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13 ביוני 2015
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MasterCard Hackathons Uncover Coders to Advance Digital Payments

By KIM S. NASH – The Wall Street Journal

MasterCard held a 24-hour hackathon in Tel Aviv starting on June 11.
MasterCard International Inc. held a 24-hour hackathon in Tel Aviv Thursday and Friday to identify coders using emerging technology, such as wearables and biometrics, for digital payments systems. The event is part of a 12-city contest from MasterCard’s innovation lab, where startups are nurtured with cash and mentorship as the financial services company seeks to advance cashless transactions – especially those that use its own application programming interfaces.

The market for digital payments technology is highly fragmented, with startups and stalwarts, such as Apple Inc. and Google Inc., competing to get customers to use their systems.

The hackathons are part of MasterCard’s program to cultivate new companies or products in payments and other customer experience technology. Late last year, the company invested an undisclosed sum in Nymi, which makes a bracelet that uses cardiac rhythms to authenticate users. In Tel Aviv, nine teams pitched tech ideas. The winning team, weBusking, entered a system for self-broadcasting live performances. Runner-up Rav-Kav submitted a payments smart card. Other entries included a smartwatch wallet and a fitness app tied to charitable giving. Winners will later compete for $100,000 to develop their technology, as well as six months of coaching from MasterCard.

Tel Aviv is a hot hub for startups, attracting foreign bankers, venture capitalists and executives on the lookout for the next big thing in technology.

In any innovation program, companies should investigate new technologies and emerging business models, even if they seem threatening, said Steve Hill, vice chair of strategic investments and innovation at KPMG. Experimentation helps a company stay in control, he said.

Also part of MasterCard’s startup strategy is an effort to introduce its own customers, such as banks and merchants, to young technology companies. Some MasterCard customers don’t normally deal with startups and want help figuring out how to get into that world, said Stephane Wyper, global lead of MasterCard’s Start Path startup program.

Plus, MasterCard wants to help advance the technology at their customer locations, so they can keep pace with MasterCard itself, Mr. Wyper said. “We want everyone to understand the space,” he said. He is interested “in having as many startups as possible build with what we have in terms of APIs,” he said.

Keeping technological parity among financial powerhouses and smaller partners can help avoid cybersecurity problems. The financial services supply chain can include hundreds or thousands of handoffs – openings that can present security risks, as CIO Journal reported last month.


29 במרץ 2015
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NFC wristbands to help swimmers track performance

By  NFCWorld

Ledswim NFC swimming training wristband

GUEST STROKE: Tapping wristband against a poolside kiosk will direct swimmer to a lane

Swimmers will soon be able to use NFC wristbands to set up personal training regimes and measure their performance in the pool. A pilot in five pools in Israel will use the wristbands, a mobile app and light runners along the bottom of swimming lanes connected to LCD displays on the pool wall.

Swimmers will download the app and get an NFC wristband from a participating leisure centre. They will then need to enter their swimming regime into the app, including the number of lengths they want to complete and the time they hope to do it in.

Once in the pool, the swimmer taps their wristband against a poolside kiosk which will direct them to a lane. Once in the water, the light runners will act as pacemakers.

A video shows the system in action:

The pilot is designed by startup Ledswim and NFC Israel, whose CEO Oren Cohen spoke to NFC World in advance of its launch in May.

“The NFC wristbands feature a regular NFC tag, the NTAG203 chip, so that the app can just read the UID from it,” he said. “We use the NFC UID in order to connect the swimmer to the application.

“So, once the swimmer gets their wristband from the country club or the fitness club, before entering the pool, they identify themselves with a tap of their wristband against the NFC-enabled pool kiosk, which is a Sony Xperia Z tablet.

“This gives the swimmer their lane number. Once they enter the pool, they then tap their wristband against a reader at the beginning of their lane before starting their swim. The light runners along the bottom of the swimming pool lane act as the pacer, so this measures the pace and progress of the swimmer which then gets displayed on the LCD display at the end of the swimming pool lane.

“The LCD display will show the swimmer’s number of laps as well as a timer. So, it’s a digital LCD led display that is connected to the swimming lane to show the information to the swimmer as they swim.”

“The app isn’t available just yet,” Cohen added. “We are starting to pilot in several pools around the country and, after that, we will go public.”


19 במרץ 2015
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Facebook rolls out payments with Messenger app

By  NFCWorld

Facebook Messenger payments

CHAT AND PAY: Facebook Messenger app with secure payments service. Click to enlarge

Facebook users in the US will soon be able to make and receive secure mobile payments for free via the social network’s Messenger app. The service is rolling out “over the coming months”, Facebook says.

Payments can be made by tapping a ‘$’ icon within the app and entering the amount the user wants to send, before tapping ‘Pay’ to add a Visa or MasterCard debit card issued by a US bank.

Once the card is added, users can create a PIN to provide an extra layer of security the next time a payment is made. Users with iOS devices can also enable the Touch ID authentication service.

Recipients open the message that comes through to them and tap ‘Add Card’ to receive their payment for the first time. The money is transferred immediately.

A video shows the service in action:

Facebook says the new payments feature will be introduced over the next few months in the US across Android, iOS and desktop.

It comes less than a year after former PayPal CEO David Marcus left to take up a new role at Facebook, as vice president of messaging products, prompting speculation that he was being brought in to oversee building ecommerce and payments capabilities into the social network.


19 במרץ 2015
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Alibaba boss demonstrates selfie payments

By  NFCWorld

Jack Ma shows off Alibaba's prototype face biometric payment system

PAY-BY-SELFIE: Jack Ma shows off Alibaba’s prototype face biometric payment system

Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma has demonstrated a prototype biometric verification service that could enable a payment to be authorized by simply capturing an image of a mobile phone user’s face.

Ma unveiled the pay-by-selfie concept during the opening ceremony for this year’s Cebit trade fair in Hanover, Germany.

“Online payment to buy things is always a big headache,” Ma said. “You forget your password, you worry about the securities.”

To make a purchase using the service, he explained, an Alipay customer would click the “Buy” button next to an item on Alibaba’s site. They would then be directed to take a picture of their face using the camera on their smartphone and, once verified, confirm the purchase to complete the transaction.

A video shows Ma demonstrating the service:

There is, however, “no word from Alibaba on when the beta version shown by Ma will be ready for prime time”, the company’s Alizila blog says.


19 במרץ 2015
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Four in ten US iPhone 6 owners have now used Apple Pay

By  NFCWorld

Apple Pay has been tried at least once by 42% of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners in the US, a survey by Auriemma Consulting Group (ACG) has found — and almost half the owners who haven’t yet tried the NFC mobile payments service (47%) say they intend to do so within the next six months.

Some 43% of those who have used Apple Pay have only used it in a physical location, 37% have used it both in-store and in-app, while 19% have used it only in-app, the February 2015 survey of 500 iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users found.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of those who have tried the service have gone on to make a second Apple Pay purchase at the same location as their initial transaction.

“It is not surprising that repeat usage is high, given the positive reports of the user experience,” ACG says. “On a five-point scale, 98% rated their satisfaction with Apple Pay in the top two boxes, with 60% in the top box.”


31 באוגוסט 2014
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NFC chip finally spotted in Apple iPhone 6 leaks

One of the many rumors surrounding Apple’s plans to deliver its iPhone 6 lineup has concerned the presence (or not) of support for NFC. Granted, such talk is hardly new, and last year we were hearing about possible NFC support for the iPhone 5S – hell, we were even seeing NFC rumors surrounding the iPhone 5 back in 2012, continuing up until just hours before the phone’s launch event. So of course, they returned this year, with a flurry of new claims, and some circumstantial, if less-than-ironclad evidence. But this time we finally might see some results, and new imagery of the iPhone 6 motherboard appears to reveal the chip that will be responsible for bringing the smartphone NFC.

That tiny guy in the image above is supposedly it, an NFC controller from NXP Semiconductors. Besides giving the iPhone 6 the ability to conduct wireless payments, simplify device pairing, and facilitate content sharing between devices, we may see the same chip pop up in Apple’s rumored iWatch, bringing similar abilities to the wearable.

NFC still isn’t quite the huge success early proponents hoped it would become, but Apple could do wonders to help remedy that situation. Especially in the mobile payment sphere, conflicting software support has slowed adoption and harmed consumer interest, but Apple’s the kind of company with the clout to really force the industry’s hand and sort this mess out. As such, we’re quite looking forward to seeing whether or not this NFC support is confirmed on September 9, or if we’ll be looking at another year of iPhone NFC rumors ahead of us.


31 באוגוסט 2014
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אפל תערוך אירוע השקה מיוחד ב-9 בספטמבר

לפי הערכות, במסגרת האירוע עתידה החברה לחשוף דגמי אייפון חדשים, ואולי אפילו מוצר מחשוב לביש: "הלוואי שהיינו יכולים להגיד יותר"

עומר כביר כלכליסט

עכשיו זה רשמי: אפל תערוך ב-9 בספטמבר אירוע השקה מיוחד. לפי הערכות, במסגרת האירוע עתידה החברה לחשוף דגמי אייפון חדשים, ואולי אפילו מוצר מחשוב לביש.

ענקית הטכנולוגיה שלחה הערב לעיתונאים הזמנות לאירוע שמתעדת החברה לערוך ביום שלישי בעוד פחות משבועיים. כמיטב המסורת, ההזמנה קריפטית ולא חושפת הרבה על התכנים הצפויים באירוע: פרט לתאריך וללוגו החברה ברקע ההזמנה מופיע בה רק הכיתוב "הלוואי שהיינו יכולים להגיד יותר" (אמירה קצת מגוחכת, כי הרי אפל יכולה להגיד מה שהיא רוצה – אין חוק שמונע ממנה לחשוף את המתוכנן באירוע כבר עכשיו. כיתוב מדויק יותר היה "אנחנו רוצים ליצור מתח ובאזז אדירים ולכן לא נספר לכם כלום בשלב זה, כדי לתדלק מסכת שמועות והערכות מטורפת").

ההזמנה לאירוע ב-9 בספטמבר

לפי הערכות, החברה עתידה לחשוף באירוע שני דגמי אייפון חדשים, בגודל 4.7 אינץ' ו-5.5 אינץ', שיכללו שידרוגי חומרה מתבקשים כמו מעבד מהיר וסוללה חזקה יותר, שילוב של שבב NFC ושינוי עיצוב משמעותי.

בנוסף, כפי שדיווח אתמול בלילה אתר חדשות הטכנולוגיה re/code, אפל עתידה גם לחשוף באירועה מוצר מחשוב לביש חדש, מהלך שיהווה את השקת קטגוריית המוצרה החדש שלה, לראשונה מאז חשיפת האייפד ב-2010 ומותו של סטיב ג'ובס ב-2011. לא הרבה ידוע על מוצר זה, ואולם מרבית ההערכות מדברות של שעון חכם שזוכה בשלב זה לכינוי iWatch.

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13 במאי 2014
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Fidesmo unveils NFC ticketing service that stores multiple transit passes on one contactless card

By  NFCWorld

Updating the all-in-one Fidesmo transport card using an NFC-enabled mobile phone

Swedish startup Fidesmo has developed a service that lets NFC phone owners replace multiple, physical transport passes with a single contactless card.

New funds can be added to each service operator’s “card” on the go using a Fidesmo mobile app — eliminating the need to visit a physical agent to top up their balance and solving “the pain point of communicating with a contactless card after issuance”.

Using Fidesmo, cards from participating service operators are downloaded over the air to the user’s phone and then transferred on to the Fidesmo contactless card by touching it to the phone. The balance on each operator card can then be updated when new funds are purchased via the app, again by simply touching the Fidesmo contactless card to the phone.

When travelling, the Fidesmo app allows the user to select the correct card for the operator of the transportation service they will be using and then touch their contactless card to the operator’s reader in the usual way.

“The data is never really stored in the phone, but just passes through the phone to the card, so the communication is actually from the card all the way to the back end,” Fidesmo CEO Mattias Eld — a former TSM product manager at Ericsson — explains to NFC World+.

“The card for the correct operator is selected once and then stays selected until a new card is selected. So, if you are in the same city, you don’t need to reselect using your mobile phone all the time, you just do it once.

“When you actually use the card on board public transport, or whatever you use it for, the phone is not involved at all. The phone is only involved when you download the credentials to the card and you download those using NFC.

“If you compare it to what you can do today with mobile phones and buying tickets, it is not that easy to buy tickets with the phone. With this, you will be able to do it instantaneously and you can use the system straight away, without having to wait for input from the mobile network operators.”

Eld says he is not convinced people will want to “point their mobile phones at everything”, adding the card format is the one that most people feel comfortable using.

“People are used to using a card and, for some situations, I think the card is the most suited form factor that we have had for quite some time now and we have gotten used to it, so it makes more sense to use it. In many cases, it just makes sense to have your credentials stored somewhere else other than on your phone.

“The fact that people are comfortable with using cards already is a very important part of it. This is what people are using now and we are just making it a little bit easier to buy tickets, but the way you use it is exactly the same. It is a very minimal change but a step in the right direction; a very convenient direction.”

Fidesmo envisages a wide, and global, range of uses for their card, with cafe loyalty cards seen as a good fit alongside ticketing. Open APIs for developers are now open to allow them to build new services.

A video produced by Fidesmo shows how the service can be used to improve the customer experience:

“We expect to have the first live installation during this year,” Eld says. “We think that this can be a global service and we have a global ambition. For developers to sign up, they can be global. They can sign up anywhere, we can sell the card anywhere. Anyone can buy our card and start using it — there are no country restrictions on that.”


13 במאי 2014
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OMsignal launches biometric clothing that tracks the wearer’s health and fitness with BLE

By  NFCWorld

Sensors built into the shirt communicate with the user's phone via a Bluetooth 'little black box'

A Canadian startup has introduced a range of smart sports shirts that monitor the wearer’s heart rate, breathing and movement and then use Bluetooth LE to send the collected data to their smartphone for real time analysis.

OMsignal’s OM Biometric Smartwear range comprises four form-fitting compression shirts that work in conjunction with a mobile app and a Bluetooth “little black box” that is clipped on and off each garment as required.

Each shirt includes a range of health sensors that have been embedded into the fabric. “The sensors are knitted close to the heart to capture a robust electrocardiogram (ECG) reading, which deliver heart rate (BPM) and heart rate variability (HRV), providing the most accurate method of calculating the number of calories you burn and your physiological stress-level,” the company says. “Additionally, sensors on the chest measure respiration rate and balance as well as track activity levels through an accelerometer.”

“OM shirts monitor your activity, physiological stress and fitness levels, giving you total control over your fitness and everyday performance,” the team says. “Each of the four shirts include health sensors embedded into the fabric that measure your biometric data in real-time and relay this information to your personal dashboard on the Omsignal app.

“The OM app translates the users’ unique bio-signal into personal actionable insights. The Omsignal shirts can tell you what’s up with your body so you can improve how you manage your health, gain actionable insight and meet your fitness goals.”

“Each style tracks your body’s most important biometric data and vital signs including heart rate, breathing rate, breathing volume, movement (including steps and cadence), movement intensity, heart rate variability and calories burned. Omsignal shirts also offer sports-specific data such as effort expended and breathing rate, heart rate zone tracking and heart rate recovery.”

“Information is immediately relayed from the shirt through the little black box to the phone via Bluetooth. The little black box is clipped onto the shirt and ensures that all data is immediately available in the Omsignal iOS app, as long as the phone is in Bluetooth range.

“The data within the Omsignal app is private to you, helps you track your progress and gives you real-time feedback, actionable insights and regular health summary and fitness email reports of your progress.”

The four shirts are available to pre-order for shipping “in the summer of 2014″ with prices starting at US$79 plus a one-off US$119 cost for the Bluetooth black box.


13 במאי 2014
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UK shopping centre runs multi-retailer NFC marketing pilot

By  NFCWorld

Solihull's Touchwood shopping mall has a multi-retailer NFC-based marketing programme

A shopping centre in Solihull, UK is piloting a service that lets shoppers access discounts and promotions from multiple retailers by tapping their phone against NFC-enabled posters displayed in the windows of participating stores.

Merchants participating in The Touchwood Centre’s pilot include The Fragrance ShopRitualsHotel ChocolatBella ItaliaCoast to Coast and Slug and Lettuce.

When a shopper reads one of the vinyl posters with an NFC phone, they are directed to a mobile-optimised landing page that provides details of an offer available from that merchant that can be redeemed in-store. The process of redeeming the offers will be managed by each individual retailer, Touchwood says.

“At Touchwood, we recognise the importance of continually enhancing our guest experience to provide both added value to our loyal customer base and offer exciting reasons for new shoppers to visit the centre,” says Lucy Burnett, the mall’s marketing manager.

“Our NFC campaign not only enables us to provide a unique shopping experience for our guests utilising the technology already in their pocket, but it also highlights the breadth of brands we have in centre. We’re confident that the initiative will prove very popular and look forward to developing the campaign further going forward.”


13 במאי 2014
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Brightwire: Apple signs mobile payments deal with China UnionPay

By  NFCWorld

“Apple is likely to incorporate a near field communication (NFC) payment function in the next generation iPhone and has reached an agreement with China UnionPay on a mobile payment service,” investment newswire Brightwire reports, citing “a source close to the matter”.

“Under the deal with China UnionPay, users would be able to download the bank card organization’s app to Passbook in their iPhones and make mobile payments on over three million China UnionPay ‘QuickPass’ POS machines in China,” Brightwire says.

“Currently China UnionPay is developing a system that follows its PBOC QuickPass standard which is compatible with Apple’s iOS. Major Chinese banks have been invited to participate in the project.”


13 במאי 2014
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nTrust pilots Bluetooth payments in Canada

By  NFCWorld

nTrust Estimote payment app

Canadian payments and money transfer provider nTrust has begun piloting a new mobile payments service that uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons placed in stores to make wireless purchases.

nTrust is using hardware from Estimote for the pilot. “Estimote Beacons use Bluetooth Smart technology to transmit context and micro-location data to smartphones within range — allowing nTrust members the ability to locate merchants using the nTrust app,” the company said.

“For iPhone users, we use iBeacon technology to determine the iOS device’s proximity to the Estimote Beacons located at the merchant.

“Once a merchant is located, the app allows nTrust members to make wireless purchases using a secure connection to the nTrust servers, via Wifi or cellular. Merchants simply send a request to the member for the amount owed, and the member pays for the item from the funds in their nTrust account in real time — eliminating the need for physical credit cards at the consumer’s end and card readers on the merchant side.”

nTrust chief experience officer Rod Hsu explained to NFC World+ that the interaction between the consumer and the merchant “all happens within the nTrust infrastructure at that point”.

“We know the customer, we know who the merchant is. It is instantaneous because it is all housed within the nTrust infrastructure. It is low integration in terms of the Estimote Beacons themselves, because we can place them anywhere merchants wish,” he added.

“When they become an nTrust merchant, we provide them with, and register, the particular beacons. It doesn’t integrate directly with the current POS systems; when we do the onboarding process, a merchant would opt to get a merchant cloud wallet and all the interactions happen there, so it is an alternative type of system.

“We are piloting with a couple of small micro-businesses that are very keen and interested in using this system.”

Merchants are set up with a complimentary Estimote Beacon and are charged processing fees of 1% — and nTrust will donate 25% of integrated merchant fees to a local charity of the merchant’s customers’ choice. Merchants can also use the platform to push offers to customers when they come within range of their store, while consumers can get a free nTrust Cloud Money Prepaid MasterCard they can use to make payments at any MasterCard merchant.

“nTrust has purchased the beacons and it is basically a cost to us,” added Mr Hsu. “We don’t translate that back down to the merchants. It is basically a benefit to the merchant for onboarding with nTrust.”