Amazon Payments Global Partner Program to Take on Paypal

Amazon is a popular platform for many things, with their websites offering everything from the kindle to mass ordering your pets favourite type of food. With recent steps in the video game market, courtesy of Lumberyard and even sharing educational materials for schools, the company look like it will stop anytime soon with the revelation of the new Payments Global Partner Program.

If this sounds familiar it’s because you probably already use PayPal or something similar, but Amazon’s Payments Global Partner Program looks to go head to head by offering you the same security you get with your amazon account when paying for products on hundreds of other sites.

Amazon states that all the merchants using the new system will be using the same fraud detection technology that Amazon already uses, meaning if you trusted Amazon you can trust them. If this wasn’t enough the temptation, companies are helped by its quick integration and inline basket, meaning no more tedious programming or changing sites to add in your bank details.

It should be noted though that sites using the new system will have access to customers “name and email addresses so you can personalise their on-site experience”, while not a huge issue some people would want reassurances that an easy to opt-in program had some security regarding their details.

Hackers Can Now Use Square Reader to Act as a Credit Card Skimmer

The Square Reader device has been a popular and cheap alternative to point of sale devices. However, as you know where everything is heading nowadays, what can be used to make transactions can also be used to hack your accounts too.

A few grad students seem to have managed to alter the Square Reader with everyday tools so it can be used to skim credit cards. They say that this was made possible due to the fact that Square Reader is made using cheap components and direct communication with smartphones. Of course, its developers wanted it to be cheap and effective, but in doing so, they opened up other unwanted doors too.

The mod consists of stripping away the encryption on the Reader, which makes all credit card information visible after swiping it through the device. Of course, once modified, the Reader becomes unusable with the official Reader app, but the student researched a way of making a custom app and adapting it to the hacker’s purpose. The app they made was so great that it automated the whole process, meaning that a hacker would have access to a target’s bank account as soon as he or she swipes the card through the tampered Reader.

So, the bottom line here is that the devices are not as safe as people thought. If you’ve paid a merchant through a Reader device, you should keep an eye on your bank statement. It is said that all models of the Reader are vulnerable and can be tampered with, so customers should take caution when completing transactions through a Reader device.

Thank you Motherboard for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Mashable

PayPal Fined $25 Million For Credit Program

Who remembers the “bill me later” option for Paypal? Not many I’m willing to bet, it didn’t last too long, and now we know why. It’s going to cost PayPal $25 million in fines after it was found to have signed people up to the scheme under false advertisements and sometimes without their permission or knowledge.

The bill me later option was created as a credit system, that means that when you bought something under it, a credit service would pay for your purchase and then the user would pay them back. However, PayPal is said to have signed up people to the service without their permission or knowledge (some people were using the feature without even knowing they had accounts) and even sometimes forced users to select PayPal credit instead of using the normal credit or debit card billing methods.

PayPal is even accused of incurring late fees and interest charges by mishandling people’s bills and accounts. Under the complaint filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) some users weren’t aware of the accounts until they received statements stating late fees and interest charges, or in more severe cases calls from debt collection companies.

PayPal is now required to pay out $15m in reimbursements to consumers who were placed into the scheme or made purchases through it. A further $10m fine is to be paid to the CFPB Civil Penalty Fund, a fund set up to help pay out to victims when a company is unable to.

I was unfortunate to find this situation myself, after buying an item on eBay and being forced to select PayPal Credit (a scheme which at the time I didn’t even know existed) and then setting a date of a week later for the date of repayment. I did manage to find the pay early option through on the PayPal account page, after several minutes of searching through settings and records and was able to settle the payment within a matter of minutes. Looks like I was a lucky one.

Did you encounter the “bill me later” option? What is your experience with the option? Were you aware you were using a credit program that could bill you extra for payments missed?

Thank you The Verge and Consumer Finance for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WikiMedia.

 

Dyre Wolf Attack Reels in over $1 Million in Wire Transfers

IBM’s Security division has been researching a malware attack they have named ‘The Dyre Wolf’ which is said to have been responsible for stealing over $1 million.

It is said that the hacking campaign uses targeted spear phishing emails, malware and a phone conversation on organisations that use wire transfers.

IBM stated that the attack starts with a single user opening an infected email attachment, having it contacting the attacker’s website and downloading the Dyre malware that hijacks the user’s address book and mails itself through the organisation.

After the infection mentioned above takes place, if a user attempts to log into a banking site, it loads up a new screen that says the site is experiencing issues and shows a phone number for the user to call and make their transaction.

Once the attacker has all the user’s details, a wire transfer is made that runs through a series of international banks. IBM recommends that companies train their employees not to open suspicious attachments or links and remind them that banks do not request their banking credentials in any way.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information

Square Bringing Apple Pay to Small Businesses

We’ve recently reported on Apple Pay coming to your mobile phone through their technology advancements, now news has come to light that a credit card processing service for small firms called Square is looking to bring it to the wider audience. The original list of participating Apple Pay stores was completely dominated by big names, leaving the small fish in some hot water.

In basic terms, Square is described as a mobile credit-card reader that allows a small business to process payments without needing a terminal. Originally seen as a competitor to Apple Pay, Square’s founder Jack Dorsey has publicly stated that his companies service is designed to function as  “a [cash] register, and this register accepts all these forms of payments”, not a competitor to Apple’s newly announced technology. Adding to this, he is planning to integrate Apple Pay compatibility into his existing model with development said to commence in 2015.

CNN reported that this change will require a hardware update into Square’s existing technology, which currently serves as a module that plugs into smartphones. However, we’ve come to learn that most smartphones with NFC capabilities will quite possibly allow Square’s Apple Pay integration to work flawlessly without touching any hardware upgrades. If you’re a small business and are planning to use Apple pay, it’s about time you grabbed yourself a Nexus 5 or later model phone.

This is some good news for small business owners for sure, once again opening up another portal for their customers to pay with ease. We’re waiting with baited breath to see if, when and how Apple Pay takes off in the mainstream market.

Image courtesy of Engadget

UK’s National Crime Agency Gives Two-Weeks Notice Regarding GoZeuS and CryptoLocker

The UK National Crime Agency warns the public to take advantage of a two-week notice in order to protect themselves from two major malware roaming the internet, the GoZeuS and CryptoLocker, which are responsible for transferring cash from online accounts and holding personal data for ransom.

The NCA stated that the alert is the most largest industry and law enforcement collaborations to this date and that the FBI’s involvement in several countries has weakened the global network of infected computers, meaning that the notice and prevention ahead of the malware activity can help diminish the infection chance.

GoZeuS, also known as P2PZeuS or Gameover ZeuS, and CryptoLocker are said to target all versions of Windows operating systems, including the ones running in virtual environment, servers or embedded versions. The agency also states that the malware is responsible for transferring hundreds of millions of pounds around the world.

In the case where GoZeuS cannot transfer significant amounts of money from a personal computer, it is said that CryptoLocker is called as a back-up plan, locking the user’s personal data and holding it for ransom, currently price at 1 Bitcoin. The recent estimate of infected systems is said to be at 15,500 PCs in the UK alone.

The infection is said to occur by clicking fake links or attachments in e-mail sent by people in the contact book who have already been infected by the malware. The NCA recommends users to always keep their software up to date and check their computers for infection using antivirus software.

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TheNextWeb

Dogevault Goes Offline – Millions of Dogecoins Appear Stolen

As far as cryptocurrencies go, Dogecoin has by far got to be the most popular one of recent times and it’s not surprising really considering it went viral after it was created in the spirit of the popular internet Doge meme.

News has come to light however that some people may have taken a liking to the currency a bit too much after the online wallet Dogevault reportedly went offline without any warning and some users are realising that large quantities of Doge were transferred out of their accounts just before the service went down.

Whether or not the Dogevault servers were hacked or whether the owners have shut up shop and made for the hills is still under investigations, but after some investigation in to where the coins have been transferred to, it seems like we could be looking at the biggest Dogecoin thefts in history. One user posted a shot of his wallet, showing that 950k coins were removed and after following the transaction path, they appear to have landed in this wallet, along with nearly 120 million more coins. Another wallet has been found as well that suggests the Dogevault owners are also responsible, with a balance of over 2.6 million coins itself.

What is certain though is that the coins sadly are not likely to be returned which turn may cost their rightful owners a lot of real hard cash. My suggestion though is that if you use an online wallet, get a desktop wallet that I personally feel is more secure, transfer all your coins there and make sure you keep it safe. A flash drive in a safe would be better suggestion even still.

Source: The Cryptocurrency Times

Study Shows 20% Of All Transactions Were Generated By Mobile Purchases

It appears that payments made with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets rose 55 percent over last year, reaching a total of 19.5 percent of all transactions processed worldwide in December by Amsterdam’s Adyen.

The most used devices that generated the reported numbers were, of course, Apple iPads and iPhones. The iPad accounted for 41 percent of mobile transactions during the busy September to December holiday shopping period, while the Apple iPhone took the second spot with 31.6 percent of mobile-payment transactions, having Android smartphones stand at 20 percent and Android tablets at just 6.6 percent. Microsoft Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices each accounted for less than 1 percent.

Adyen saw iPhone’s share drop from 68.5 percent in April 2013 to 60 percent in December, while Android devices rose from 30.7 percent to 38.6 percent. The shift is said to be due to the increasing numbers of Android devices, particularly those from Samsung.

This trend in payments made via smartphones and tablets will influence how merchants design payment pages, Adyen points out, adding it’s worth noting that tablets are the preferred mobile device among shoppers now for more high-transaction purchases.

Adyen processes over 250 payment methods, including Visa, MasterCard and American Express, and 187 currencies on six continents, for a total of about $14 billion in payments, and its customers include Groupon, Mango, KLM, CityJet, and Vodafone. The outfit’s analysis covered industries that include travel, retail, ticketing, gaming, and digital goods.

In retail, individuals are said to be spending more on average through payments made on tablets than PCs. Roelant Prins, chief commerce officer at Adyen, said it’s vital for merchants to keep up with the evolution of mobile devices and consumer behavior and use this knowledge strategically in their planning.

Thank you PC World for providing us with this information

$126,000 Worth Of Bitcoin Sales Made By Overstock.com During The First Day

Overstock.com, the US-based online retail store, said last year that they will be accepting Bitcoin payments in 2014. And just like that, yesterday was Overstock’s first day of accepting Bitcoin transactions, which went incredibly well, as reports say.

In the first 30 minutes, Overstock made over $5,000 in Bitcoin transactions, which exceeded $10,000 in the following couple of hours. It is estimated that the company made around $126,000 in its first day of accepting Bitcoin currency as payment, which represents roughly 4 percent of its daily sales.

“After 21 hours on @overstock.com, we’ve had 780 #Bitcoin orders that accounted for $124,000 in sales. Wow!” said Overstock.com CEO, Patrick M. Byrne, in a Twitter post.

Bitcoin transactions are currently used in over 19,000 outlets, but Overstock is the biggest retailer which started accepting Bitcoin as a payment method. The value of Bitcoin has fluctuated the past couple of months, from over $1,000 per Bitcoin to just $640 after China announced that their central banking institutions will stop processing Bitcoin transactions. However, the currency rapidly gained back ground after Zynga announced that they will start accepting Bitcoin payments as well.

Cryptocurrency will never have a stable value on the market due to it not being backed by central governments. However, its value is based on the transactions made. The more transactions, the higher the value of Bitcoin gets.

Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information

Winamp And Shoutcast To Be Bought By Radionomy

Winamp and Shoutcast, the legacy digital music services that owner AOL originally planned to shut down but then halted pending a sale, are reportedly being bought by another company than what we heard in the past. They are not being bought by Microsoft, but are instead being acquired by Radionomy, an international aggregator of online radio stations headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

The Radionomy connection was first noticed by a Carsten Knobloch over at Stadt-Bremerhaven, who saw that Winamp’s nameservers, but not Shoutcast’s, had been transferred to Radionomy. Since then more, information rolled in and it’s known now that the deal is for both properties and should be finalised by Friday, if not sooner.

Radionomy has some 6,000 stations in its catalog already, with an emphasis on a do-it-yourself platform that anyone can use to create a channel. Shoutcast’s 50,000-strong catalog of radio stations will be a major boost on that front. Winamp’s media playing software could be used to help program those radio stations and offer additional services.

Some of those may see the two products in more commercial settings. One of Radionomy’s strategic investors is MusicMatic, which develops audio and video experiences for stores and other venues.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Bitcoin Offers Accepted By A Vegas Developer Selling His $7.85 Million Mansion

A developer and casino owner based in Los Vegas is reportedly attempting to sell his 25,000 feet mansion at a $7.85 million and is willing to accept Bitcoin currency as well. The idea apparently comes from his two sons who currently are digital “miners” and deal with the aforementioned currency.

“The advantage is that we’re expanding our market and adding some notoriety,” said Jack Sommer, the developer and casino owner. However, Julian Tosh, a consultant and owner of the marketplace website bitcoinsinvegas.com stated in the “Las Vegas Review-Journal” that using the currency can streamline international business deals: “There are a bunch of people who have bitcoins, and they’re dying for a place to spend it”.

Craig Tann, Sommer’s sales agent, said that Sommer’s mansion would be the first home in southern Nevada tp be marketed formally around bitcoins. But there are also other businesses which accept the currency. For example, a California Lamborhini dealership sold a $103,000 Tesla for 91.4 bitcoins. Also, a Canadian citizen listed his Alberta home for an estimated 480 bitcoins ($405,000 in US dollars).

But there is also a downside to all of this. As Tosh points out, one bitcoin was valued at $10 in January and rose up to over $1,000 in the October-November timeline. However, Friday it was valued at $870, but Bank of America Merrill Lynch speculates the bitcoint to rise again to $1,300, therefore a transaction in bitcoins is very risky. You can win big or you can lose heavily.

Thank you TheStar for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TheStar

There May Still Be Hope For The Llama-based Audio Player Winamp

Following yesterday’s announcement, Winamp will be shutting down on December 20th. According to Techcrunch, AOL may be in talks with Microsoft to sell Winamp, along with Shoutcast, a media streaming service also developed by Nullsoft.

AOL refused to comment on this matter, and Microsoft did not confirm nor denied as no response was given back. Techcrunch reported that the deal is not yet finalized between the two companies just yet and they are still working out the price. It could also be very wishful thinking from those intent on trying to save both services. No insight of what is to become of Shoutcast was given yesterday.

If the rumors are true, it would represent an interesting, and strange, twist in the story. On the AOL side, it’s fairly clear why AOL is closing down Winamp and Shoutcast, and it makes sense why it would want to sell both. As an owner, AOL has never given much of a strong direction to the products, at a time when other digital music companies have been building up audiences and evolving technologies. It has already shuttered and sold off other music assets as part of a bigger strategic shift to focus resources as a web publisher, and as a rich-media advertising network operator across those and third-party sites, with an increasing focus on ad-tech to improve how those ads are delivered and measured.

From Microsoft’s point of view, the Windows giant has had its own setbacks in music, aka. Zune. However, Microsoft put a lot of effort into the Xbox Music basket, which works on the Xbox 360, Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8,iOS and Android devices, offering free, ad-supported streaming, subscriptions, and downloaded music.

We are not sure where Winamp or Shoutcast may fit here, but Shoutcast has a platform that acts as a portal to over 50,000 radio stations. This could be one area that Microsoft might want to add to the Xbox Music platform, and which it currently lacks, to complement its Pandora-style personal radio feature. Winamp might be a black hole at the moment, since nobody knows what Microsoft might have it plan for it.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Paypal Starts Chip-and-Pin Payment Device in the UK as an Alternate Payment Method

Well-known online payment gateway Paypal has launched a chip-and-pin machine for market traders, taxis and shops allowing them to accept credit and debit cards and even their Paypal option.

Paypal stated that this new device will cost under £100 and charges less than 3% transaction fees.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/IVR0IM5rxvI[/youtube]

David Marcus, president of Paypal said the following:

“At Paypal, we spend a huge amount of time talking and listening to small businesses. They are the core of Paypal’s business and they’ve told us that they want a simple, secure way to take card payments anytime and anywhere they trade.”

As of now Paypal is offering these new devices only to a few selected businesses, but it expects to have a full launch by summer 2013. Once they’re able to implement this successfully in the UK, Paypal have already started to make plans to expand this alternate payment procedure in other countries.

Devices like this aren’t new. Even in the UK, there are similar alternate payment methods where Paypal faces competition. Even in the United States, there is a dongle-type device which plugs into a mobile phone and can be used as a credit card reader. There are companies such as iZettle, Intuit and mPowa who have already rolled out similar devices and as said by an analyst of research firm Ovum, Eden Zoller, these types of devices are popular in the US so it makes sense to have an optimized version in the European market.

This will be a boon to small business owners, such as Mark Thomas who runs an ice cream stall at London’s Borough’s Market who will one of the first to use this device.

He said,”Cash is king in the market, but people run out of cash very quickly, and we often lose sales because customers can’t face the long weekend wait at the ATM.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/IxJ49LtfhLo[/youtube]

In any case, Paypal has a large presence and a huge database, not to mention one of the well-known ways for international and/or online payment. Since you can also use your Paypal account to make payments from these devices, it adds as a +1 advantage.

Source: BBC UK