Following the likes of PayPal and Square, Groupon (GRPN) has revealed that it’s releasing its own credit card payment service called Groupon Payments. Groupon Payments will be available for the iPhone and iPod touch, and participating merchants can get free plastic dongle for swiping credit cards or pony up for a $100 smartphone case/credit card slider. According to Groupon’s website, the company will only take 1.8% of transactions processed on Discover, MasterCard and Visa cards. American Express cards will be charged a 3% transaction fee and all cards will be subject to a 15-cent charge per swipe. Groupon says its service will offer the “lowest rates available.” So are they? By comparison, PayPal’s “PayPal Here” charges 2.7% fee per transaction and Square charges 2.75% per swipe or a flat fee of $275 per year. Does the world need another mobile payment system? Groupon thinks so. More →
Nokia (NOK) is updating its Maps application to cater to people who walk down the street and get the sudden urge to get a $5 massage or a free plate of Ethiopian food. Writing at the official Nokia blog this week, Nokia Maps team member Pino Bonetti announced that the Finnish smartphone manufacturer has integrated local Groupon (GRPN) deals into its maps application, meaning users can plot bargain-basement shopping trips right from their smartphones. Basically, users can click on the Groupon deals advertised on the Maps application and then be redirected to Groupon’s mobile site where they’ll have the opportunity to take the deal. So far the Groupon feature is only available for users in the United States, Bonetti said. More →
Microsoft announced and launched a new deals website on Friday tied to its growing Bing suite of services. Bing Deals is a shopping site that compiles specials from GroupOn, Target, LivingSocial, Nordstrom and others. “Instead of building another program, we’re harnessing deals from major providers and retailers,” said Bing senior director Lisa Gurry. Microsoft’s Bing Deals offers more than 200,000 specials across the United States and, as a deal aggregator, it should eliminate the need to sign up for email alerts from multiple coupon-based services. Just like competing options, Microsoft will offer daily specials that will be accessible from its desktop website located at http://bing.com/deals and from mobile devices.
On Thursday, Groupon — the popular location-based coupon service — filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The start-up, which alerts 83 million email subscribers in 43 different countries of local deals that range from restaurant discounts to sailing lessons, hopes to raise $750 million in its IPO. “Expect us to make ambitious bets on our future that distract us from our current business,” Andrew Mason, Groupon’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Some bets we’ll get right, and others we’ll get wrong, but we think it’s the only way to continuously build disruptive products,” Mason added. Groupon launched in November, 2007, has more than 7,000 employees, and reported $645 million in revenues during Q1 2011. Hit the break for a letter from Mason that was included with the company’s filing. More →
Yellow Pages, a subsidiary of AT&T, is launching its own Deals platform that will compete with Groupon and other bargain services, Bloomberg is reporting. The service is live now on YP.com, and AT&T is offering new customers a $10 credit towards their first “Deal of the Day” purchase — provided that you sign up before May 22nd. The carrier says that its Yellow Pages Deals service will be available in Atlanta, Dallas/Forth Worth, and Los Angeles to start, although it will be deployed to more cities in the future. AT&T could have the upper hand among mobile users, as it typically installs a default Yellow Pages application on most of its phones. However, it’s unclear if it will build the Deals service directly into mobile apps, or if it will only be an online/e-mail offering. If you live in one of the three starter markets and want to save a few bucks on your next steak, face painting lesson, or both, hit the jump to get started now. More →
In November, Facebook announced its new “Deals” platform that allows users to check-in to various local businesses for discounts. On Tuesday, the social network announced that it’s taking that idea one step further with its new “Deals on Facebook” service — which is currently being tested in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego, and San Francisco. Using the Deals on Facebook, friends will be able to see local specials — such as concerts or group discounts at restaurants – and buy them directly from the social network. While we definitely see this service competing head-to-head with similar services from Groupon and Living Social, Facebook has teamed up with a number of partners, including aDealio, Gilt City, HomeRun, kgb deals, OpenTable, Plum District, PopSugar City, ReachLocal, Tippr, viagogo, and zozi for a more robust offering. If you’re in one of Facebook’s beta markets, hit up http://www.facebook.com/deals for more info. More →
Skyfire just took the wraps off of Skyfire 4.0 — its latest and greatest Android browser — and it includes a number of noteworthy enhancements. The SkyBar toolbar is now customizable and has been updated with Groupon, Google Reader, and Twitter integration. SkyBar also now includes a “share” button, feeds for sports, news, and finance, and quick access to the browser’s settings. In tandem with the new launch, Skyfire says that the “video optimization feature,” which typically costs $2.99, will be free to all Verizon customers downloading the update. Current Skyfire users will get the 4.0 update for free. Hit the jump for the full release. More →
Google offered up a whopping $6 billion in an effort to acquire local deal vender Groupon last year, but the Internet giant was rebuffed. $6 billion is quite a healthy amount of scratch, but Groupon apparently thought it could take over the world on its own. Of course the massively successful coupon merchant must have known at that time — just as the rest of the world knew — that Google would certainly not leave well enough alone. Enter “Google Offers.” The aptly named service will be Google’s attempt to eat Groupon’s lunch, offering great local deals on, well, lunch — among other things. Restaurant deals, shopping deals and other local deals will be emailed to users each day, and the service will be packed full of opportunities to notify nearby friends of great deals via Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz and so on. Hit the break for a screen shot of a Google Offers page to see what we have to look forward to, as well as a fact sheet Google is sending to local businesses in an effort to get them on board.
When it comes to the online coupon space, Google wants in. The Internet giant wants in so badly, it was willing to pay $6 billion for the current market leader, Groupon. The huge offer was actually pretty fair considering Groupon’s reported $1 billion in annual revenue, but the deal died on the table and now Google is left searching for other ways to enter the space. According to a report from the New York Post on Tuesday, the company is doing just that — Google is currently on the prowl for a “Groupon wannabe” to snatch up so it can compete with the company that rejected its advances. Google tends to get what it wants, so an acquisition is bound to happen soon — and that’s good news for consumers. Stiffer competition means more deals, and thus more savings for users of these trendy new local deal vendors. More →
Facebook today announced the introduction of its mobile platform. The purpose of the project is to provide a social environment for mobile devices that will eventually mirror the company’s dominant Web-based platform. The initial mobile platform involves a number of projects across a variety of mobile operating systems — including iOS, Android and BlackBerry — and it will allow developers to more easily expand their Facebook products beyond the desktop environment.
Platform announcements made today include:
•Single Sign-On — quick easy log-ins from mobile apps on mobile devices
•Location APIs — allows any mobile app to access Facebook location services
•Deals Platform — location-based platform for local businesses to offer deals to nearby Facebook users
Facebook is updating its Android product immediately to include support for Single Sign-On and other new features, and its iOS offering will be updated next week.