Payleven: Pocket Chip&Pin

Payleven

Cash may well be king as far as investment goes but it’s becoming a downright nuisance in day to day life. Ever handed someone a wad of coins, hard legal tender, yet had to apologise for all the “shrapnel”. Ever struggled to make change? Not wanted to split a 20? Or wandered the streets searching for an ATM? Cash is ubiquitous yet clearly a crazy anachronism in much of modern life.

Payleven hope to change much of that, having developed the first internationally available mobile Chip & PIN solution that enables anyone to take card payments with their Smartphone or tablet. Whilst clearly targeted at more small businesses than the general populace to start with, it’s a step on the road to cashless transactions.

“Not accepting card payments can cause huge problems for UK small businesses in terms of lost sales and unpaid invoices. No matter whether you’re a merchant with a corner shop, a market stall holder or an electrician at a customer’s house. Payleven is the smart way to get paid- it’s mobile, convenient, secure and low-cost with no monthly fees or contracts.”

Ian Marsh, Payleven UK CEO & co-founder

Payleven works via a small bluetooth Chip&Pin device. The interface is chunky and feels like an overweight calculator. But it’s not overly heavy and feels like it could easily be stored in the front of a traders apron at a market. It’s certainly smaller than the giant things they wheel out at restaurants and comes with reassuringly solid rubber keys. It won’t make or break the device, but it puts me at ease popping my card into a device that feels robust. You change the device via micro USB and it hooks up to any Bluetooth tablet or smartphone with the minimum of fuss. There’s a card slot at the bottom for taking payments. The card reader is associated with your merchant account for security reasons so you can’t change them round on the fly – probably very useful for fraud.

Taking payments is quick and easy – it’s just like traditional Chip&Pin except between individuals. This gives Payleven the edge over American rivals Square as the system complies with Visa’s stringent Chip&Pin regulations – a big deal as according to Payleven Visa transactions represent about 80% of all UK debit and credit card transactions. You track payments via the app, which links back to your online account. Payleven is EMV(Europay, Mastercard and VISA) Level 2 approved and compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard’s (PCI-DSS) highest 3.1 level certification. In addition no sensitive data is stored on either on the Chip&PIN device or smartphone/ tablet, and all data traffic is fully encrypted.

Payleven charges purely on a pay-as-you-go basis with no monthly fees, instead charging users a flat 2.75% fee. Depending on your business model this could work out cheaper than working with Square, who charge a substantial monthly fee. The barriers to entry with Square in a way much lower – the Square reader is sent to you free and is a more lightweight device that works directly with your phone/tablet. Payleven’s card reader carries an £89 price of admission. But the lack of monthly fees, added compatibility via Chip&Pin and widespread availability in the UK make it a winning proposition in Europe at least.

For more info check out Payleven

5 Top Money Management Apps for 2013

Money-Management-

Despite the seemingly unshakable dismal economic landscape, high levels of unemployment and stores crumbling into administration all around us, young people are managing to cut back on credit card debt and are actually saving more than ever, apparently. What is the reason for the renewed sense of financial responsibility amidst such a fragile financial climate? – Money management apps of course!

As 2013 has been marked by many as the year for money resolutions, a growing number of apps dedicated at bringing a financial adviser into our pockets are emerging – Check out the top five.

Mint.com

With more than 10 million users, we cannot deny that there is a niche for Mint.com. Simply open a free account, add your bank account(s), loans, credit cards, etc., and Mint categorises your transactions and provides you with a personal budgeting feature that is based on your spending patterns and incomings.

What’s more, Mint’s free – Who needs to pay an overpriced and under worked financial adviser when they’ve got Mint.com?

Adaptu Wallet

Doing a similar job to Mint, namely tracking and categorising incomings and outgoings, Adaptu Wallet is a comprehensive money management app with the added advantage of enabling you to store everything in your wallet by taking a picture of it on your phone – Digital wallet technology at its most discerning.

You can download Adaptu Wallet for free onto an Android device here

MoneyStrands

Loaded with the logo, ‘Money Management Made Fun,’ MoneyStrands tracks every last penny of your spending habits with user-friendly features such as pie charts so that you can actually visualise your spending habits.

A My Budgets page enables you to set up budgets according to specific needs and see instantly if you have gone over budget – With money management technology this advanced, it’s no wonder the traditionally financially irresponsible are becoming infinitely more financially responsible.

Again, MoneyStrands is free to download.

Spend Lite

Spend Lite is the free version of its more powerful budgeting app sibling, Spend, and let’s be honest when it comes to budgeting our money we don’t want to have to pay for the privilege, do we?

Part of Spend Lite’s appeal is its simplicity, which basically deducts the amount you set for expenses for either a daily or weekly budget and keeps track of deposits.

Great for simple budgets, but not so good, perhaps, for more complicated budgets such as working out tax and tracing interest.

Spend Lite is free and can be downloaded here

ReadyFor Zero

Transgressing from out of the monetary red and into the green is a priority of us all and one that is made considerably more achievable with ReadyForZero.

This helpful money management app assists you in creating a debt-repayment plan that manages student loans, credit cards and mortgage repayments. In fact, so successful has ReadyForZero been in the dominions of money management, that it claims to have helped users pay off more than $32 million in outstanding debt.

You can sign up for ReadyFor Zero free here.

 

Image courtesy of Flickr user auntjojo

Barclaycard Toys Unleashed: Augmented reality in the palm of your hand

When Barclaycard invited me to a trendy East London dim sum restaurant to preview their new augmented reality gaming app I was confused, flattered and desperate to try the scallion pancakes.

If you think of Barclaycard as a credit card company you’d be 100% correct. It’s in the name. But they’d like you to think beyond their obvious function and to reposition themselves as a “payment provider”. To raise awareness of this function and to further develop innovate ways to part you with your cash such as the PayTag which we covered here Barclaycard are constantly on the lookout for ways to raise their profile. Obviously they have an advertising campaign (that had passed me by as I sold my soul to Netflix a long time ago) but an interesting sign of the times is that they have developed an iPhone game to go along with the campaign – Toys Unleashed.

toys-unleashed

What I found most interesting was that this wasn’t the first time they’d done this and that it’s a successful way of marketing. I was also impressed that something as fusty as a credit card company would be so bold as to jump on the apps bandwagon. In another life I worked for top-tier finance companies and their reluctance to embrace technology in any way shape or form was breathtaking.

One of Barclaycard’s recent apps, Waterslide Extreme had 20 million downloads and one of the developers told me that there are probably a fair few kids deep in America’s heartland that probably think Barclaycard just make games.

Toys Unleashed is an Augmented Reality children’s game where you hold a tiny avatar in the palm of your hand. You can feed a monkey or battle spaceships with a small robot. It’s mildly distracting but probably best suited for those 10 and under.

The most interesting thing about the app however (apart from its role as an integrated marketing strategy) is its augmented reality functionality. Rather than having to lay down a marker and having that be a focal point that the app interacts with the developers were able to use your skin as a marker, which is actually a pretty impressive feat of programming involving lots of motion tracking. The practical upshot of this is that you can simply hold out your palm and the phone will recognise and interact with it.

The Barclaycard Toys Unleashed iPhone app is free and out now.