Tag: Barclays

Wi-fi continues to be a cash cow

wi-fi symbolDespite prices continuing to drop on wi-fi in hotels – with many offering it now as a service like hot water and towels – there are still opportunities for service and providers to make money.

ABI Research issued a report saying that the number of installed access points will be as many as 400 million commercial and enterprise units by 2019.

Shops have started offering wi-fi as a free amenity – several high street names here in the UK including Boots, Debenhams and Barclays offer it now for a free.

The idea, according to ABI, is that giving free wi-fi access attracts people into shops, gives customers a good feeling about the vendor, and also is likely to generate extra sales.

Coming up are data analytics and targeted advertising so that as your feet fall into a shop, the vendor will automatically know the kinds of things you like.

Service providers have the know how about us customers and are likely to collaborate with shops, offering a “business to consumer” fresh line of revenue generation.

ABI said emerging technologies including Hotspot 2.0, VoW-Fi and 802.11ac are likely to encourage businesses to bet bucks on growing their business through wi-fi.

Osborne praises East London Tech City investment

Chancellor George Osborne today revealed some details on plans for East London Tech City – including confirmation that Barclays and Vodafone will be investing. He called it a “triple whammy” because they were joined by a Japanese social gaming business, Gree.

The announcements seem to preempt Osborne’s hope of a venture capitalist circle-jerk for technology startups. Barclays is going to provide funding to Central Working – which lets offices to start-ups – with the aim of nurturing 22,000 new businesses over the next five years, reports the FT, but exactly how much the bank has invested was not disclosed.

Vodafone, meanwhile, has promised that it will build a technology lab. The announcements are sort-of new: both companies said that they would invest when the Coalition’s plans for a technology park in the East London were first announced.

Social gaming company Gree, which has a strong lead in the Japanese market, has also committed to opening an office. Gree already has offices operating in Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Dubai, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, and San Francisco. An Italian company called Morning Boost has also said that it will open an office and create 50 jobs.

Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the Silicon Valley Bank have all made announcements about operating in the capital this year.

“You will not find a country anywhere in the world that is more open to technology, more open to investment, and more open to business,” Osborne said.

Of course, there are plenty of technology success stories in the UK already, such as Cambridge-based ARM, which is currently trouncing the competition in energy efficient chip IP, and Rockstar North in Scotland immediately coming to mind as obvious examples. But the East London Tech City initiative seems more concerned with moving cash through angel and investment schemes for moneyed men to invest in start-ups than actual technological innovation.

P.S. Look at the Kernel for a comprehensive rundown on reasons to approach the Tech City Investment Organisation with caution.

Barclaycard sucked into Italian website disaster

British bank Barclays appears to have gone native in Italy with its Barclaycard service.

For a long time, Italian banks have had a reputation for being not exactly helpful. This has saved them money lately. They were largely unaffected by the banking crash because they forgot to loan much money out.

Now it seems that Barclays, which is the only British bank working in Italy, appears to have gone completely native.

Not only are local branches spontaneously closed for no apparent reason, the move to online banking has created a website site www.barclays.it that is full of holes which makes it impossible to do anything basic like order a Barclaycard.

The website appears helpful, telling you all you need to know about the different types of Barclaycard, what you have to pay and how you can do it.

It is more or less what you would expect from a modern banking site, until you come to order the card itself.

The site tells you can order your Barclaycard by visiting the site you are on, visiting Barclaycard.it, phoning up a 24 hour hotline, or going into your branch.

However nowhere on the site does it allow you to apply for a card. Indeed if you go to the Barclaycard sister site www.barclaycard.it, you find similar information, but can’t order one either.

If you call up the 24 hour help line to apply you are asked to input the card number that you have not got before they will put you through to anyone. In fact when we tried to contact them on a Saturday the office appeared to be on an automatic message due to an Italian national holiday.

If you decide to go to your local branch you will find a very helpful person who says you have to apply online for a Barclaycard and she can only do paperwork for an American Express Card.

It appears then that the British Barclays is trying to avoid losing money in Italy. It sets up a nice website, which everyone has to be referred to, and then twice “forgets” to stick the page where you apply for one, thus preventing anyone from applying for one and getting into debt.

Unless it really was a mistake and it was just not spotted by the site QA. 

Visa, Vodafone the latest to feverishly promote NFC

Near Field Communication, or NFC technology, is well and truly being foisted upon the paying public. Whether they like it or not, the ultra-convenience of waving your smartphone to buy has been picked up by Barclays, and now, Visa.

Mobile carrier giant Vodafone has signed on the dotted line with Visa so that it can use Visa payWave. The feature, which acts as a mobile wallet, will be available from Spring. Users terrified of the security implications might be reassured that, for purchases over £15, the customer will be prompted to tap in a pin code.

The world has been told by Vodafone chief exec Vittorio Calao that NFC payments will be “the next stage of the smartphone revolution”, reports the Press Association

Although most devices on the market right now are not equipped with NFC, it has long been tipped as the next big thing. NFC payments will offer an easier way for customers to spend their hard-earned, in much the same way as the London Underground has Oyster Card readers.

Is the world ready for – or does it want – Near Field Communication for mobile payments in phones? Manufacturers, carriers and credit card companies will, no doubt, be rubbing their palms together over the prospects of profits. In the end, it doesn’t matter what Joe Public thinks – NFC is going to be on tonnes of phones, soon. Barclays has already detailed its own service and we can expect more to come.

According to Catherine Haslam, an analyst at industry-watchers Ovum, NFC and payments really are a “chicken and an egg situation”. Mobile payments are seen by device manufacturers, says Haslam, as the catalyst for the consumer to buy new devices, while service providers see the devices as a catalyst for service take-up.

“The third point of impetus could come from retailers and others with control over PoS equipment such as transport service providers,” says Haslam. “Just like the deployment of chip and PIN bank cards, NFC is likely to be supply rather than demand driven. Given that NFC is becoming commonplace in new mobile handsets and replacement and upgrade cycles are shortening, if enough NFC equipment is installed then services will start to be used.”

Visa has been active in promoting subsidising upgrading PoS equipment, according to Haslam, so there is some momentum. “However, in general, global terms,” she says, “because the benefit in speed is marginal and is not really recognised by consumers, the majority of retailers are slow adopters.”

If deployments are going to be worth it on a wide scale for retailers, Haslam says retailers will need to find service value beyond the convenience and speed that NFC provides. “This could either be for themselves in terms of greater loyalty and customer information, or for the consumer in better deals and service,” she suggests. “Increased security is one possible option but the one Visa and others are talking to retailers about is combining the payment and loyalty card functions to offer more targeted special offers to specific customers, to further increase loyalty and the value of each visit to a store.”

Speed of use will be worthwhile in some situations, for example, on transport or the London Olympics, where processing people as quick as possible does offer significant benefits. “However, this is usually being done with specialist cards such as Oyster in London rather than via mobile phone, as ubiquity and scale are essential,” Haslam says. “The exceptions as usual are in Japan, where NFC-enabled mobile phones have been used for some years, and Korea where they are also being used successfully in transport and other services.”

Though the consumer liked to use NFC in tests, carriers will need to work hard to generate interest. Haslam says that in France, which she says is the home of the smart card, there are already deployments and Visa has been working closely with Telefonica on trials. “People liked it when they used it, but had no real interest in trying it for the first time,” Haslam said. “Therefore, the marketing of services and some form of promotion that enables consumers to try services will be necessary.”

Barclays' PingIt app will 'certainly' be targeted by criminals

Barclays has announced its money-sending app, PingIt, which the bank claims is as safe as any other banking transaction.

While many may be concerned about sending money via their smartphones, Barclays believes that mobile payment will “revolutionise” the way money is passed around.

The free to use PingIt app will, at first, only send money from a Barclays account – but will mean that anyone will be able to register to receive money from a sender’s smartphone.

The money is sent using Barclay’s Faster Payments service, and the bank chain says that with a five digit PIN code needed to send payments it is as safe as a regular bank transaction.  However, in order make the transactions quick, full bank details are not required.

Barclays is playing down the amount of money users can send, painting it as an opportunity to quickly send a tenner to a friend or family member.

But the possibility to send up to £300 using the service – more than many standard accounts let you withdraw as cash from the bank each day – there will be concerns about the security.

Rik Ferguson, Director of Security Research & Communication at Trend Micro believes that there is serious potential the system could come under attack from criminals.

“It will certainly be a target,” Ferguson told TechEye. “Criminals follow consumer behaviour and if consumers begin to move money around on mobile devices that will be of distinct interest for criminals, and they will try and exploit it.”

Mobile users are already fairly lax with security, Ferguson says. “There are still far too many people who are not in the habit of locking their phone with a PIN,” he continued. “Obviously there is a PIN for the app itself but if you are not using the PIN on your phone you are increasing your risk.”

There is also the real possibility that criminals could create malicious software to target PingIt.

“We are already seeing increasing number of malicious apps out there,” Ferguson says. “Replica versions of the official apps available in app stores are already common tactics – for example, Angry Birds or Cut The Rope.

“It would be quite a simple matter to make a copy of the app and have people download it, and have it look like it is acting as normal but actually stealing information and finding out what the PIN is.”

Ferguson believes that there are plenty of ways in which PingIt has the potential to be exploited: “There is the possibility of key logging, so Barclays need to look at this as well as potential vulnerabilities or flaws in the code,” he said.

Epsilon data breach hits Hilton, Barclays and 48 others

Another day, another data breach. This time from the seed fund behind a socialite’s bar tab, Hilton Worldwide.

Its third party marketing partner, Epsilon, warned it that there had been a breach of sorts. It insists financial and other sensitive details are unaffected but names and e-mail addresses have been farmed. We reported on the breach yesterday.

Hilton says that the most likely impact, if any, will be unsolicited emails. It suggests a couple of handy tips to counter its marketing vendor’s security inadequacies – don’t share personal information by email or open weird messages from strangers.

Be cautious, as always, of phishing scams. Hilton won’t ask for those details, etc., etc., etc.,. 
Hilton said Epsilon’s just one of a group of companies affected by the breach. 

But it has turned out that “approximately two percent” of all of its clients were struck, which makes up about 50. The incident, Epsilon said, occurred on the 30th and that a “full investigation is currently underway”.

It seems top hitters may have been targeted, with Barclays, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Lacoste and Marriott all issuing warnings, according to CIO magazine. D’oh. 

Samsung launches the Galaxy Portal

Samsung has launched its Android inspired Galaxy Portal, which has some nifty augmented reality search features.

Using the Layar application on Google maps it can guide you to the nearest cash point, bar and hotel. lastminute.com, Barclays, the trainline.com, Nestoria property search, Hotels.com and Qype.com who provide the detailing can also provide quick reviews, which could be useful if you were after something specific.

Samsung also provides a football pub finder app, from its database of bars across the UK, which must have been painstakingly put together by some dedicated Samsung employees.

Due to the collaboration with Google the device also includes gmail and YouTube, along with social networking support for both Facebook and Myspace.

The Galaxy also has a 3.2 inch touchscreen for navigating round all the apps and guides.

Samsung Mobile UK, said in its release: “This is a great opportunity to work in one of the most innovative and exciting areas of mobile technology and with some fantastic lifestyle brands, providing some amazing experiences for our customers.

“The Samsung Galaxy Portal marks our first entry into the exciting world of Augmented Reality.”

The phone also has a 3.2 megapixel camera. Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity is also included, along with standards such as Bluetooth.

The Galaxy Portal is available on T-Mobile now, but will be rolled out across other networks over the next few months.