OPLIN 4cast #362: Thinning your wallet

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

walletAs you venture out to the stores this week – or jump online – to do your Christmas shopping, take a second to look at the number of plastic cards you have in your wallet: not just credit cards, but gift cards, customer loyalty cards, and of course your library card(s). Various tech businesses, including Google, have tried to reduce the plastic clutter in our wallets by using the smartphones most people carry everywhere, but since the plastic card is so convenient, none of these new ideas has become popular. Now a new startup, called Coin, proposes to let you store the data from many cards on one card that can be swiped through a magnetic reader just like a standard credit card. Most libraries use a barcode rather than a magnetic stripe on their patron cards, but if Coin is very successful, libraries may see some patron demand for magnetic readers in libraries so people don’t have to carry a special piece of plastic just for the library.

  • Tired of a fat wallet? Coin lets you hold all your cards in a single, connected card (VentureBeat/Devindra Hardawar)  “Simply swipe your cards using a card dongle like Square’s, take a picture of their front and back, and Coin’s app securely stores all of the card information for you. You can hold up to eight cards on the Coin card at once, which you can cycle through using a small button and display on the front of the card (an unlimited amount of additional cards can be swapped over from the Coin app). Paying is as simple as swiping like a normal credit card.”
  • Coin launches a crowdfunding campaign for a card that replaces every swipeable card in your wallet (The Next Web/Nick Summers)  “Each Coin will retail for $100, but you can reserve one for half that price if you get in early. In addition, there’s a $5 discount for every friend you refer. The first units are expected to ship in the summer of next year. In short, this is a card to replace all of your cards. Until mobile payment apps are truly commonplace across the world, Coin seems like the best alternative.”
  • Why was the launch of Coin so successful? (Forbes/Brian Roemmele)  “Coin set its sights on $50,000 to fund the development and production of the proof of concept wallet-like product. This goal was met in 47 minutes on the afternoon of November 14th, 2013. This represents at least 1,000 confirmed pre-orders.”
  • Coin to strengthen security of all-in-one credit card (CNET/Nick Statt)  “Many critics of Coin were quick to point out the obvious security issues with a programmable – hence, hackable – device that contains heaps of personal financial data. The company is remaining steadfast in its reliance on 128- and 256-bit encryption that spans its servers, its mobile app, and the device itself. But it’s now addressing the fraud concern by building in an alarm that keeps track of how many times the card is swiped.”

Unofficial fact:
If the collection of library cards we keep in the OPLIN office is any indication, only about 3% of Ohio public libraries issue patron cards that have magnetic stripes.

OPLIN 4Cast #279: Mobile money

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

It’s been more than a year since we took a look at the technologies behind making payments (such as library fines?) from mobile phones. Meanwhile, Near Field Communication (NFC), one of the technologies we described, is becoming a standard feature of many new smartphones, and mobile payments look like they’re poised to become very common. The Pew Internet & American Life Project just released a report on The Future of Money in a Mobile Age, which has prompted a spate of recent articles and varying opinions about mobile payments.

  • What is the future of mobile money? (ReadWriteWeb/Dan Rowinski)  “…real, noticeable change of user behavior is between two and three years away. That is the time it will take to separate all of the options that are emerging for mobile payments and determine which dominant systems will emerge.”
  • Paying with smartphones to outpace credit cards by 2020, experts say (IDG News/Cameron Scott)  “But there’s little doubt, according to Chris Silva, an analyst with Altimeter Group, that ‘NFC is going to play a much more prominent role, a major role in m-commerce,’ or mobile commerce. Google Wallet already employs NFC technology.”
  • Mobile payments won’t replace cash or credit for another decade (AllThingsD/Tricia Duryee)  “It’s unclear whether the 2020 date is optimistic or seems too far out given that so many companies are investing aggressively today. PayPal and Google are the two most notable technology companies going after the opportunity, but so are the incumbents, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express.”
  • Mobile payments may replace cash, credit cards by 2020 (Mashable/Samantha Murphy)  “‘The 2020 date might be a bit optimistic, but I’m sure that this will happen,’ said study participant Hal Varian, chief economist at Google. ‘What is in your wallet now? Identification, payment and personal items. All this will easily fit in your mobile device and will inevitably do so.’”

Contrary fact:
Don’t switch your circulation desk to all mobile payments just yet. Another Pew study released just a few days ahead of the mobile money survey found that since 2005, the percentage of U.S. adults who do not use the Internet has stayed stable at about 20-25%. They’ll probably be paying their fines in cash.

OPLIN 4Cast #253: 2012 strategic technologies

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Last week, even though we’re still more than two months away from the New Year, the Gartner Group released their list of the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2012. These are technologies that they feel will have a high potential to disrupt business, might require a large investment of cash, or carry high risk if the business is late to adopt them. Since this is the OPLIN 4cast, not the “10cast,” we’re focusing today on the four strategic technologies which we think might have the most impact on libraries: Mobile-Centric Applications; Social User Experience; Big Data; and the Internet of Things.

  • Library mobile applications: what counts as success? [pdf] (OCLC Research/Bruce Washburn)  “Some library mobile apps concentrate on the library catalog. Search and discovery of the catalog can sometimes be implemented relatively quickly, in particular if the system that supports the website for the catalog offers an out-of-the-box mobile solution. In some recent surveys of mobile users of library services, the library catalog was not the most used or desired service. Other services such as looking up library hours, reserving a study room or computer, checking out materials, paying fines, and reading electronic resources were of as much interest as searching the library catalog; in most cases much more important.”
  • What is “social reading” and why should libraries care? (Tame the Web/Allison Mennella)  “To increase both the library’s appeal and stress its value to users, libraries should consider implementing customizable and participatory services for social reading. There are a number of ways to accomplish the creation of this social space from designing blogs, podcasts, a wiki or even using an existing social media platform like GoodReads. The key is to build and maintain a site that uses moderated trust to give patrons a voice in this social space. If possible, libraries should give patrons the opportunity to design and manage their own ‘space’ within the library’s broader social platform.”
  • Retooling libraries for the data challenge (Ariadne/Dorothea Salo)  “Deposit processes in many institutional repositories assume a limited number of files to deposit, such that they can be described and uploaded one at a time by a human being. Applying this manual process to datasets is like trying to empty the ocean with an eyedropper. The SWORD protocol [Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit] holds potential to ameliorate this problem, but the protocol has not yet made its way into researcher or even library tools or processes.”
  • Buh bye library card, hello smartphone? (Ryan Livergood)  “Libraries should definitely be paying attention to apps like Google Wallet that utilize NFC [Near Field Communication] technology. Before long, many of our patrons may begin to abandon their wallets for their NFC enabled smartphones and expect to be able to use them at libraries like they can at the Walgreens or Subway across the street. Hopefully, their libraries will be ‘yes’ libraries that allow their users to store their library card in their smartphone wallet.”

Last year fact:
For those keeping score, many of Gartner’s 2012 strategic technologies were also in their 2011 list; note that, “Video … as a standard media type used in non-media companies…” has apparently graduated from prediction to fact.

OPLIN 4Cast #213: Mobile phone payments

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

iPhone dollar billPerhaps you’ve seen some video of people waving their smartphone at a device to automatically pay a fee. Perhaps you’ve wondered if this is something your library should be investigating as a way for patrons to pay library fees. This week’s OPLIN 4Cast takes a brief look at the rapidly emerging technology of mobile payments. This is not an easy technology—or rather, technologies—to explain in this short format, so the articles cited and quoted below should be considered entry points to deeper information. To start off, however, it’s helpful to clarify some jargon. “NFC” refers to Near Field Communication, in which a smartphone with a special card installed is waved near a reader; “carrier billing” refers to adding the cost of a purchase to the buyer’s phone bill; and “credit card swiping,” in this context, refers to attaching a small credit card reader to a phone.

  • Mobile credit card swiping battle continues: a look at 4 rival technologies (ReadWriteWeb/Sarah Perez)  “Square, the mobile payments company launched in 2009 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, is the name most often bandied about in tech circles these days when it comes to talk of credit-card swiping attachments made for iPhone. But Square was never alone on the mobile payments battlefront…”
  • Android Market carrier billing comes to AT&T (Ars Technica/Ryan Paul)  “Nokia claims that support for carrier billing has increased Ovi store application sales by more than ten times. The feature has a particularly profound impact in regions where credit cards aren’t ubiquitous. Google could see a similarly dramatic improvement in Android application sales as it gets more network operators on board.”
  • In the works: a Google mobile payment service? (Business Week/Olga Kharif)  “A single NFC chip on a mobile phone would hold a consumer’s financial account information, gift cards, store loyalty cards, and coupon subscriptions, say the people familiar with Google’s plans. Users may also be able to make online purchases from their phones. By scanning a movie poster, for instance, a consumer might read reviews and use the Google service to purchase tickets. ‘NFC could displace the cash register,’ says Charles Walton, chief operating officer for NFC chipmaker Inside Secure. ‘This is going to come superfast.'”
  • 2010 mobile commerce movers and shakers (Mobile Commerce Daily/Giselle Tsirulnik)  “AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless have formed a joint venture called Isis, a national mobile commerce network that will let consumers use their mobile phones to make point-of-sale purchases. The initial focus of Isis will be on building a mobile payment network using smartphone and NFC technology to streamline the payments process for consumers and merchants. Isis expects to introduce its service in key geographic markets during the next year.”

Big money fact:
IE Market Research projects that mobile payment transactions will amount to $1.13 trillion globally by 2014.