Retail apps are cool again

I saw an interesting security update this week in NYTimes. Check it out here:

Beware, iPhone Users: Fake Retail Apps Are Surging Before Holidays

Here is the summary – Scammers are realizing that more and more consumers are looking for branded retail apps. They are looking for brands that don’t have an app, create a phishing app for the brand and release it in the wild. The consumer downloads the app and gets their data stolen by these fraudulent apps.

The solution is simple – brands should create/claim their apps ASAP to make sure that scammers are not able to defraud consumers looking to connect with them.

 

Apple down under

Interesting battle brewing in Australia where a consortium of large banks is demanding that Apple open up its limited access to the NFC components on the iPhone in order the level the playing field for other wallets.

Apple is pushing back hard citing security.

As you can imagine the stakes are high and the outcome could have a significant impact world-wide.

Read a great rundown and analysis here: Is the debate over Mobile payments in Australia rotten to the core?

Mobeam – cool scanning tech

Change doesn’t always have to be huge, small changes like improvement in scanning of phones by laser scanners can have huge upside.

Check out this new technology called Mobeam

From a technology perspective, Mobeam enables POS laser scanners to read barcodes on mobile devices. Light-based beaming technology pulses the phone’s proximity sensor LED to emulate the reflection of a barcode, which the laser scanner interprets as “reading” the barcode. Thus, beaming enables a mobile payment app to effectively process all barcoded promotion and non-cash payment types. In many ways beaming is like Bluetooth, NFC or Wi-Fi, a new method of contactless communication between a smartphone and a receiver, in this case, a laser scanner.

Really cool and promising because it enables phones to transmit coupon and payment information to existing hardware – laser scanner. Challenge as always is scale. There are still too few phones (Galaxy only) that have this tech…

Mobile pay – real competition is with the physical wallet

Mobile pay will not get real traction as long as customers have a physical wallet with physical cards. Replacing plastic loyalty cards is a start but to get traction for Mobile pay, vendors should focus on enabling customers to ditch the physical wallet. This means smartphones should handle all my cards like – drivers license, Costco card, insurance cards, YMCA card etc.

Imagine you get stopped by a traffic officer. To show your driver’s license, you open up your iPhone app and tap it/scan it on a tablet the officer has. Officer next asks you for insurance information, you open up your insurance card and tap/scan again. Officers looks at your information and after making sure all is well, hopefully lets you go without a ticket.

A companyddl called MorphoTrust is working on something similar for driver’s license. CNet has a great article on the company.

Now imagine going to the doctor’s office. The receptionist asks you for proof of insurance. You tap/scan your smartphone on a tablet in the office. The receptionist pulls all the information she needs on the tablet and prints out what ever is needed.

Now imagine going to your Gym and again tapping/scanning your smartphone  at the scanner/tablet at the entrance.  The current status of this market is pretty messy – YMCA has over 15 apps for different regions, developed by different agencies.

I believe mobile pay vendors have a huge opportunity to provide thought leadership, technology and security solutions to address a number of these use cases. By addressing these use cases combined with vertical out reach, mobile pay vendors will reduce consumer dependency on physical wallets and drive adoption of mobile payments.

Just Listen

If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words.

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If you are in a business where effective interactions with people is an important part of your success, you should read this book. Mark Goulston, is one of those rare analytical people, who can organize, present and make sense of topic as amorphous as human interactions. “Just Listen” is filled with fun stories and is really easy to read. It is organized in 30, 6-10 page chapters that are dripping with actionable insights.
The book starts with an explanation of the persuasion cycle:

buy-in

The first and the key component is to get people to listen to what you have to say. Mark explains mirror neurons and getting them aligned is key to listening and communicating.

Goulston then talks about 9 core rules that are right on the mark:

1. Move yourself from “oh F#@& to OK”
2. Rewire yourself to listen
3. Make the other person feel “felt”
4. Be more interested than interesting
5. Make people feel valuable
6. Help people to exhale emotionally and mentally
7. Check your dissonance at the door
8. When all seems lost bare your back
9. Steer clear of toxic people

This is followed by a set of useful tools that are powerful individually but if organized and used in situations, can help you deal with tough situations. One of my favorite tools “Power thank you”/”Power apologies”  by itself is worth the price of the book.

Goulston wraps up the book with some great case studies that are fantastic examples of applying the tools in the book. On a personal note, I had a chance to apply these tools in a particularly sticky situation related to when my parents came over from India, for the summer, which setup the classic mother-in-law and wife issues.

“Your mother has an opinion on everything and she likes to share it”, my wife said one night.

A typical red-blooded Indian male would typically get defensive or passive aggressive or feel trapped in this situation but I calmly un-clipped the empathy tool from my tool belt.

“Yeah, she has a lot of opinions”, I started.

“Yeah and she get in the middle of everything. Today she was telling me about how to raise kids, when she does not even understand the personality they have and the environment they are growing up in.”, she continued.

“The other day she was telling me about how to make chicken and she is a vegetarian”, I empathized.

I could see that she was pleasantly startled.  After a few more minutes of this, she exhaled and thanked me for listening.

“I can see that she has a lot of great ideas, but I wish she would just mention them at the right time but again she is visiting after a long time and hasn’t had the context so I should be more patient”,  she concluded.

She said that she feels so much better because she can share her issues with me as I thanked Mr. Goulston for his brilliant work and promptly ordered the rest of his books.

Is this real?

The other day I was telling my kids the story of Gluscabi and the magic game bag – Its a North American Eastern Woodland – Abenaki folktale. Check it out if you haven’t heard it before.

In the story, the mighty Gluscabi captures all the animals of the world in a magic game back to avoid having to hunt every day but upon hearing the environment conservation wisdom from Grandma Woodchuck, of passing on the animal kingdom to his children, he releases all the animals.

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After hearing  the story my 7 year old asked, “Daddy, is this story real?”

I was stumped … for a few seconds.

My purpose in telling this story was to introduce the kids to the value of environmental protection which is a very real issue.

Also given the level of mendacity and hyperbole at play in current political season with whoppers such as the one by Donald Trump – “I will create jobs and the Latinos will have jobs that they don’t have right now. And I will win that vote.” – that seem as made up as the magic game bag, its not clear if truth telling is particularly important for people especially if it undercuts the message.

For the longest time when my 7 year old believed Santa was real, I felt under no obligation to correct her so why start now.

“Its a made up folktale from ancient american indians but the message is real”, I finally replied as the 7 year old drifted to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

Eatsa – Restaurant in San Francisco with no visible staff

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Interesting concept – a little bit too extreme but talks about how people are mis-deployed in a lot of restaurants. Imagine the people behind the register, taking orders, working on providing better care and service to the customers…What do you think the staff behind the register could do if they could instead be available to take care of the customers?

 

Images via: http://www.contemporist.com/2015/09/01/this-new-restaurant-concept-in-san-francisco-has-no-visible-staff/