Bing and Skype fans have a new reason to rejoice. Microsoft announced today on the official Bing blog that it will be rolling out new rewards for Bing users. Over the next few days, it will be adding Skype Credit to the Bing Rewards redemption center. For 100 Bring Rewards Credits, members can trade them in for up to 60 minutes worth of Skype Credit based on call rates of 2.3 cents per minute for making calls on Skype. With the Skype Credit they can make calls to landlines or mobile phones, send SMS to mobile phones, set up a Skype To Go number or access Skype WiFi though 3rd-party hotspots.In case you’re unfamiliar with Bing Rewards, users basically earn credits by using Bing to perform their searches or trying out new features on the service. With these credits, they can trade them in for different rewards at the Bing Rewards redemption center – it’s basically Microsoft’s incentive program for people to using Bing as their default search engine and more. Definitely a win-win situation for people who already love using Bing anyway. Find out more about Bing Rewards.
Archive for March, 2012
“By 2017, a CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.” —Gartner GroupFor the first time in history, businesses can leverage big data for the benefit of driving marketing insights. We are at the very beginning of this wave, but this fundamental shift will create several multi-billion dollar winners. And a set of technology companies will emerge as the marketing equivalents of Salesforce and SAP.Based on this thesis, my partner Scott Friend founder of Profitlogic and I have been actively investing in this arena on behalf of our firm, Bain Capital Ventures. BloomReach, CQuotient, HookLogic and TellApart are among our recent early-stage investments in this new category of marketing innovation.At the heart of each of these companies are CTOs and engineers who have experience with big data and modern techniques for data mining, analytics and machine learning. These companies typically charge on a performance basis as opposed to charging traditional enterprise software license fees. And they are having a significant impact on their customer’s revenues and profitability.
For the sixth year in a row, pennies and nickels cost more to produce in 2011 than they were worth. While the depreciation of the cent and the increased cost of producing coins is an old story, the U.S. Mint did reach a new milestone last year: For the first time in history, both the five-cent and one-cent denominations cost double their value to produce. This gap resulted in more than $116 million—roughly 11.6 billion pennies—in negative seigniorage. That’s enough change to fill Shamu’s tank at Sea World twice over.
Defenders of loose change might say this is nothing more than a trivial editorial gimmick, meaningless both in a larger economic context and relative to the $488.8 million in positive seigniorage the U.S. Mint earned on other types of coins. Of course, they would be right. But the costs associated with coins and paper money extend far beyond the Mint. It takes money to pay for armored transport and to hire cashiers to balance cash drawers. There are also opportunity costs for consumers in taking trips to the ATM or waiting in line while someone makes change at the grocery store, not to mention the price of all the change you’ve lost in your couch.
Those are just the tangible costs of cash. We also must pay for the social ills caused by a physical currency system: underground criminal economies, tax evasion, environmental damage, counterfeiting. Banks lost $35 million worth of “loot” (the official FBI terminology) during 5,628 bank robberies in 2010, and that does not include insurance costs, medical expenses for 18 injured victims, and the immeasurable value of lost human life. And that’s chump change compared to Uncle Sam’s tax gap over the past decade, which has been estimated at $3 trillion. More than one half that gap is attributable to underreporting of business income and much of that stems from unreported or underreported cash—that great little cash-only Italian place down the block might not be paying its taxes in full.
How would it affect the economy if we ditched coins and bills altogether?
The Currency Cloud has developed a Foreign Exchange FX payments automation platform which supercharges the tired old world of cross-border business payments, aiming to reduce costs for business and make multi-currency payments more frictionless.Why is this interesting? Well, we’re talking about a team from the City of London that built the UBS online FX platform bringing their skills and experience to the combined revolutionary powers of the Cloud and SaaS. Since FX is one of the last great ripoffs in finance, this might actually be a pretty big deal.Obviously Foreign Exchange is a big market to attack. According to the Bank for International Settlements, the average daily turnover in global foreign exchange markets is estimated at over $4 trillion.The startup now has over 100 corporate customers using the company’s SaaS offering and 20+ platform partners using its API. Think Stripe a developer-friendly way to accept payments but geared toward Foreign Exchange and you are close to what The Currency Cloud is.Mike Laven, CEO and veteran of the West Coast tech scene, says “Businesses everywhere need to deal in multi-currencies in every working day. Yet the methods being used are antiquated and expensive to all but the largest corporates and the banks. Our re-design of the industry business model delivers price transparency, risk management and ease of use.”Fred Destin, Partner, Atlas Ventures, says FX remains error-prone, low tech and expensive and think the startup can “take costs out and bring transparency and automation in.” Sean Park, co-founder, Anthemis Group, added: “Selling one currency to buy another should not be that hard. Yet for the millions of companies and individuals doing so today is too often a painful and expensive experience.”It looks like The Currency Cloud is on to something.
Payments Company Jumio Raises $25.5M From Andreessen Horowitz; Will Hit $100M In 2012 Revenue | TechCrunch
Disruptive mobile and online payments startup Jumio has raised $25.5 million in Series B funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. The firm’s General Partner Scott Weiss has joined Jumio’s board of directors. Jumio’s earlier investors include Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin Peng T. Ong, partner at GSR Ventures and founder of Match.com and Vivek Ranadivé, founder of TIBCO. Founded by Daniel Mattes in 2010, Jumio has raised $32 million to date. We previously reported the most recent raise, which was disclosed in an SEC filing, but the new investors were unknown.Mattes, who sold his latest company, Jajah, to Telefonica for $207 million, founded Jumio because he felt that existing online payments solutions both presented a security risk and caused churn, as most people didn’t want to input their credit card and payments details by hand for each transaction made on a phone or online.Jumio’s first product Netswipe, debuted last year in Europe as a technology that allows e-commerce site owners and Internet retailers to process online and mobile payments by having customers ‘swipe’ their credit cards using virtually any webcam. Basically, the webcam uses Jumio’s patent-pending technology to scan and read the card so that the payments can be made.To complete a transaction, consumers briefly hold their credit card in front of their webcam. Through secure videostreaming, the credit card details are recognized and verified: no snapshot image is taken, no data is stored on the computer used for the payment, making the technology extremely secure, explains Mattes. Credit card info is streamed to Jumio’s servers.The benefit to Netswipe is that it minimizes the time between a customer’s decision to purchase something online and making a transaction, cuts down on the friction of entering credit card information and reducing fraud. The technology also comes with a complimentary mobile solution, which works similarly to the web platform. You simply use the phone’s camera to take a short video of the credit card, and the payments data is captured. As Mattes tells us, the main IP for Jumio is centered around computer vision technology that makes the process fast and secure.It’s important to note that Jumio isn’t the only company trying to disrupt credit card scanning technologies. Card.io, a startup that develops mobile applications also capable of scanning credit cards using smartphone cameras. But Jumio aims to tackle both web and mobile payments.In terms of how Jumio makes money, the startup takes a percentage of transaction, which depends on size of merchants. This falls anywhere between 0.8 and 3.5 per transactions, and there is no per transaction fee. For distribution, Jumio will partner directly with large-scale retailers to implement the technology in the payments and checkout process as well as with payments service providers and processors to reach small and medium-sized online businesses.
Straight on the heels of showing off their new mobile payments system, the carriers leading the Isis joint venture have announced new partnerships with payment solutions providers. At Mobile World Congress Isis revealed partnerships with Chase, Capital One and Barclaycard, and it seems we’ll now be adding Verifone, Ingenico, VivoTech, and Equinox to the list.
This should help spread the mobile wallet revolution and help enable NFC payments at a point-of-sale level. Obviously these types of partnerships and implementations will be necessary to the whole scale adoption of mobile payments.
Here’s what Isis CTO Scott Mulloy had to say:
“Payment systems suppliers provide critical infrastructure for the development of mobile commerce. Today’s announcement is an important step in enabling NFC technology adoption throughout the mobile commerce industry. It also validates the open platform approach being offered by Isis across multiple business sectors.
Verifone is known for POS hardware and technology, while Ingenico is focused on secure electronic transactions at point-of-sale. Meanwhile, VivoTech is an NFC-centric company and Equinox primarily handles transaction processing, so the partnerships make sense in terms of what’s needed for Isis to take off. It’s this trio that will work with merchants and vendors to set them up with the hardware needed to offer contactless payments.
Right now three of our top four carriers have signed on with Isis, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Sprint, on the other hand, is on the Google Wallet team.
Klout, the startup that measures influence on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and other social media sites, is expanding the functionality of its Perks program. Klout Perks are exclusive offers or experiences, given as a result of your Klout score. For the first time, Klout is matching savings based upon a specific score.The startup is partnering with flash sales site Gilt to allow Klout members to use their influence to receive a percentage off of their Gilt purchase that matches their Klout Score. For example, if your Klout Score is 81-100, you could receive up to 100 percent off of your purchase.Klout and Gilt have also selected influencers across several categories, including fashion, interior design, social media, finance and parenting, and have asked them to curate a special sale to be featured across five of Gilt’s properties, including Men, Women, Baby&Kids, Taste and Home. Curators include Loren Ridinger for Gilt Women’s business, Art Jonak for Gilt MAN, Ciaran Blumenfeld for Gilt Baby and Kids, Erin Loechner for Gilt HOME and Pim Techmuanvivit for Gilt Taste.It’s interesting to see Klout start matching scores with corresponding discounts. In the past, Klout has offered Spotify invites, free tickets on Virgin America, a laptop from Hewlett Packard and a weekend driving in an Audi A8. For Klout, it’s a way to engage brands with the platform, and connect to users.