All posts in “Business”

Google Pay to Challenge Apple, Amazon

Google on Tuesday officially launched its long anticipated Google Pay app, which combines the features of the former Android Pay and Google Wallet into one platform, with new benefits designed to accelerate mobile payment use and retailer participation.

Google Pay to Challenge Apple, Amazon

The change, originally announced last month, represents a bid to expand the use of Google’s growing ecosystem to take on both Apple and Amazon in the e-commerce space, where the use of contactless payments systems has been on the rise.

Combining the apps will result in benefits for Google customers and developers alike, noted Gerardo Capiel, product management director for consumer payments, and Varouj Chitilian, engineering director for consumer payments, in an online post.

“We’re currently working on bringing Google Pay to all Google products, so whether you’re shopping on Chrome or with your Assistant, you’ll have a consistent checkout experience using the cards you’ve saved to your Google account,” they wrote.

Feature Fresh

The new Google Pay home tab will include information on recent purchases, display nearby stores that accept the app, have information about rewards and offer tips on how to use. A cards tap keeps track of your credit and debit cards, loyalty cards, discount offers and even gift cards.


Google Pay

Click Image to Enlarge


Google Pay currently is accepted on various transit systems around the world, including in Kiev and London, as well as in Portland, Oregon, and it will expand to additional cities.

Popular Android Pay features such as extra security, bank perks and protection are also available in Google Pay.

Instead of having to fill out forms that require financial information, customers can just choose Google Pay and check out with a few clicks at the register. Also, customers in the U.S. and UK will be able to send and receive money, starting in a few months.

The Wallet app is now called “Google Pay Send.”

A major reason for combining the apps’ functionality in Google Pay is to expand the consumer perception beyond the mobile device. Google plans to expand e-commerce transactions to Google Home and other devices to compete with Amazon Echo, which owns the lucrative new voice-activated shopping space.

“They’re changing the name because Android is specific to mobile devices,” said Chad Lowman, director of project management at Cayan.

“There’s all kinds of opportunity to use the wallet in other platforms, such as e-commerce,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Google last year announced a program with TriMet, the public transit system in Portland, to create the Hop FastPass — the first virtual transit card to be available on Android Pay. The beta test involved TriMet, C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar users who were able to tap their phones to pay for commuter trips.

In test runs so far, Google Pay not only has helped consumers skip long lines at local retailers for transit cards, but also made it easier to buy tickets and board local commuter lines, helping the transit providers reduce the amount of cash they have to process.

“There’s definitely some back-end benefits,” said TriMet spokesperson Roberta Altstadt.

Security Swipe

Mobile payment apps have been catching on with some consumers.

The more she uses Apple Pay at retailers, the more she prefers it to traditional credit and debit card use, said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner with RSR Research.

“I really prefer exposing my debit card to as few retailers as possible — and it’s easy,” she told the E-Commerce Times. “I remain somewhat befuddled at the need to scribble my name on a receipt after I’ve activated the payment with a fingerprint, but it’s apparently a contractual obligation.”

One of the arguments for using payment apps is that consumers do not have to enter their payment information at the checkout counter.

However, contactless apps are not completely foolproof, cautioned Andrew Howard, chief security officer at Kudelski Security.

As with any digital tool, “attacks against digital payment methods are possible, and there have been attacks in the past,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Apple Pay was vulnerable to attack, either by infecting a jailbroken device with malware or by intercepting or manipulating SSL transaction traffic, Positive Technologies demonstrated las summer.

Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.


David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

Broken Corporate Processes Degrade Customer Experience: Survey

Broken corporate processes have been contributing to negative customer experiences, a recent survey suggests.

One thousand employees in United States companies with a workforce of 500 or more who work on a computer or mobile device for more than five hours a day responded to the online survey conducted by Nintex.

Overall, 54 percent observed broken administrative processes within their organization, and 39 percent saw broken document management or sales processes.

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Top broken administrative processes:

  • Identifying and recommending problem fixes at the company level (37 percent);
  • Identifying and recommending problem fixes at the team level (34 percent); and
  • Submitting expenses (28 percent).

Top broken document management or sales processes:

  • Locating documents (49 percent);
  • Document sharing (43 percent);
  • Document approval requests (43 percent);
  • Pulling and finding data on sales (41 percent);
  • Completing and filing new client paperwork (34 percent);
  • Document versioning (33 percent);
  • Getting sales contracts signed, negotiated and approved (27 percent);
  • Communicating sales results to the company (23 percent);
  • Referring potential new business (19 percent); and
  • Recommending a new business line or product to the management team (15 percent).

The findings on document mismanagement “definitely revealed some of the biggest issues in today’s organizations,” said Nintex spokesperson Kristin Treat.

“If employees can’t simply access or share files, their leaders can’t expect them to complete projects in a timely manner,” she told CRM Buyer.

Difficulty pulling sales data signals another growing issue, Treat said. “As organizations become increasingly reliant on customer data to personalize the customer experience, companies will need to significantly improve their data management processes to keep tip with the competition and attract clients.”

Sales, Document Management Are Key

Revamping sales and document management processes “may not be top of mind for C-suite leaders,” Treat noted. “They often underestimate the impact these small processes have on both employees and customers.”

Further, while CRM platforms and sales automation tools are becoming a necessity, many employees may not know how to effectively use the technology, she pointed out.

Organizations should “prioritize continual employee training for new platforms to patch up these processes and ensure everyone’s working as efficiently as possible,” Treat suggested.

Marketing: Tough Administrative Haul

Another area of inefficiencies occurs in partner marketing, which recently has become more important for many companies.

A survey of 100 senior U.S. marketing executives conducted last fall by WorkSpan found the following:

  • 78 percent of respondents employed someone solely to track the progress of marketing campaigns;
  • 47 percent spent more than four hours each week in meetings to review the progress of marketing projects; and
  • 27 percent used at least 10 different software programs to collaborate with marketing partners and colleagues.

There’s “a significant lack of innovation” in alliance business processes that cross company boundaries, said Chip Rodgers, VP of marketing at WorkSpan.

“To date, there has been no cross-company go-to-market business process automation to manage the complexities of these relationships,” he told CRM Buyer, “for a single source of the truth and effective, efficient processes to win in the market together.”

Solving the Process Patchwork Problem

Most companies are “made up of systems, processes and rules that have been layered over each other,” observed Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Automating processes at once isn’t the answer, because “automating a bad design will likely make things worse,” he told CRM Buyer. “You have to step back and redesign the system first.”

Companies should first conduct a forensic holistic review of their processes, then develop and execute a plan to “massively reduce” the complexity and control gaps in their policies and processes, Enderle recommended.

Once that is done, companies can automate piecemeal.

“Implementing workflow automation doesn’t necessarily have to start from the top down,” Nintex’s Treat said.

“Companies can automate first the one process that has the most significant effect on their ROI,” then assess its impact on customer satisfaction and employee efficiency, and evaluate what to automate next, she suggested.

That approach also would make it easier for employees to adapt, Treat said, and be willing to adopt similar workflows later.



Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

Prime members can get 5 percent off Whole Foods with the Amazon Rewards Visa

Amazon-owned Whole Foods

Amazon has been making the lives of Whole Foods shoppers better ever since it acquired the grocery purveyor in 2017. Already, health-conscious shoppers have seen food prices cut and a host of convenient delivery options. Now, folks who patronize both Whole Foods and Amazon may have reason to rejoice again. The ecommerce giant announced that Prime members who are also Amazon Rewards Visa cardholders will now receive five percent back on Whole Foods Market purchases when they use their Amazon Prime Rewards Visa. So if you’re looking to save an extra five percent on your groceries, you may want to pick up your Amazon credit card.

Even if you’re not an Amazon Prime member (but still have the Amazon Rewards Visa), you can earn three percent back on Whole Foods Market purchases. That said, getting that extra two percent may be worth it if you’re a frequent enough grocery shopper.

“We are excited to launch the Amazon Rewards Visa Card in our stores, offering benefits to our customers on all of their purchases at Whole Foods Market,” John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

This latest benefit builds upon an existing suite of money back offers that cardmembers are already privy to. For example, Prime members can get five percent back at Amazon.com with an eligible Prime membership, or three percent back otherwise. Plus, there’s the offer of two percent back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, as well as one percent back on everything else. There is no cap on rewards earned, nor do rewards expire. And if you’re traveling, this is a pretty decent card to have, too — there are no foreign transaction fees to speak of, nor is there an annual credit card fee.

“We’ve seen incredible excitement and adoption around our Amazon Rewards Visa Credit Cards and are thrilled to partner with Amazon and Whole Foods Market to bring even more rewards to our joint cardmembers,” said Leslie Gillin, president of Chase Co-Brand Cards.

So if you’re looking to get a new credit card (and know that you will be frequenting Whole Foods), you may check out the Amazon Rewards Visa for your spending needs.

Editors’ Recommendations

9 premium economy classes that let you stretch your legs and your dollar

Air France Premiium Economy

Air France

“Premium economy? Sounds like a pen for dirty animals.”

That memorable quote comes from Rose Byrne’s character in the film, Spy, upon hearing about this class of service for the first time, while flying in her private jet.

While funny, there is some sad truth to it. What passes for domestic premium economy in the U.S. is nothing more than an ordinary coach seat with a bit more leg room. Alaska Airlines recently added a Premium Class option, but it’s no different in concept to other domestic carriers’ products (Delta’s Comfort+, American’s Main Cabin Extra, United’s Economy Plus, etc.). There are some perks, like priority boarding and perhaps a free glass of vino, but it’s really just another way for airlines to charge more for the same product.

Unless you’re flying internationally, that is. On those routes, premium economy starts to live up to the name. Some even rival the business or first-class seats offered on domestic flights. An intimate cabin, more comfortable seats, larger seatback displays, and priority services are just some of amenities that come with the slightly higher price, but significantly less than business class – for airlines it’s a way to increase revenue, but for passengers it’s a luxury option without going broke. We’re noticing that international premium economy is beginning to look the same, but we wouldn’t be surprise if airlines start upgrading their products to one-up the competition.

U.S. airlines had lag behind their global counterparts in this sector, offering the same product as they do in domestic flights. But things are changing. American Airlines was the first to up the ante with an improved premium economy class on international routes that competes against established players. Not to be outdone, Delta is also adding a sophisticated premium econ cabin to its fleet, while United is following suit with a luxe product to be unveiled sometime in 2018.

If you can afford to splurge a little for a more relaxing long-haul flight, here are some of our favorite premium economy classes.

British Airways World Traveller Plus

British-Airways-World-Traveller-Plus_

British Airways

Called World Traveller Plus, BA’s sleek premium economy cabin was first introduced on its newest planes, while older aircraft are being updated with the new product. The seats have a 10.6-inch screen that’s 60-percent bigger than the old ones (imagine just how tiny those were), more recline, and AC and USB power for your gear. While the offering is very similar to American’s, it just looks clean and refined.

Air France Premium Economy

Air France Premium Economy

Air France

Not only is Air France’s redesigned premium econ stylish, the seats have large 12-inch touchscreen displays, which makes viewing movies from a distance a lot easier. Even the silverware and dishes get a bit of extra attention. But it’s the brand-new premium economy product on Air France’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (shown) that has us excited. Each seat has a recline of 130 degrees with improved back support. The tray table even has a “reading rest” for your book or tablet.

ANA

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ANA’s Premium Economy cabin and service is comparable to the other airlines here: a more spacious seat with power ports and a large seat-back display, and better food and drinks. It’s even developed an exclusive menu for this cabin that features ramen from the highly regarded Ippudo chain of restaurants. But what grabs us is the complimentary lounge access prior to boarding. Lounges offer a great respite from the rest of the airport, and ANA Lounges are some of the best — a modern space with extensive refreshments (the food is highly substantial). It’s a nice bonus you won’t find with other airlines’ (except Japan Airlines) premium economy.

Lufthansa Premium Economy Class

While Lufthansa’s premium economy is similar to other airlines’, with larger screens (11 or 12 inches) and seats, the cabin in its Airbus A380s are located at the front of the plane and separated from the rest of standard economy by the galleys and its own lavatories. This makes it feel more like an exclusive area of the plane. We’ve tried Lufthansa’s product on its Boeing 747-8, and while we found its location on the plane awkward (it’s wedged within the standard economy cabin), we enjoyed the nicer seat and attentive service.

Norwegian Air Dreamliner Premium Class

Norwegian Air Shuttle

Norwegian is a low-cost carrier that operated primarily in Europe, but with the acquisition of Boeing’s new 787, it started long-haul operations to the U.S. and other parts of the world. While Norwegian remains a budget airline that offers low fares, it added a small premium cabin. Seats have some of the largest legroom in a premium econ product, and come with lounge access too.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic was one of the first to offer a premium economy cabin, and, in the early days, it was comparable to other airlines’ business class. While the competition has caught up, Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy has the widest seats of any airline, at 21 inches; more legroom is always welcome, but it’s seat width that makes a comfortable ride. Onboard Virgin’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft, you’ll find the Wander Wall, a social space filled with snacks and where you can mingle with others.

Japan Airlines Premium Economy Class

Japan Airlines Premium Economy

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines offers two seat versions in its premium economy class, but it’s the JAL Sky Premium that you should seek out, which you’ll find on its U.S.-Japan routes. JAL also offers a generous amount of leg room, a big leg rest, and footrest. Of course, not to be outdone by rival ANA, premium economy passengers also get lounge access, including those operated by Oneworld partners.

Delta Premium Select

Delta Premium Select cabin

Delta Air Lines

Delta launched its Premium Select cabin in its new Airbus A350-900 jets. The cabin has a two-four-two layout, which means each seat has easier access to the aisle. Each seat has 38 inches of legroom and a 19-inch width, and while it doesn’t turn into a full bed, it has a deep recline and both headrest and leg rest. But Delta isn’t stopping there. Besides a Tumi amenity kit and noise-canceling headphones, passengers have access to a large 13.3-inch LCD, power ports, priority boarding, and elevated dining service.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy

Singapore Airlines

Available on its Airbus A380, Airbus A350, and Boeing 777-300ER, Singapore’s premium economy cabin has modern, stylish seats with ample leg and elbow room, as well as a nine-inch recline and leg rest. It’s not as lavish as the airline’s first and business classes, but one thing it has in common with those cabins is the “Book the Cook” option, where you can pick your meal before you take off. Each seat has two USB ports and power outlet, 13.3-inch display with on-demand content, and noise-canceling headphones. Perhaps the biggest perk is Singapore’s excellent service.

Samsung beefs up the data center with a new SSD packing 31TB of storage

Samsung

Samsung recently introduced a new solid-state drive (SSD) for the enterprise packing a hefty 30.72 terabyte (TB) storage capacity. Labeled as the PM1643, it relies on the company’s V-NAND storage technology, promising higher storage capacities and faster data access than the standard SSD. It follows the company’s 15.36TB SSD released in March 2016. 

Although data centers still mostly rely on clunky mechanical hard drives, storage manufacturers are pushing NAND flash-based products to serve as the new norm. But the endgame may take some time given standard hard drives still have a cheaper per-gigabyte price point than current SSDs. 

The use of 3D-flash technology is also pushing to become the norm. A typical SSD relies on memory cells spread out like a city block packing up to three floors each. Meanwhile, 3D-flash technology crams storage cells onto layers, creating a stacked skyscraper of up to 64 “floors.” And instead of using streets to reach a particular office, data travels up and down elevators. 

That is an extremely simplified explanation, but the end result means storage capacities aren’t locked to the physical, horizontal real estate of the SSD. Data travels to and from memory cells faster too given the straight elevator-type pathway. 

On a more technical level, Samsung’s new SSD contains 32 physical NAND flash “packages” with a 1TB capacity each. Dig a little deeper, and each package contains 16 layers with a single 512-gigabit chip installed on each layer. These 512-gigabit chips contain 64 “floors” playing host to memory cells with three layers. Crazy, right? That is the miracle of modern technology. 

But that is not all — the SSD relies on a single controller chip that crams together nine memory controllers previously used in the company’s other high-capacity SSDs. You will find new firmware too supporting metadata protection, and data retention and recovery protection against sudden power loss. 

“The PM1643 drive also applies Through Silicon Via (TSV) technology to interconnect 8Gb DDR4 chips, creating ten 4GB TSV DRAM packages, totaling 40GB of DRAM,” the company says. “This marks the first time that TSV-applied DRAM has been used in an SSD.” 

According to Samsung, the new SSD provides double the performance than the previous 15.36TB model (PM1633a) with a sequential read speed of up to 2,100MB per second, and a sequential write speed of up to 1,700MB per second. The 15.36TB model provides read and write speeds of up to 1,250MB per second. 

In the case of both SSDs, they are standard 2.5-inch form factor drives that connect via the Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface. That connection is faster than what is typically used by hard drives and older SSDs, providing data transfer speeds of up to 12 gigabits per second versus six gigabits per second via the older SATA interface. More specifically, both SSDs support the SAS-3 interface. 

Samsung didn’t say when the drive will go live for the enterprise, nor did the company reveal pricing. It’s currently in mass production, so stay tuned for more details as the ship date nears. 

Editors’ Recommendations