Goooood Morning Silicon Alley!
This is a guest post from Gary Sharma (aka “The Guy with the Red Tie”), founder and CEO of GarysGuide and proud owner of a whole bunch of black suits, white shirts and, at last count, over 40 red ties. You can reach him at gary [at] garysguide.com.
My friend Rachel Hofstetter (Founder/CEO, Guesterly & former Food Editor @ Oprah Mag & Reader’s Digest) has a new book out, Cooking Up A Business! To celebrate, she’s throwing an event @ Levo League next week, Celebration of Food + Entrepreneurship – fireside chats w/ food entrepreneurs Cameron Hughes & Maddy D’Amato, wine flights, Chipotle bar, chocolate tasting + tons more food from the book! Invite only, but I have 5 Free Passes!
Last August, Silicon Alley darling Venmo, a mobile app that lets you split bills and pay friends, was acquired by Braintree, a PayPal competitor, for $26.2 million. At the time, Braintree emphasized the shift towards mobile commerce. And it looks like having a consumer-facing brand like Venmo is helping in that department.
Today, they announced the launch of Venmo Touch, which should help lower the barrier to buying things on mobile by avoiding the hassle of having to enter your credit card information with every new app . . . as long as it’s part of the Braintree family.
Not only is Starbucks accepting payments via Square, the coffee conglomerate is now also selling the Square credit card reader for $10 at its retail locations. [New York Times]
Spotify has suspended its music download service in the U.K. Users can still stream music, but are sent to an unhelpful FAQ page when they attempt to purchase it. [Pocket-Lint]
Kim Dotcom says the U.S. “planted” evidence, encouraging him to keep copyrighted files on the Megaupload servers but then punishing him when he did so. [Ars Technica]
That indie Steve Jobs film, that will star Ashton Kutcher and be an inevitable flop that we will still watch anyway, is slated for release in April. Who wants to go with us? [Wall Street Journal]
The New York state comptroller is suing microchip company Qualcomm for data about its political expenditures with the hopes it can bring more transparency to corporate political spending. [New York Times]
The Credit Card Killers
With an ever-crowded financial tech market and companies like PayPal and Google Wallet elbowing for industry dominance, the race to kill the credit card is heating up. But among the standouts is Iowa-based mobile payment startup Dwolla, thanks to an innovative pricing structure and a growing New York presence helmed by Michael Schonfeld and Alex Taub. Dwolla has raised money from two New York venture capital firms, Union Square Ventures and Thrive Capital. (Josh Kushner, a Thrive principal, is also part-owner of Observer Media Group.)
Tap It To Me
Now that big fancy Starbucks has its Square-enabled mobile payments system, you didn’t think Dunkin Donuts was going to allow itself to be one-upped like some sort of country cousin, did you? Certainly not!
GigaOm reports that today, the Massachusetts-based purveyor of superior coffee and slightly stale baked goods is launching its very own mobile payments app, for those of you looking to download something new to the fifth screen of your smartphone.. How it works:
Tap It To Me
Before most consumers have gotten around to downloading a single mobile payments app onto their smartphone, a consortium of a big chain stores are preparing to push out yet another alternative. The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart, Target, 7-Eleven, Best Buy, CVS, Sunoco, and more are in the early stages of developing a horribly-named payments network called Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which will let users pay with a tap of their phone.
Rather than go the Starbucks route and partner with Square or follow other national retailers (like Duane Reade, RadioShack, Banana Republic, etc.) into Google Wallet, the group is going rogue, arguing that Google and other telecom providers–AT&T and T-Mobile have a payments app called Isis; Verizon and Vodafone have one as well–don’t understand customers like they do. The retailers behind MCX point out that they have a combined $1 trillion in annual sales and “serve nearly every smartphone user in the U.S.”
People of Walmart
So, a decade from now, it’s going to be all smartphone-enabled mobile wallets, right? Children being born right this minute will look at good old greenbacks the way today’s teenagers think of VHS cassettes. Well, Wal-Mart apparently isn’t so sure about that, because the big box behemoth has just launched an online “Pay with Cash” option specifically targeted to consumers who don’t have debit or credit cards. That’s a bigger market than you might assume.
Dongle Me This
As expected, PayPal released its own version of Square’s mobile payments service today. Like Square, “PayPal Here” uses a small dongle that can be plugged into an iPhone’s headphone jack as a credit card swiper. Merchants punch in the required amount and customers can choose whether to swipe their card, use the camera to read the credit card number, or even scan a check. Also like Square, the app boasts tracking features for small businesses and allows for direct payment based on location.
However, it’s super hard to focus on the pros/cons and whether the eBay subsidiary can squash Square, when all we can picture is Dwight Schrute’s moonpie face as he unveiled the similiarly-hued-and-shaped Saber Pyramid. We’re not the only ones who noticed. Verge commenters couldn’t stop knee-slapping over the likeness.
Point of Purchase
It’s probably easiest to explain how Zaarly works by quoting one of its earliest fans, Demi Moore: “Everything has a price.”
The service hopes to revolutionize commerce by building a mobile marketplace for real-time, local transactions. Say it’s raining out and you’ve got to leave the office for an interview, but you forgot your Read More
Just a few weeks ago Square announced that Apple would begin retailing its mobile payments device both online and in its physical stores.
Today Leena Rao broke the news that the start-up, which keeps offices in New York and San Fran, announced another big partnership, a strategic investment from Visa.
Square offers a free Read More