Barclays PIN Sentry Disaster

Barclays PIN Sentry DisasterBarclays Bank have cut off some of their business customers from making payments to new suppliers, by forcing them to use PIN Sentry hardware that they don’t yet have.

The PIN Sentry is Barclays attempt to stop their customers accounts being hacked and having payment sent to fraudulent accounts. Something that would appear to be a good idea … if their current customers had the device in their hands and were able to use it.
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Barclaycard’s OnePulse Credit Card Offers Oyster Functionality

Barclaycard's OnePulse Credit Card Offers Oyster FunctionalityBarclaycard has released details of its new multi-purpose credit card that combines Oyster smartcard, credit and contactless functionalities.

Expected to be launched across London this September, the three-in-one “OnePulse” card will be the first UK credit card to pack Transport for London (TfL) Oyster contactless travel pass technology, giving the capital’s commuters one less card to lug about.
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Mobile J/Speedy: NFC Payments Hits Amsterdam

Mobile J/Speedy: NFC Payments Hits AmsterdamAn NFC payment system is on trial in Amsterdam allowing people taking part to make purchases using their mobile phone.

We’re massive fans of NFC (Near Field Communications) and have been for close to two years. We see it as a significant way to enhance the function of your mobile phone (primarily), as well as a new way of getting content to your phone.

Eight companies are getting together for the latest trial, this time lead by Japanese credit card giant JCB and marks Europe’s first contactless international credit payment scheme using a Nokia 3220 with an NFC chip.

Selected JCB cardholders are provided with a mobile phone by Nokia, which are equipped with an NFC chip, developed by NXP and loaded with the JCB payment application developed by Gemalto.

The first transaction of the pilot was conducted at Sushi Time, the Japanese sushi restaurant in the World Trade Center in Amsterdam.

At selected PaySquare merchants, cardholders can securely purchase items by just holding their mobile phone close to ViVOtech’s contactless NFC reader/writer, which is attached to the payment terminal of CCV.

Mobile J/Speedy: NFC Payments Hits AmsterdamApproximately 100 selected JCB cardholders are now enjoying fast, easy, and convenient payments with Mobile J/Speedy at selected merchants, where they used to pay by cash.

Although it has only been one month since the trial was launched, the increasing number of repeat usage indicates a strong acceptance of the technology and a very successful pilot.

“Feedback from the first users of Mobile J/Speedy has been very encouraging and we are pleased to now be able to involve a wider group of customers,” said Hajime Matsuura, branch manager of JCB International’s Amsterdam branch.

The first European NFC-based public transport ticketing trials took place within the local bus network in the city of Hanau, near Frankfurt, Germany in 2005.

Expect plenty more news on NFC trials.

Online Banking In The UK Leaves Customers Short-Changed

Online Banking In The UK Leaves Customers Short-ChangedUK banks may be gleefully reporting big fat profits every quarter, but new research from eService provider Transversal claims that online customer service from Britain’s banks has sunk to an all time low.

Their study found that fifty per cent of the major banks surveyed were so rubbish that they were unable to answer a single one of ten basic customer questions asked via their websites (these questions were based on typical customer enquiries about credit card offers, borrowing and mortgages etc).

A minority of banks, however, achieved excellent results, revealing the growing gulf between the best and worst performing banks.

Taken as a whole, the sector registered a lamentable average of 2.5 out of ten, managing to answer just 25 per cent of common questions.

Although this looks like an utterly abysmal score, things have actually got worse over the past year, with only two banks scoring nul points in 2005, and the sector mustering up a mighty average of three questions answered.

Despite 56 per cent of Brits now using online banking, these results suggest that banks are more interested in increasing profits by closing down High Street stores than serving their customers, with further cost-cutting measures seeing call centres shunted offshore into unknown foreign lands, often increasing customers’ frustration.

No email contacts for customers
As if to wind up their customers further, sixty per cent of bank websites didn’t allow consumers to contact them via email, forcing them to ring up and face the horrors of ‘on hold’ phone music.

Online Banking In The UK Leaves Customers Short-ChangedOf the forty per cent that bothered to provide an email address, there was clearly no rush to answer their customers’ questions, with the banks taking a leisurely average of 22 hours to respond.

The fastest response was a still-casual 8 hours – a whole working day – while the slowest was a massive 69 hours: enough time, the report noted, for the beleaguered customer to hop on a plane and travel to the offshore centre to ask the question personally.

The study also noted that only half of the major banks troubled themselves to provide a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page, and in many cases these were lurking in dark corners of the site, and not clearly marked for users.

A summary of the overall 2006 average banking results is as follows:

Average number of questions answered online: 2.5 out of 10 (2005 findings: 3)
Percentage of companies that responded to email correctly: 40% (2005 findings: 55%
Average email response time: 22 hours (2005 findings: 17 hours)
Percentage with customer FAQ pages: 50% (2005 findings: 60%)
Percentage with customer search: 60% (2005 findings: 40%)


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

Brits Love Online Banking As Alliance & Leicester Introduce New Security

Brits Love Online Banking As Alliance & Leicester Introduce New SecurityAlmost 60 per cent of Britons rely on the Internet to do their banking, according to new research commissioned by the Alliance and Leicester bank.

Surveying around 2,400 people, the study found that just under one-third (29 per cent) use Internet banking between once and twice per week, with just over one in 10 (12 per cent) logging on to their bank everyday

The YouGov survey revealed that there’s been a 63 per cent rise in people managing their bank accounts online since 2003, with balance checks proving the most popular activity (96 per cent) followed by money transfers for payments (76 per cent).

It seems that people still prefer to sort out complex problems by visiting the bank, and of those folks who choose to avoid online banking, over a fifth (21 per cent) said they preferred to deal with people face to face, with 13 per cent expressing concerns about security.

With this in mind, the Alliance & Leicester has announced that it will become the first UK high street bank to give all its customers two-factor authentication technology.

Brits Love Online Banking As Alliance & Leicester Introduce New SecurityDesigned to cut down on identity theft and online fraud, the two-factor authentication compels users to provides two means of identification.

This usually involves something that has been memorised by the user (like a password or special code) along with a physical device that generates random numbers or code.

With this security double whammy, hackers who have managed to capture the first pass code should be unlikely to proceed because the customer then needs to generate a new code to authorise online transactions.

The authentication technology will also be used to prove the authenticity of a bank’s Web site, and this should help clamp down on phishing sites.

The bank hasn’t revealed any further details yet, although it has said that the initiative would be a “simple and robust way” for customers to be confident that “their data online is safe from criminals.”

Brits Love Online Banking As Alliance & Leicester Introduce New SecurityOther banks are also jumping on the security bandwagon, with Barclays running a new chip card reader trial involving 5,000 customers and staff, while Lloyds TSB is close to completing an exhaustive six-month test of a keyring type device.

The trial involved 30,000 UK online customers, with Lloyds TSB declaring itself well chuffed with the initial findings, which produced a healthy 78 per cent adoption rate amongst users.

Around 95 per cent of people using the device said they found it easy to use with the bank claiming a 100 per cent success rate in reduction of fraud among users.

Despite its success, Lloyds said that the current trial was more about testing consumer response to the technology, and it’s more interested in working to meet banking industry group Apacs’ universal security standard that will eventually be used by all banks.

As more banking activity goes online, the face of High Streets looks set to change forever, with the Economic and Social Research Council recently concluding that the rise of Internet and phone banking has led to more branches being closed.

Alliance & Leicester

SmartTrust Provide SIM-based ‘State ID’ To Finland

Mobile phone becomes 'state ID' for FinnsIn an initiative led by the Finnish Population Register (VRK), a department of the Finnish Ministry of the Interior, mobile specialist SmartTrust is helping mobile users in Finland to securely identify themselves and sign for goods and services across a range of public and private sector providers using just their mobile phone.

Since 1999, VRK has been responsible for issuing State Citizen Certificates to Finns, a national ID card driven by the Finnish Government and seen as an important means of identification within an electronic information society. Now, in the advanced mobile market of Finland, the security functionality contained within these cards (based on the EU Directive for electronic signatures) has been incorporated into the SIM card by SmartTrust, turning the mobile phone into a personal trusted device able to remotely authenticate an individual, protect identities and create a legally binding digital ‘signature’. SmartTrust has signed agreements with three Finnish operators, including Elisa, who will issue new SIM cards – containing the State Certificate – to subscribers.

Using the new SIMs in the handset will enable users to access a range of public and private sector services, including electronic banking and government web and mobile services. With their mobile phones, Finns will be able to authenticate themselves when electronically filing tax returns, registering for social security and paying for goods online. Creating a digital signature from the handset may even be used as proof of identity at a physical point of sale.

SmartTrust Provide SIM-based 'State ID' To Finland“The mobile phone and SIM card have, by default, become the world’s most pervasive smart card / card reader combination,” explains Paul Cuss, CEO of SmartTrust. “Unlike the existing credit-card sized ID cards that Finns carry around in their wallets, the SIM-based certificates do not require the user to be present when authenticating himself via an independent card reader. In this instance, the handset acts as the card reader, requesting the user to authenticate himself through a PIN code request, and sends an electronic digital signature to the service provider.”

“Following the example of Finnish banks, commercial service providers and public institutions are moving their services into electronic channels. The mobile citizen certificate will become a secure, user friendly and cost effective tool for consumers when authenticating themselves for electronic services. The mobile citizen certificate will replace service specific user ID´s and passwords and the one time passwords that are used today. Service providers will now benefit from a government guaranteed identity for the person accessing a service.” states Mikko Saarela, Enterprise Director of Elisa.

“Working within EU guidelines, and the Finnish Parliamentary Act on electronic signatures, the SmartTrust solution is built around Public key Infrastructure [an industry standard security protocol]. This means that when a Finn uses his mobile phone to make a payment, place an order or simply register an application with a public service it is legal and binding,” adds Cuss.

With mobile penetration in Finland currently at 90%, the move to embed the state identification onto the phone is a logical step and one that will help to grow the network of available services for consumers. Each of the Finnish mobile operators working within the scheme will coordinate with VRK and the police to manage the authentication of citizens and the issuance of cards.


This article is also available at Digital-Lifestyles chums

Google Wallet Looks To Challenge PayPal

Google Wallet Looks To Challenge PayPalIt’s not yet confirmed, but it appears that Google is preparing to challenge PayPal with its own online electronic payment system, rumoured to be called ‘Google Wallet’.

The Wall Street Journal website reported Google’s plans late Friday, citing sources “familiar” with the company’s plans. No details about Google’s strategy were revealed.

Analysts have commented that a rival Google payment system would prove a mighty bummer to PayPal’s owners, eBay.

In the last quarter, revenue from PayPal amounted to $233.1 million (~£128m, ~€190m), equal to nearly a quarter of eBay’s revenue during the period.

Diversifying into the online payments business looks a wise move for Google who are currently dependent on advertising, accounting for almost all of its first-quarter revenue of $1.26 billion (~£690m, ~€1bn).

Google Wallet Looks To Challenge PayPalSellers who run auctions on eBay are major buyers of Google’s ads, which appear alongside search results, so it’s not surprising to see the company angling in for a slice of the payment action.

Rumours about the new Google service heated up after a panel discussion at a Piper Jaffray Internet conference, where Scot Wingo, chief executive of e-commerce consulting firm Channel Advisor, said he believed the payment service would be launched soon.

According to the story in the Wall Street Journal, Wingo said he based his statement on questions from retailers with which his company works. They’d apparently asked him whether his company would be supporting the “Google Wallet” service, thus sending the cat fleeing from its bag.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Wall Street Journal 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