PayPal Mobile: Buy Stuff From Your Phone

PayPal Mobile: Buy Stuff From Your PhonePayPal has announced that it’s wading into the world of mobile payments with the announcement of a new texting service, PayPal Mobile.

PayPal Mobile will let users send money, purchase items or donate to charities from their mobile devices and the Text to Buy service wil let impatient shippers grab goods by sending product codes via text message – so long as both buyer and seller are in the same country.

The eBay owned outfit will be launching the new service in the UK, Canada and the US over the course of the month, and any PayPal user who’s registered their mobile through their online account will be able to use the service.

The system uses ‘short codes’ – these are the five digit numbers you see on TV when you’re being invited to enter a competition or vote some ghastly E-list celeb off some equally ghastly reality show.

“With the overwhelming popularity of mobile phones, the time has never been better for the merging of ecommerce and wireless devices,” trumpeted PayPal President Jeff Jordan.

PayPal Mobile: Buy Stuff From Your Phone“PayPal already has more than 100 million accounts worldwide, and our customers have already entrusted their personal and financial information to PayPal. Now, making payments is as easy as sending a text message anytime, from anywhere for the millions of customers that prefer to use PayPal,” he continued, with a worrying amount of enthusiasm.

A company signed up to PayPal Mobile can place product codes on items for sales along with PayPal’s short code phone number. These can appear on their websites, on ebay or in magazines and TV ads.

Punters suitably salivated by the product and ready to get buying can then text the product code to PayPal to pay for their item.

Person to person
For cash transactions between people, users have to input the amount of money (don’t do this when drunk, folks!) and then add the recipient’s mobile number to the PayPal short code.

PayPal Mobile: Buy Stuff From Your PhoneAn automated system reads the received text and then calls the PayPal user back and prompts them to enter their PIN.

PayPal Mobile payments are backed by PayPal’s fraud prevention system and the system ensures that financial information is never shared with the recipient.

With financial information being stored on PayPal’s secure servers, and not on the phones themselves, the user’s PayPal account should remain secure even if the phone is ‘alf-inched.

Paypal Mobile Aims to Shakeup Music Downloads

EasyMusicCheaper legal download sites will shake up the online music industry, according to Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

Last month Haji-Ioannou launched his download site, in collaboration with online music service Wippit, and predicts that cost-efficient digital downloads will take over from CDs.

He told the BBC World Service’s The Music Biz programme: “There were people who said when I started Easyjet that £29 ($54, €42) would ruin the airline industry. Far from it – it has made some companies less profitable, but it has forced them to compete, and therefore become leaner and more competitive.”

The site includes tracks from more than 200 labels, including Universal, Warner, BMG, Sony and EMI, with single downloads starting at 25p, ($0.47, €0.36) and UK users can also pay by SMS.

It also plans to includes downloads on a ‘copyleft’ – the opposite of copyright – basis, giving downloaders access to new music for free.

But is just one of number of new legal download sites launched in the last 12 months to take on market leaders such as

According to figures from recording industry association IFPI, legal music sites quadrupled to over 230 in 2004, and the available music catalogue has doubled in 12 months to 1 million songs.
And while IFPI chairman and chief executive John Kennedy may say it is now the “priority” of the record industry to licence music “to as many services, for as many consumers, on as many formats and devices for use in as many places and countries as it can”, music sites may struggle to cut the cost of downloads unless they can persuade the record companies to cut back on their margins.

And of course many consumers still prefer to get their music for free – IFPI calculates there are 870 million pirate tracks on the Internet.

Music Download Giant Napster Considers Film Service

napster provide filmNapster, one of the largest players in music downloads, is considering offering a film download service. The new service would sit alongside its music offering and help to give the company a competitive edge over its rivals. The technology is already in place to download movies, so the same service model could easily apply to films, television programmes and video games, now that broadband connection speeds are getting faster and more prevalent.

In a move targeted at the younger video-game generation, Napster won’t be the first company to enter the legal movie download market. In the US, MovieLink and CinemaNow are already offering a service to a growing customer base in America. Films on these sites start at around $2.99 (£1.59 Euro 2.29). However, similar to the music industry five years ago, the film industry is struggling to keep piracy at bay with technologies that allow movies to be downloaded quickly and in full to users with high-speed Internet connections. The Motion Picture Association of America has already filed lawsuits against pirates and is cracking down on distribution networks such as eDonkey and BitTorrent.

Regardless, legal film downloads will be a winner and are the future – just like audio downloads. Since broadband, film downloads have surged considerably, and around one in four people online have now downloaded a film, according to the MPAA. Such statistics have encouraged Napster and others to keep an eye on the market.

Since Christmas, Napster UK has reduced the price of its entire music catalogue of over 1 million tracks by 20 per cent. In response to record sales, the more aggressive pricing strategy will mean that full albums now cost £7.95 (US$14.89 Euro 11.43), while individual tracks cost 79p (US$1.48 Euro 1.14) when bought by Napster subscribers or purchased with Napster Pre-Paid Cards and Online Music Vouchers. Pricing for movies has yet to be announced, but it’s obvious they’ll have to be a lot cheaper than the latest DVDs for the service to takeoff.

Napster – UK
Napster – USA

Google File Pay Model Retrieval Patent

We’ve been slightly slow on the uptake of this one – Susan Kuchinskas at InternetNews has picked up a US patent filing by Larry Page, co-founder of Google, and it makes interesting reading.

Google News is great for users – we’ve been a news source of theirs for a considerable amount of time and often use its search facilities for research. For Google it’s less great, as they’ve yet to find a way to make money out of it – thank goodness they took the automation path, by throwing tech at it, not people.

The patent, 20040122811, titled “Method for searching media” was originally filed in September 2003 and its core function is summarised by Susan,

to enable search of printed material, offer pay-per-view documents, scanned documents with clickable ads and even the ability for print publishers to swap out ads in digital copies of their printed pages.

There are two key elements of the patent: a method for executing a permission protocol so that the publisher could authorize Google to display more text from the relevant publication; and storing scanned versions of printed documents along with data sets representing the ads that went with them.

It’s not just online text that is covered. CDs, DVDs, audio books, hard copy magazines, newspapers and journals could all be included.

So how could Google make money from this? We find the most interesting idea the ability for them to act as the gateway to the content, charging a predetermined fee for access to the information that they would share with the publisher. Micropayment systems like BitPass and BT Click&Buy have been providing the charging mechanism to information publishers for a long time, and to a lesser degree, the ability to locate information you might be interested in. Google already own the search side, the additional income they could gain for collecting payments for content could be considerable.

Susan covers the innovative ways potential income from the advertising could be raised,

The patent claims a method for updating advertisement information for the printed documents. For example, it would allow the publisher of a hot news story to resell the ad space to a rotating series of advertisers or let advertisers keep the ad but update prices and product information. One of the claims, covers storing information about products in the ads. This might allow the advertiser to create a special landing page associated with the ad, working like a Web banner ad.

Internet News
BT Click&Buy

Micropayments to be $60Bn by 2015 in Says Gartner

Gartner and many in the micropayment world, want companies to engage Zen-like, in a shift of consciousness regarding how their products and services are sold.

For those who don’t keep an eye on such things, a micro purchase is something you buy online for less than $5 by subscription, on-the-spot, invoiced or prepaid. “Apple’s iTunes music store was originally conceived as a driver for iPod sales, but it has become a shining example of how small electronic purchases can actually become a major revenue-driver for an entire company,” said Jackie Fenn, vice president and fellow at Gartner.

Gartner puts the acceleration down to three intersecting trends – the rise of networks making it easier for PC-based buyers and sellers to locate each other, the low cost of transactions handled electronically, and lastly, the increased usage and sophistication of automatic location identification for targeted content and services.

“Online marketplaces that gain critical mass, such as eBay and Craigslist, already provide an infrastructure to link buyers and sellers cost effectively” said Ms. Fenn at the Symposium. “In the same way that eBay makes it economical for a person in Boston to locate and buy a $10 teapot from another state or country, the emerging mobile delivery and payment infrastructure will provide a framework for buyers and sellers to connect for new types of micro services.”

It behoves organisations then to identify if they can leverage mobile and micro payment processes to economically deliver or consume services delivered in much smaller units.  And the infrastructure for doing this – micro payment systems, mobile connectivity, m-commerce on wireless networks, authentication, and more-granular products and services are becoming more and more firmly entrenched in the world of electronic business.

Zillions of people making tiny purchases would seem to be more significant from a global economics perspective, than millions of people making very large purchases. Micro commerce may be augmenting the revolution of the small spending masses, quietly sitting in front of their PCs in living rooms all over the world.