In this blog series, Skookum’s Director of Development, Mark Flowers, shares a sampling of news stories that caught our attention last week. Check back every Monday for a quick rundown, in case you missed it.
To the surprise of no one, Square has developed an NFC and Chip reader to enable small businesses to accept payments from Google Wallet, Apple Pay and others as well as the fancy new chip enabled cards. This is an obvious next step for them, but is great to see that I can now buy falafells from a food truck without pulling out a credit card "like an animal". Joking aside, this looks like an elegant solution for Chips and NFC, but it is odd that it doesn't handle swiping cards at all, requiring the older reader to accept cards that don't have a chip in them yet.
Like me you might have seen the recent TV spots for Samsung Pay and wondered how it actually works with that old blue credit card machine that you see at Antique stores and convenience stores in the middle of technology wastelands. Well, it looks like Samsung is using Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) that was developed by LoopPay, who Samsung acquired early in 2015. MST works by using an electromagnet inside of the most recent Samsung Galaxy phones to mimic the magnetic pulses that the standard credit card swipe machine reads to get the credit card information to the machine to process it. Its a really clever solution to increase the adoption rate of mobile payments, but at the same time isn't moving customers, or more importantly store owners, to future looking technologies for mobile payments. Samsung pay does work with NFC as well; however, by not incentivizing store owners to upgrade their credit card processing equipment, this technology could ultimatley hinder the overall growth of mobile payments.
In other news this week it came out that internally Google employees prototyped a Star Trek like communicator badge that will scour the internet for you. While satisfying the geek in all of us, in actual use it is a less than thrilling to have passersby hear your search for "What is Updog" and then be chastised by Google that it is a cruel prank that your friends are playing on you. But at its heart, this embarassing situation is central to why Siri and Google Now and other voice based personal assistants will always struggle to catch on. People struggle with the privacy implications of other people knowing that you want to be reminded to buy more gummy bears and Butterfingers this evening.