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Google Wallet not planning an Australian launch, leaving a big opportunity for local mobile payment startups

8:15AM | Friday, 22 August

Google has revealed it has no plans to launch its Google Wallet mobile payment platform in Australia, with the news leaving a large gap in the local market for Australian tech startups to fill.   As Fairfax reported, at a Trans-Tasman Business circle lunch in Sydney, Google Australia’s managing director Maile Carnegie revealed it had no plans for an Australian launch.   During a wide-ranging discussion, Carnegie listed off a number of priority areas for the tech giant in Australia, mentioning that there are no plans for a local launch for Google Wallet.   A Google spokesperson confirmed to Private Media the tech giant didn’t have any plans for a local launch of its online payments platform.   "Right now, we're focusing on Google Wallet in the US, and don't have a plan to share for international roll out,” the spokesperson says.   It’s good news for local startup entrepreneurs in the online and mobile payments space, such as Rewardle founder and managing director Ruwan Weerasooriya.   Rewardle recently added support for Android Wear devices, after appointing the former head of Fairfax’s digital and metropolitan news divisions, Jack Matthews, as its chairman.   Weerasooriya told Private Media that tech and banking incumbents don't have a lock on the future of payments, particularly when it comes to the mobile devices.   "Mobile computing is changing the game; the disruption allows a nimble start up the opportunity to compete and win against large, powerful incumbents,” Weerasooriya.   “As demonstrated by the recent porting of Rewardle onto the Android wearable OS which allows our members to make payments using their smart devices, mobile payments is becoming a bigger part of our offering and focus.”   However, the news is not universally positive for mobile payments startups. Earlier this month, Tappr launched a pilot program, its JUVO system, which integrates an MPOS (mobile point of sales) app with a card reader.   Co-founder and chief executive Brett Hales told Private Media Google’s entry to the market will bring a lot more attention to the sector.   “We handle more on the merchant side of things rather than the consumer side, where Google Wallet operates, so our emphasis would be on integrating support for Google Wallet and other payment systems into JUVO,” Hales says.   Hales also speculates that Google’s decision to focus Wallet on the US market is because banks in the US have not made the sorts of investments local banks, such as CBA, have in mobile payments.   “Google have seen this and seen it might not be a good idea to tackle the Australian market,” he says.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Rewardle bets on consumers embracing wearables in a bid to bring tech to merchant reward cards

8:54AM | Tuesday, 19 August

Melbourne-based tech startup Rewardle has released its first version of technology that enables merchants to accept payments from their customers via wearable technology such as smartwatches.   Believing that wearables are here to stay, Rewardle founder and managing director Ruwan Weerasooriya says they pre-ordered test devices and started working through concepts for how wearable tech could extend and enhance the Rewardle offering.   “We’re on a mission to provide the digital engagement tools and business intelligence used by large retail chains to local High St merchants by unlocking the power of mobile computing, cloud based software and big data analysis,” he says.   “We've made sure that local High St merchants are armed with the technology to take advantage of this emerging consumer trend and to our knowledge we are among the first in the country to provide smartwatch users with the ability to pay for an item such as a coffee using their wearable device.”   Typical merchants that use the Rewardle platform include cafes, restaurants, hair and beauty salons, pubs/bars, gyms, grocery stores, day spas, pharmacies, juice bars and quick service food outlets.   The company has given the traditional “buy nine, get one free” paper punch card a digital makeover and extended its utility by adding prepayment, mobile ordering and social media integrations.   Merchants place a tablet running the Rewardle app on their counter allowing customers to interact with the tablet using a card, the Rewardle smartphone app and now their wearable device to check-in. Once checked in the customer can record their visit, collect points, redeem rewards and make payment.   "We've only scratching the surface with this initial iteration but as a lean start up we'll continue experimenting and go much deeper as we learn," Weerasooriya says.   Juniper Research forecast that the retail revenue from smart wearable devices, including smart-watches and glasses, will reach $19 billion by 2018. Locally, Australian research firm Telsyte has predicted Aussies will spend more than $1 billion on wearables, including smart-watches, wrist bands and glasses by 2016.

What Facebook’s device tracking means for advertisers … and you

8:18AM | Friday, 15 August

Facebook today unveiled the latest weapon in its digital arsenal: cross-device tracking capability. This enables advertisers to track individuals' usage behaviours between devices.   This means that your Facebook (and related) usage patterns are being tracked and matched across devices whether you are using an old-world PC, your latest feature-packed smartphone or possibly even your internet-capable wearable technology.   The common thread is your Facebook login.   This, in turn, will allow Facebook to offer its paid advertisers the added accuracy to track precisely who had been presented which specific advert, and when, where, how (such as which device you’ve used) and whether they accessed (or clicked) the advert. They will also be able to track your individual site or app usage patterns and behaviours.   In other words, your every move is constantly in the crosshairs of the online marketers and our globally dominant digital landlords.   Ignore the hype – it’s old news   Cross-device or cross-platform reporting is nothing new. Google announced last October a similar cross-device capability for its AdWords paying customers, so the marketing hype around Facebook’s offering has more to do with attracting and keeping its paying advertisers, with you being the product.   Your online identity is the key that unlocks the doors to the online advertiser’s kingdom. By being able to attribute your purported Facebook identity such as user name, gender, age and so on to every online interaction through Facebook and related sites, irrespective of which device you are using, this will allow interested parties to stitch together and link these patterns to you and not just the device.   For the most part, and without being aware of it, the rules of the marketing jungle are continually being reshaped by the evolution of the underlying technologies, all tied together with our online identity.   Face(book) the facts   The fact that privacy and internet should not be used in the same sentence is nothing new.   What is new, though, is the increasing intensity of the arms race by marketers and commercial organisations in grabbing their share in the monetisation of your every step in cyberspace. As the capabilities of our technologies evolve, your every move on the internet is being increasingly scrutinised with finer and finer granularity.   The accelerating uptake of mobile computing devices such as tablets and smartphones together with the relentless push by organisations to have you preferably interact with them online, is further fuelling the global monetisation of our individual use of the internet.   The increase in people accessing the internet or using apps from their mobile devices means that there are more “views”, “hits” and “clicks”. These numbers are the fuel for the global digital marketing and advertising engine.   The adage that “if you’re not paying, then you’re the product” applies more now than ever before.   Rob Livingstone has no financial interests in, or affiliations with any organisation mentioned in this article. Other than his role at UTS, he is also the owner and principal of an independent Sydney based IT advisory and mentoring practice. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Facebook investor Peter Thiel launches $402 million global VC firm

6:33PM | Thursday, 21 June

Early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has used the fortune he made from Facebook’s IPO to launch a new $402 million venture capital firm, which is looking globally for potential deals.

Tablets and apps dominate 2011 CES

1:25PM | Sunday, 16 January

Start-ups have been urged to take note of the hottest trends at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, which showcases the latest innovations in gadgets and technology.

Start-ups primed for mobile app boom

12:43AM | Monday, 6 December

Start-up developers look set to take advantage of the rocketing popularity of mobile computing devices, with new research predicting a surge in the sector over the next five years.

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