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

ebay Christmas Boutique: Trading bar codes for QR codes

Since it was founded in 1995, Ebay quickly became one of the most outstanding success stories of the dot-com revolution. Unlike many entrepreneurial ventures that often demise as speedily as they rise, especially in the constantly evolving world of the internet, Ebay has maintained its spot as the number one internet consumer-to-consumer corporation. In fact so successful has the multi-billion dollar business become that, next month, it is opening its first high street store in the UK, forming a unique unification between high street shopping and the internet.

eBay

If you love in-store browsing but dread the inevitable Christmas queues that go hand-in-hand with high street Christmas shopping, then those entrepreneurial folk at Ebay seem to have come up with answer, well they didn’t become billionaires for no reason, did they?  From Thursday 1st December to Monday 5th December 2011, the eBay Christmas Boutique will be taking place on Dean Street in London’s West End. Shoppers will be able to browse through a selection of gifts and deals in the pop-up boutique, make their selections, but instead of taking their purchases and joining a ghastly 30ft-long queue, using mobile technology shoppers can simply scan the Quick Response (QR) code with their smartphone and make their purchase online in a matter of clicks.

This innovative shopping experience will be the UK’s first ever QR code shopping emporium, and in typical intuitive fashion, Ebay is opening its Christmas Boutique store during what is anticipated to be the busiest online shopping weekend of the year, with sales forecast to peak at over 30 gift items being bought every second.

So they sure have their timing right and their location, London’s West End has to be equally as intuitive as launching the Ebay Christmas Boutique on ‘Super Sunday, whereby  5.8 million shoppers are expected to log on to Ebay.co.uk to pick up a bargain Christmas gift, but are there any flaws in the American company’s latest consumer venture? Well, being only available to smartphone users could be one and considering that only 31% of the British population browse the internet on their phones – A phenomenal amount if you own Apple or Blackberry, but alienating a 69% of the British public from exploiting the unique consumer experience Ebay’s Christmas Boutique provides, is surely an all too hefty proportion of shoppers? Although Ebay does seem to have this area covered ensuring us that whether you own a smartphone or not, anyone can come along and try out QR code experience, browse the Christmas deals and enter a prize draw to win great Christmas prizes.

It sure sounds inquisitively entertaining, although I am still wondering, from an Ebay seller’s point of view, how you manage to get your items to be displayed in the Ebay Christmas Boutique.

TWIG: Tesco barcode scanner, easyroommate iPhone app, thinksound TS02

The week in gadgets.

The almost ubiquitous iPhone, has an almost ubiquitous tag line. “there’s an app for that.” Any the burgeoning App store means that there an app for almost everything – even the truly ridiculous.

Tesco-Barcode-Scanner

Another watchword for ubiquity, in the UK at least is Tesco and the two have joined forces to launch a barcode reader for the iPhone. The barcode reader, which is now part of the Tesco iPhone app, is as easy as it sounds. Just swipe the barcode of an item and it’s added to you online basket, so you can re-up on biscuits whenever you’ve eaten all of your flatmate’s hob-nobs.

If you’re looking for a new flatmate however (preferably one who doesn’t eat all your hob-nobs) then there is also an app for you. Easyroommate.co.uk has launched an free iPhone app that shows details of all available flatshares in the local areas, with relevant filters and allows you to contact the advertisers all from your handset – helpful if you have difficulty getting access to a PC or are between houses. According to the people behind easyroomamate.co.uk, one in six flatshares are snapped up in 24 hours, so having the flatshare app can be a real boon if you are on the prowl for a new place to live. Those lacking in iPhone love can also head to the sites mobile version, which should work on most other handsets. Check it out.

thinksound

Advance MP3 players have launched a range of environmentally friendly earphones. The thinksound TS02 (which features the mic, there is a TS01 sans mic) has lovely high-definition drivers. But most strikingly, they come encased in hand-crafted wood, which adds a little to the sound quality and a lot to the look of the TS02s. The packaging is recycled materials and the wood is from renewable sources, so the thinksound set is very environmentally friendly choice and a £49, it’s a pretty budget friendly option as well.