Barclays on Thursday announced the launch of the Barclaycard PayTag, a sticker that can be placed on any handset to equip it with instant NFC compatibility. The PayTag is an extension of a customer’s credit card account that can be used to make payments of £15 and under, though the limit will rise to £20 in June, and it is available at no cost to Barclaycard owners. “Today, we are offering the choice of mobile payments to millions of our customers at no additional cost to them,” David Chan, CEO of Barclaycard Consumer Europe, said. “More than half of us say that the item we’re most lost without is our mobile phone, so we’re giving people the option of using them to make easy, convenient, everyday payments without the need to upgrade their current handset.” The PayTag will be released to a select group of customers in the coming weeks, with mass availability coming later this year. Barclays’ commercial and press release follows below. More →
Despite the launch of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system and the introduction of ultra-thin Intel-powered ultrabooks, Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes thinks the PC industry will see little or no growth in 2012. Reitzes recently said that he expects PC unit growth to hover around just 0.8%, down from his original forecast of 5.1%. He argued that hard drive shortages “could impact some supply” during the first half of next year and that tablets and smartphones will “continue to cannibalize the PC market — especially as docking options become more robust.” Recent flooding in Thailand affected two major hard drive suppliers, Western Digital and Seagate, causing a hard drive shortage that impacted much of the industry. Reitzes also blames the poor economy for his lowered estimates, and he argued that corporations are less likely to refresh their PCs since unemployment is still high. The analyst’s figures aren’t that far off from other industry predictions. IDC recently said the flooding in Thailand could cause PC shipment growth to fall to between 2.2% and 3.4%, down from the firm’s original forecast of 5.1% growth over 2011.
Several analysts believe Amazon has an imminent hit on its hands with its upcoming Kindle Fire, a $199 Android-powered tablet that features deep integration with Amazon’s many digital services. While Amazon’s new tablet will be available for just over six weeks in 2011, some analysts think the company could ship as many as 5 million Kindle Fire slates during the holiday quarter. Rapid adoption of that magnitude would certainly make the Fire the fastest-selling Android tablet of all time but according to Barclays Group analyst Ben Reitzes, Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer aren’t worried. Read on for more. More →
In what may be one of the largest digital security breaches in United States history, millions of customer email addresses have been exposed as a result of a breach at Epsilon. BGR reported on Saturday that TiVo customer email adresses had been compromised as a result of unauthorized access to online marketing company Epsilon’s servers. Following that report, several other companies have come forward to confirm that their customers’ email adresses may have been exposed. Those potentially affected include customers enrolled in Best Buy’s Reward Zone program as well as customers of Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, TiVo, Barclays, Walgreens, U.S. Bancorp, Capital One, HSN and College Board, which represents almost 6,000 different U.S. colleges and universities. “A subset of Epsilon clients’ customer data were exposed by an unauthorized entry into Epsilon’s email system,” Epsilon said in a statement last week. The company insists that only names and email addresses may have been compromised, and that sensitive information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and passwords were not accessed.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that U.S. wireless providers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are working on a joint project that aims to bring a mobile-phone payment system Stateside. Purportedly, the effort is being headed by General Electric executive Michael Abbott and will be financed by Barclays PLC and Discover Financial Services.
“The rare showing of cooperation between three of the four national carriers creates a potentially large base of users for its mobile-payment system,” writes the Journal. “The carriers are eager to move into mobile transactions because it represents a new revenue stream and another feature that gets subscribers spending more time on their phone.”
The report goes on to note that the announcement of the new service’s existence could come as early as today. Mobile payments systems have been in use in Canada and Europe for several years. More →
Bloomberg is reporting that AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless are in talks to bring cellphone based payments to the States. Bloomberg cited, “three people with direct knowledge of the plan,” when they wrote that the three wireless vendors “may work with Discover Financial Services and Barclays Plc to test a system at stores in Atlanta and three other U.S. cities that would let a consumer pay with the contactless wave of a smartphone.” Currently, Visa and MasterCard handle 82% of consumer credit card spending; a $2.45 trillion business. The reported system would see payments processed by Discover’s network (currently the fourth largest credit card network in the U.S.) and Barclays would be the bank managing the accounts. The contactless cellphone payment system is already in use in Japan and the United Kingdom. What do you think? Do you see value in a service like this, or is it more inclined to just creep you out? More →