technical skills to build a company
- Silicon Valley connections to make that company thrive
When Blumenfeld and Allen asked designers if they’d start companies if given money, mentorship, and connection, “9 times out of 10 we’d hear a huge, emphatic ‘YES!’”
Funding What’s Right
Designer Fund aims to offer these services to their portfolio, operating like a philanthropic angel fund that’s complementary to seed funds, accelerators, later-stage VC firms. It now takes referrals and accepts applications from of designers out to create positive social change through world-scaling technology. It’s first round saw hundreds apply.
Those accepted get folded into Designer Fund’s network and hooked up with the mentors and money they need. Then it offers to make investments in a range including mentorship alone, $5,000+ non-equity grants or equity investments in exchange for .5% of a startup, and larger $50,000 to $100,000+ investments for 5% to 10% or based on existing terms.
Designer Fund is now rolling out investments every six months to companies in Silicon Valley and beyond. Meanwhile it’s hosting educational events, Designer Fair, and meetups as it watches its startups sprout. Outside mentors to its startups and successful founders who go through the program are invited to join become formal Designer Fund advisors, creating a virtuous cycle.
With Blumenfeld and Allen as its only full-time employees, the non-profit’s portfolio is already having an impact. It’s backed Neighborland, helping citizens connect and make good things happen in the community. Solar Mosaic lets people kickstart solar energy projects but see a return on their investment. Launchpad Toys is now an App Store hall of famer that educates children. And Angaza Design is bringing affordable solar energy to Africa so people have light to work and learn at night.
Some of these companies might not earn as much money as an enterprise marketing platform, but they deliver social ROI by benefitting the world. And Blumenfeld says the founders his fund backs are perfect to tackle social issues because “Design is all about empathy; about making something that works beautifully, that delights. Having it work is not good enough, it has to make things better.”
Would you fork over a small portion of your income for the next decade in exchange for funding?
The team behind Upstart, (pictured, above) a new crowdfunding platform, are willing to bet that this will be viable option for scores of recent grads and budding entrepreneurs. The startup launches today with a new model to provide grads with a modest amount of risk capital, with their future earnings as collateral.
Upstart works a bit differently than any other crowdfunding website. Unlike Kickstarter, backers can invest in people — “upstarts” — rather than in teams, projects or ideas. Upstarts can use the funding for almost anything, and in return, they pay their backers on a monthly basis for ten years, verified annually via tax returns. The interest rate is a 14.99 percent annual return.
“We started Upstart to find a way to help kids at the early stages of their career,” said Dave Girouard (pictured, below), the company’s founder and chief executive, in an interview with VentureBeat. “They can elect an entrepreneurial path rather than the treadmill than the corporate career.”
Girouard rose up the proverbial ladder in his own career. Until recently, he was the President of Google Enterprise, but left the search giant in May to form Upstart. The founding team is comprised of a handful of ex-Googlers, as well as former executives from both PayPal and Yahoo!
The Upstart process begins when recent grads create a profile page to share their experience, academic pursuits, and interests. Backers are then encouraged to provide both funding and mentorship to upstarts as they bring their business ideas to fruition. In the future, the team will incorporate a machine learning engine to match backers and upstarts.
The hope is that the extra cash will give 20-somethings a bit of breathing room, and encourage them to take professional risks, whether it’s joining a tech startup, developing an art project, or building a local business.
Repayment varies based on the ups and downs of upstart’s income, which is designed for 20-somethings with unpredictable incomes. If they are really successful, they will share a bit of the upside, but even then, repayment is capped. Upstarts won’t owe anything in years where they are earning less than $30,000, but payment is deferred.
“The payment is designed to be friendlier than a student loan and accommodate life events, even unemployment,” said Girouard. The company makes its money by taking a cut of the transaction, which isn’t dissimilar to any other crowdfunding site.
Girouard told me that Upstart recently brought on Paul Gu, a young statistician and Thiel fellow who is developing a regression model to predict income for college students. This will help the company calculate a percent of their income to share each month, once upstarts have chosen their funding amount.
Since its inception in April, Upstart has already completed its first trial. Seven students from five universities were backed by a dozen investors. Girouard told me that the majority of these upstarts were drawn from the tech world, so they are targeting students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in a concerted effort to reach more creative types.
Next month, Upstart will also be made available to graduating students at Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, University of Michigan and University of Washington.
The company has received $1.75 million in seed investment from Kleiner Perkins, NEA, and Google Ventures to brings its new model to college campuses.
Eerst bouwde hij PayPal en Tesla Motors. Nu krijgt Elon Musk een contract van 440 miljoen dollar om voor de NASA de opvolger van de Space Shuttle te bouwen.
While I can’t quite imagine what a “snug nugget” really is without descending into the scatological, but what the company does is quite interesting. This new website offers bundles of books with a retail value of about $30. They expect users to pay about that and they donate 14.3% to charity.
The current crop of books looks promising if you’re into thrillers and fantasy and hopefully they’ll continue these bundles with bigger names to draw in some more donations. All of the books are DRM free and come in Kindle, ePub, and PDF format. You check out via Paypal and Google Checkout.
The site competes directly with the yet-unlaunched StoryBundle and looks a little seat-of-its-pants in terms of design and UI. However, it’s a noble goal and it’s pretty darn important that sites like these not only succeed but thrive. Best of all? Here’s their “trailer” for the books on offer. Very exciting stuff.
Yesterday, American Express came out and said that it wasn’t associated with Google Wallet. Today, PayPal is slamming the service, saying, essentially, that Google Wallet is a lousy idea.
“In our opinion, this is just another validation of PayPal’s approach,” said Anuj Nayar, senior director, global communications. “We’ve had a cloud-based digital wallet for well over a decade that’s already regularly in use by over 113 million people. The debate about NFC has been raging for over a year now, but we’ve always had a different vision that isn’t tied to any single technology or method of payment. We don’t build products based on hope or hype; we focus on providing the best consumer and merchant experience possible both today and in the future. Payments is very complex and actually running a successful global payments business is very different from announcing one.”
Google seems to be desperately trying to make something work with NFC. It’s a backwards approach — instead of trying to figure out a consumer problem and solve it, Google seems to be taking a technology (NFC) and figure out how to shove it down consumers’ throats. The new Google Wallet product is just stupid.
That doesn’t mean Google is out of it for the long term. It’s ownership of the Android platform is a challenge for any player in the mobile payments space. But Google isn’t in nearly as strong a position as Apple. Apple has always been able to dictate the entire experience on its phones. In the United States, only Sprint has allowed Google Wallet’s NFC implementation onto phones it sells.
I sat down with the president of PayPal on Wednesday to talk about the future of mobile payments. Look for that piece on VentureBeat on Monday.
[Top image credit: Simpsoncrazy.com]