UK’s Weve Makes Progress on NFC mCommerce

Weve, the UK joint venture from mobile operators Vodafone, EE and O2 is gearing up for a big push behind NFC payments next year.

Their vision is summed up by this quote from the article:
“Weve hopes to have a system whereby mobile users can tap their phone at the till to use a discount offer, a second time to collect the loyalty points, and a third to pay the bill — all of which has been encouraged through advertising sent to the person’s phone or tablet”

NFC-based Mobile Payments Ramp Up In China

Chinese giants China Mobile and UnionPay have joined forces to launch an NFC mobile payments solution in 14 of China’s biggest cities in coordination with eight leading Chinese banks.

The mechanism embeds payment information inside an NFC-enabled SIM card, in contrast to other platforms such as those in the US that tend to store payment information inside the mobile device itself.

The goal for this project is to roll out the NFC payment capability to 100 cities in China in the near future.

Starbucks Stumbles With Square

Almost a year ago, Starbucks announced its now-famous partnership with Square Wallet. Starbucks invested $25 million in the startup, and in return Starbucks promised that about 7,000 locations – many in metropolitan areas – would accept payment via the app. The promise was simple: simply tap the app, scan the phone, and walk away from the counter. And indeed, many locations fulfill this promise; but for a company that is so highly focused on customer service, widespread reports of failures after many months of supposed integration come as a blow to the partnership. On many occasions, users ave found the experience of using Square to be awkward, inconsistent, and at worst impossible. Managers and baristas have been found to lack basic training to use the app, even in locations that supposedly support the service. In one instance, a barista even accidentally clicked into a user’s personal messages in an attempt to manually enter the barcode number into the register. Problems might include a lack of wide-spread Square adoption, or an attempt to attempt to fix bugs in real time until the app hits a tipping point and then works seamlessly, much like the original mobile payments app. Starbucks has officially stated that they are “100% committed to Square,” but either way you slice it, any problems with Square integration – whether they’re a result of barista inexperience, technological malfunction, or both – are a knock to Starbucks’ reputation as a customer service-first company, and to the startup itself.

Square Releases Virtual Gift Cards

Just in time for the Holidays, Square is introducing a virtual gift card that integrates seamlessly with its wallet app.  You can search by category to find a local business and then send the gift along with a personal message that’s delivered via email.  The receiver then has the gift saved in their mobile wallet.  It’s a pretty great user experience and another impressive move in a banner year for Square.