Exploring the Future of Money, Banking and Philanthropy

Archive for October, 2011

Facebook begins testing Facebook Credits for websites | ZDNet

Facebook has started working with a few developers to test the ability of using Facebook Credits on other websites. Palo Alto says the goal of Facebook Credits for websites is to let developers offer a more unified app experience beyond Facebook apps.Facebook is not yet sure if it will expand the test more broadly. If demand for the virtual currency is high and the user experience is deemed solid, the company could one day allow all websites to process payments for virtual goods using Facebook Credits.There is just one early example of the new system: GameHouse’s Collapse! Blast.

If you are a developer interested in Facebook Credits for websites, you can sign up at the Facebook Credits Developer Support Form by choosing the fifth category from the list.“At this time, we are focused on gathering early developer feedback,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We will keep you posted as our tests continue.”In related news, Facebook has added new payment methods for Facebook Credits. Some of the recent additions include: Axeso5 Brazil, Join Card Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia OBT Malaysia, MEPS FPX Malaysia, MEPSCASH Malaysia, PayEasy Philippines, PaysBuy Thailand, SafetyPay Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Spain, Austria, Brazil, and WebCash Malaysia.

The social networking giant now supports over 80 payment methods in more than 50 countries around the world.Facebook Credits launched as an alpha in May 2009. The beta stage started in February 2010 and ended with a final version in January 2011. As of July 2011, all Facebook game developers are required to only process payments through Facebook Credits. It is not yet? a mandatory payment option for Facebook apps. Earlier this month, Facebook Credits became available as a payment option to mobile app developers.

Facebook takes a 30 percent cut of all revenue earned through Facebook Credits, leaving developers with the remaining 70 percent. It’s not clear how much revenue the company makes from the virtual currency, but it appears to be a growing percentage of its overall revenue. It could be massive if Facebook Credits for websites takes off.

via Facebook begins testing Facebook Credits for websites | ZDNet.

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Are Facebook ID Cards In Our Future? | TechCrunch

Facebook has filed for a trademark on the usage of “Facebook” on business cards and, more curiously, “non-magnetically encoded” ID cards among other things. If granted the trademark would protect using the word Facebook in the specified formats, not any actual invention.

So what if Facebook just wants to stop people from making fake Facebook business cards? Well, it seems like this trademark would cover that and a whole lot more including “business card and identity card design services,” “printing services” and the ominous, “facilitating social and business networking through the provision of data for use on its own business and identity cards.”

It also looks like the trademark would cover QR code and NFC/RFID uses — which work through magnetic induction, NOT the aforementioned magnetic encoding — much like the Presence cards and photobooths that allowed you to upload and tag photos at F8 (see left).

It’s easy to envision some sort of master Facebook plan where Facebook would give users a cheap physical ID that could be read by smart readers and used for a variety of practical purposes. When asked, people familiar with the Facebook matter had no clue as to whether this was actually in the works. It’s also unclear how often companies like Facebook trademark something and then don’t actually take advantage of the trademark.

If Facebook were to develop some sort of physical ID system, it would be great for marketing and extremely practical; Imagine going to concerts or movies, buying tickets through Facebook and swiping through a key fob ID card.

So will Facebook play a larger role in how we manage in our offline identity in the future? Well the idea is not so far-fetched — After all, Facebook is already most dominant identity system on the Internet.

via Are Facebook ID Cards In Our Future? | TechCrunch.

New Models Destroying Old Ones, The Finance Sector is Next | Grow VC > Blog

There are sev­eral early phase com­pa­nies in the finance sec­tor that develop the new web 2.0 era or what­ever the right name is. Why can’t it be as easy as with Pay­Pal to open a bank account and trans­fer money? Why don’t we have a lot of direct invest­ment mar­kets on the Inter­net with­out high man­age­ment fees? Why couldn’t we build an invest­ment group online with our friends and work like an e-fund and diver­sify our investments?

Often the answer is, because the reg­u­la­tors and incum­bent finance com­pa­nies want to keep the old mod­els and pro­tect them. They say it is bet­ter and safer for ordi­nary peo­ple; they don’t trust that ordi­nary peo­ple actu­ally can be respon­si­ble or smart. It was the same before the French rev­o­lu­tion, the estab­lish­ment saw democ­racy as dan­ger­ous when ordi­nary peo­ple could not be trusted to make the right deci­sions. IBM didn’t believe ordi­nary peo­ple would ever need a com­puter, they thought a few com­put­ers for pro­fes­sion­als is enough. And avi­a­tion author­i­ties sup­ported local monop­o­lies and stated that state-owned-airlines offer enough options and are safer.We are now start­ing to see this change com­ing to the finance sec­tor. The tra­di­tional finance sec­tor is really strug­gling. Yet it is not only about money, it is also about how peo­ple per­ceive banks, funds and finance con­sul­tants. Peo­ple are los­ing their trust. Crowd fund­ing plays a part in this devel­op­ment. The foun­da­tion is con­stantly being built, but the rev­o­lu­tion doesn’t hap­pen over night. We as a com­mu­nity, have got a good start and step by step also reg­u­la­tors and tra­di­tional finance com­pa­nies start to under­stand our jour­ney. It is impor­tant to develop the startup fund­ing mar­ket to work well. But at the same time, it is as impor­tant that the invest­ment mar­ket works well.

via New Models Destroying Old Ones, The Finance Sector is Next | Grow VC > Blog.

A MaaSS* Movement *Money as a Software Service

Mission Statement:  To be the world’s foremost provider of privately created money and money substitute systems and the facilitator of exchange within and between those systems … all in the interest of economic revitalization and public good.

Objectives:

1. Democratize and Decentralize the Power to Create Money

2. Leverage the Power of Doing Good

3. Create a MaaSS* Movement of Economic Democracy

* Money as a Software Service

In Brazil, Towns Cash In With Their Own Currencies – WSJ.com

SILVA JARDIM, Brazil—After school and on weekends, Carlos Leandro Peixoto de Abril sells ice cream made by his grandmother from a stoop alongside the familys cinder-block home.Instead of Brazilian reais, though, the 11-year-old prefers payment in capivaris—a local currency emblazoned with the face of a giant rodent. Bills in hand, Carlos then heads to a local grocer and buys ingredients, at a special discount, for another batch of grandmas goods.The capivari circulates only in this dusty, agricultural town 60 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. The money is an effort by the town, one of the poorest in southeastern Brazil, to encourage its 23,000 residents to spend locally.Cash, Credit, or Capivaris?

The capivari is one of 63 local moneys now circulating in needy towns and neighborhoods throughout Brazil.View SlideshowDiego CamposLocals exchange capivari bills, emblazoned with the face of a giant rodent.Ten months after introduction of the capivari—named after the capybara, a pig-sized rodent common in a local river—the currency is lifting fortunes of local retailers and gnawing holes in the pockets of consumers. Capivaris pay for everything from haircuts to restaurant tabs to tithing at churches.

The mayor even has plans to open a “Capivari Megastore,” where local artisans and growers can showcase wares.The capivari is one of 63 local moneys—including bills named after the sun, cactus and the Brazil nut—now circulating in needy neighborhoods throughout Latin Americas biggest economy. The idea is gaining currency as towns seek a share of current economic growth. This month, a new local currency hit the streets in Cidade de Deus, the Rio slum that was the subject of a blockbuster film and a stop on President Barack Obamas South American tour this year.While equal in value to the real, local currencies gain traction because local merchants offer discounts when using them.

No one is forced to quit the real, but shopkeepers say greater volumes make the markdown worthwhile.”It brings customers through the door,” said Roseanne Augusto, manager of a Silva Jardim hardware store, where a builder one recent afternoon set aside 2,700 reais in supplies, about $1,520 worth. He then left the store, went to trade reais, and returned to pay with capivaris, saving 5%.

Capivaris are managed by a new, community-run Capivari Bank. Inside its one office, a brightly painted space the size of a small fast-food joint, are the banks employees, three women in their 20s.For each of the 50,000 capivaris first circulated, Capivari Bank holds an equal number of reais on deposit at a traditional bank. Tatiana da Costa Pereira, the bank manager, says she sees as many as 60 clients a day. A local police car patrols outside and a state policeman comes in regularly.The currency has been so successful the town ordered a second run of the notes, which bear serial numbers, watermarks and a hologram alongside the whiskered varmint.

via In Brazil, Towns Cash In With Their Own Currencies – WSJ.com.

No Plastic Needed: Consumers and the Future of Mobile Payments

Should Consumers Hop on the Mobile Bandwagon?

Early adopters will be getting in line for Google Wallet and carrier-led rival mobile payment platform Isis. But the average consumer might not be far behind. Its not just convenient and the high-tech cool to “touch-and-go” pay with your phone.

Mobile payments have practical, valuable benefits that may compel everyday consumers to toss their trifold for a mobile wallet.Interaction with your spending — With the average consumer facing $6,285 in credit card debt, according to CreditKarma.com, mobile wallets can take on a sort of “financial conscience” to curb debt and encourage financial responsibility. Interaction with a digital interface, rather than a flat plastic card, opens the door to integrated apps and services for budgeting and real-time account tracking.

For example, MasterCards mobile payment app has built-in money management features such as options to set spending limits and alerts, approve or block purchases in a category, and enable overseas activity. While some credit cards offer activity monitoring online, mobile payments are real-time and preemptive. A spending alert popping up before you make a payment on your phone is harder to ignore than a credit card statement at the end of the month.Integrated shopping opportunities —

To really push adoption, mobile payments cant rely on contactless payments alone. Smartphones cant just be bulkier, digital credit cards. The beauty of mobile payments is its intersection with mobile commerce. Take Google Wallets “integrated experience” that combines deals, location-specific advertising, as well as payments.

Value-added services for both consumers and merchants are the real staying power for mobile payments. For consumers, that means targeted offers and discounts, inventory searches and shopping solutions like hyper-local deals. For merchants, theres potential for customer tracking, purchasing data, and cost-effective advertising. Mobile payments arent just a way to spend your money; it converges ways to save money, track money and shop differently.

Convenience when you shop — As we log hundreds of face-to-screen hours daily and carry cellphones everywhere, mobile payments goes beyond consolidating accessories. Mobile payment platforms remove the physical limitations on where you can pay, how you pay, and to whom. Mobile payments streamline payments, making them faster at checkout through easy payment transfers such as Near Field Communications NFC technology. Across the five main types of mobile payments, the dominant payment trends will be the ones that allow consumers to make the easiest payments wherever they are, which is increasingly not in a physical store or with cash or credit card in hand.

Better security — 1 in 10 U.S. consumers is a victim of identity theft, reports Javelin Strategy & Research. Mobile payments can help stymie these numbers with improved security over traditional credit cards thanks to two-factor authentication, meaning youll need your phone as well as a PIN number in order to complete a transaction. Credit cards have one-factor authentication, in which you only need the card at point of sale, swipe, and the transaction is complete. Security measures for mobile payments will likely improve in leaps and bounds, especially under pressure from regulators and consumer watchdogs. For example, Google Wallet fortified its security measures by storing credit card data on a computer chip in the phones hardware, isolated from the phones hacker-vulnerable operating system software. Plus, smartphones offer apps that remotely lock and erase the phones data in the case of loss. A lost or stolen wallet simply doesnt have the same safeguards as a lost smartphone.

via Justine Rivero: No Plastic Needed: Consumers and the Future of Mobile Payments.

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