Testing Mobile Payments
Best Buy and Target, two of America’s largest retailers, have aligned themselves with a a competitor to Apple Pay (and both are closely watching Apple’s mobile-payment system to see how it catches on with consumers). In October 2014, Target became one of the first companies to test a technology known as Current C (created by a group of retailers, the Merchant Customer Exchange-their aim has been to find a simple, safe way for customers to easily make store purchases with their smartphones. But there was some flak when it was revealed that the exchange required its members to not accept other forms of mobile payment. And the exchange system was hacked, with the e-mail addresses of those in the pilot program being compromised).
Apple Pay, launched in October 2014, can be used at a couple of dozen retailers like McDonald’s; there’s been more than 1 million activations within the first few days of its debut. U.S. Bank is another Apple Pay retailer (but Rite Aid and CVS are not; they’re Merchant Customer Exchange members). Target actually straddles both Apple Pay and Merchant technologies; while it’s a member of the Merchant group, it also allows consumers to use Apple Pay for purchases if they’re made on the Target mobile app only (Source: “Target testing mobile payments”-Star Tribune (TNS)-The (Sunday) Vindicator, November 9, 2014).
Making Money from Free Wi-Fi
Alan Jacobson and Jesse Bookspan have created Guestnet, a software and hardware product that intends to make small business owners money for every log-on to the Wi-Fi they offer. “Everyone wants free Internet, but the goal of a business is to make money,” Bookspan said. Guestnet’s primary objective is to post on their landing pages advertising videos that are no longer than 25 seconds. If a customer wants to use the free Wi-Fi, they have to watch an ad first, before being granted access to any website (there may be more ads to watch, depending on how long the customer stays signed on. And there’s the second possibility that the customer may feel guilty, increasing their spending at the business).
After a four-month trial period, Guestnet debuted in late October 2015 at the Coffee Fest trade show in Portland, Ore. Pricing is based on the number of ad views; Guestnet will pay businesses based on log-ons generated: for up to 600 a month, $20; up to 1,200, $30; up to 1,800, $40; up to 2, 400, $50; and more than 2,400, $70 With Bookspan and Jacobson as the only employees (so far), Guestnet operates from a co-working space, providing routers with customized software to its clients for a refundable $200. That ensures the Wi-Fi monetization service is kept separate from the routers the businesses use for their payment systems (and a competitor’s messaging will not appear on a business’s network).
Everyday, there are Wi-Fi log-ons in the hundreds of millions, by a conservative estimate, which means that Guestnet’s potential reach is vast. The challenges including amassing advertising that will be meaningful in a hyperlocal venue, “which is sort of a holy grail for a lot of advertising,” and keeping the costs of building a client base in check, Bookspan said (Source: “Program helps make money off Wi-Fi”-The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)-The (Sunday) Vindicator, December 27, 2015).