Ready to develop your tech skills?

Posted on June 21, 2015
eric.milic@kubera.cc

Are you interested in leaning something new? Or maybe taking an evening course to brush up your skills?

RED Academy – Vancouver’s first fully tech-focused school is launching their summer and evening courses in July.

RED Academy, founded and operated by a team of local tech professionals who offer a unique style of learning that is focused on real life training and experiences.

Vancouver’s tech industry has been growing rapidly and at the moment there are many vacant high paying tech jobs with not enough skilled labour to fill these positions.

With Microsoft, Amazon, Hootsuite and many other companies joining the tech scene, Colin Mansell, Managing Director of RED Academy suggests, “by 2019, there will be more than 15,000 tech jobs that need to be filled, and that’s just in Vancouver”.

While traditional education is not keeping up with the demand for these tech jobs, RED Academy aims create an environment that will satisfy this demand by producing highly employable technologists for the real world.

“There’s an incredible demand for skilled professionals, yet there are very few resources for people to receive in-depth education.” – Mansell

RED Academy focuses on three key areas: programing, digital design and digital marketing.

Their evening and weekend courses start July 15 are introductory programs designed for beginners and working professions who are seeking to brush up their skills. What you’ll find is user experience design, digital marketing, web development, and ecommerce related courses.

In an interview with Global News, Colin Mansell suggests that 30% of everything that you will learn in technology becomes obsolete within a year. Thankfully RED Academy has you covered. These 5-week evening and weekend courses will get you up to date with the current tech trends and best practices.

Not sure if tech is the right career path for you? No problem! There are several free courses to check out on their website starting July 6th.

Moving towards a tech future in Canada with mobile payments: iOS 9 and Android pay

 

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9to5Mac reports that there will be several improvements to Apple iOS 9 including features that will help close the gap between the banks and Apple Pay.

The first improvement mentioned is Force Touch. A capability that is available on the new MacBook and Retina MacBook Pros, allows Apple users extra functionality when they apply pressure to their trackpad.

This feature will only be available on the new iPhone 6s and will function similarly to the way it’s been implemented on new Macbooks. Users will be able to do tasks like drop pins in maps or look up the definition of a word just by pressing on it with pressure.

iOS 9 will also have an updated keyboard, making the QuickType keyboard more easily accessible.

Now what we’ve all been waiting for, Apple Pay.

iOS 9 will have an improved Passbook app that will include support for Canadian banks, Canadian credit and debit cards, and Canadian credit unions. At this point, Canadian banks are still in negotiations with Apple and it’s possible that their agreements may not be finalized in time for the iOS 9 launch. Either way we are expected to have this technology in the coming months.

Another very exciting mobile payment solution announced to launch in the United States is Android Pay.

Using the same fundamental technology as Apple Pay, users will be able to store their credit card data and pay with their Android based smartphone using Host Card Emulation. Host Card Emulation is a new standard developed by Google and the major payment card networks.

Similar to Apple Pay, users only need to tap an NFC payments terminal with their phone and enter their pin, password or biometrics (if available) to authenticate a transaction.

Android Pay will be available on Android 4.4 or higher and is said to have a built in loyalty program where customers can collect loyalty points while making payments for their favorite goods and services.

Although Google won’t be rolling out Android Pay at the same time as Apple Pay in Canada, they will launch Android pay when it’s is ready for mass consumption – when it is working universally well on many Android based smartphones, rather than on a few devices.

 

This is promising for the Canadian payments ecosystem, which will be able to handle the technology well as our market continues to mature for mobile payments.

Mobile, Credit & Debit and other payments outstrips the use of cash in the UK

Posted on May 26, 2015
Kubera

For the first time in modern society, the use of cashless payments has surpassed the use of cash by consumers, businesses and financial institutions.

The Payments Council, an organization of financial institutions in the UK that oversees all payment mechanisms, reported the use of cash fell to 48% last year.

This left 52% to all other transactions including electronic payments, debit, credit, mobile, cheques and more.

By 2024, 35% of consumer payments in the UK are expected to be in cash.
This 30% decrease in cash spending over the next 10 years will be caused by the move towards credit, debit and mobile payments.

Interestingly enough, cash still remained the most common payment method for consumers and businesses in 2014.

The types of businesses where cash was used most frequently were bars, clubs and newsstands. This contrasts gas stations where over 70% of transactions were cashless.

Digital Overtakes Cash

We should expect the same trend in Canada but at a slower rate since adoption of new payments technology in North America has been slower than in Europe.

Regardless, payments technology continues to expand in Canada with the adoption of mobile payments by the major banks and telecommunications companies.

Most recently, MTS and Sasktel introduced mobile payments to their networks. Canada now has five mobile carriers that provide Canadians with the ability to make purchases with their smartphone.

Rogers, Telus, Bell, MTS and Sasktel now all support mobile payments in Canada. Collectively, these carriers provide mobile cell service to over 94% of Canadians.

In addition to the wireless carriers, the major Canadian banks are providing mobile payments through their own smartphone applications.

Our adoption to new technology is gradually making it easier for Canadians to make payments without the need to carry cards or cash.

 

Why would Apple Pay benefit my business?

Since its launch in late September of last year, Apple has sold over 130 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus, boosting the company’s revenue to over $130 billion (Q1 & Q2) by the end of Q2 2015.

The extremely high Apple device count in use combined with the launch of Apple Pay in the US, and soon to launch in Canada make this technology very attractive for all types of businesses. Now is a great opportunity to get with the times and offer Apple Pay to your valued customers.

So why would Apple Pay benefit my business?

It’s an easier way for customers to pay

Customers no longer need to spend time looking for the right card to make payments. Apple’s one touch pay with Touch ID makes it convenient for customers, as there’s no need to unlock their phones. Customers simply hold their iPhone near the contactless terminal at your cash register with their finger on their Touch ID. Your customer’s iPhone will vibrate when the transaction is successful.

It’s easy to accept

To accept apple pay you need a point of sale terminal with contactless enabled. Kubera can help you easily and quickly accept contactless payments without disrupting the flow of your business. If you already have contactless, we can help you enable Apple Pay.

For merchants in the US, the October 2015 deadline is approaching and accepting Apple Pay could help your business meet the EMV requirements since most EMV terminals also handle contactless/NFC transactions.

It is not more expensive

There are no additional fees for using Apple Pay and payments are charged as card-present transactions which tend to be less expensive than other apps who charge card not present transactions.

Payments are more secure

Your customer’s information is not used when transactions are completed with Apple Pay. Instead of customer’s actual credit and debit card numbers, unique tokens are created and stored in their iPhone and used to make payments. This confidential information is never passed on to the merchant or Apple.

Liability is treated the same way as current credit and debit transactions

Being PCI compliant is the only way to avoid risk from fraud and fraud liability. If you have not yet assessed your business for PCI compliance, please work with our security experts to ensure the safety of your business.

Apple Pay attracts the right kind of customers

According to Jim Maholic, author of Business Cases that Mean business and VP of Hitachi Consulting, “There’s a certain number of affluent customers who use the iPhone 6,” says Maholic. If one store offers Apple Pay and the other doesn’t, those well-heeled customers are more likely to walk in the Apple Pay door. “Now that I’ve got that customer, it’s harder for somebody to steal that customer.”

Once your business is able to adopt Apple Pay, there’s no telling what other great opportunities will arise from this technology. One thing is certain; customers will enjoy an easier more convenient way to pay while transactions are streamlined and customer throughput is improved.

 

 

Canada’s big six banks are negotiating for November Apple Pay launch

Posted on April 21, 2015
eric.milic@kubera.cc

 

Canada’s big six banks are negotiating with Apple and according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple Pay is expected come to Canada in November.

For those who aren’t familiar, Canada’s big six consist of the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, Bank of Montreal, National Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Not wanting to comment on rumors or speculation from the media, Royal Bank of Canada stated “Apple has not yet announced plans for Apple for the Canadian Market.

Concerned about fees and security flaws, the banks have formed a consortium and hired security consultancy McKinsey & Co to develop a safe security protocol that they can leverage during their negotiations with Apple.

Over the past six months, there have been problems with security that have negatively affected US banks who rushed to roll out Apple Pay. With the rush, they were unable to negotiate any sort of fraud detection process leaving the banks at fault with a difficult situation.

In theory, Apple Pay would prevent fraud because it makes stealing credit and debit card information extremely difficult.

For every transaction, Apple tokenizes the customer’s credit card so that a merchant never actually sees any customer information. This is great for both merchants and customers alike.

The major security flaw is in the way that both Apple Pay and the US banks onboard new credit cards to the system.

The US banks allowed Apple to use Apple’s own proprietary system, which does not ask customers much beyond their basic credit card information. Information that could be used to help banks detect fraud more easily, including phone numbers or addresses is not included in their basic set up.

Because US banks didn’t scrutinize this, some too afraid that they would not be included as one of the initial issuers with Apple Pay, fraud has been difficult to manage.

In addition to the missing customer information that would be helpful for banks to detect fraud, users who encountered fraudulent credit card charges with Apple Pay, were directed to a customer care centre rather than a fraud prevention centre.

The customer care centre’s actually allowed for more fraudulent cards to be approved and used with Apple Pay. Fraudsters in some cases would call the centre alerting them of a trip out of town making these fraudulent transactions look normal.

Although the US banks are responsible for all fraudulent transactions, Apple has stepped in to help work with them to deter fraud. Banks have also recently toughened standards when customers sign up with Apple Pay.

Canadian banks don’t want to make the same mistake, but security protocol isn’t all banks in Canada have to worry about.

Canadian banks are also facing a potential 15 to 25 basis point charge for every credit card transaction through Apple Pay. This is a substantially more expensive than what’s in stock for US banks, who are paying about 15 basis points per transaction.

Canadian banks also are concerned that types of services like Apple Pay lower a banks relationship with its customers as some are deploying their own.

RBC has developed it’s own mobile wallet for Android and Blackberry for its own customers. TD and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce have also worked to provide their customers new technology with UGO Wallet, which stores credit, debit and loyalty cards on smartphones.

Let’s hope for the best as our banks work with Apple to deploy their fantastic mobile payments technology.

Why switching to EMV Chip & PIN is so important

Posted on March 31, 2015
Kubera

From a merchant perspective, there is a myth that switching over to EMV Chip and PIN is more expensive than swipe and sign.

In some cases, if you own terminals that facilitate EMV, software needs to be bought to manage the PIN, but it’s not really more expensive in the long term.

If you are renting your terminals, the switchover should be seamless and could even save your company money. For example at Kubera, your bottom line is important to us, which is why we do pricing reviews and analyze your business before recommending a solution moving forward.

In both instances, switching from swipe and sign to EMV will reduce your chances and liability for fraud, which in the long run is a cost reducer.

EMV is more secure. The cards are much more difficult to replicate, and EVM terminals authorize payment using an encrypted code from the EMV Chip that cannot be used twice. Cardholders then, have to authenticate the transaction themselves using their PIN (personal identification number).

Another reason to offer EMV is all 10 of the largest credit card issuing banks are on their way to offering EMV compliant credit and debit cards.

A recent study from cardhub.com explains that these 10 credit card issuers expect that the majority of their portfolio will be updated with EMV by the end of 2015.

 

Most of these cards will also have NFC or near field communication. This makes for extremely efficient and fast payment. Customers enjoy the convenience of this feature and they regularly use it here in Canada.

In October, there will be a shift of liability for the costs associated with the fraud.

Right now, if a card-present transaction is fraudulent using counterfeit cards for example, the liability falls back on the card issuer or payment processor depending on situation.

After October 1st 2015, the liability for card-present fraudulent transactions will be on whichever party is the least EMV-compliant. This could be the issuer, the processor or even the business.

In many cases the cost of fraud will fall back on the merchant as issuing banks and acquirers are on track to be EMV compliant.

Doug Johnson, the vice president of risk management policy for the American Bankers Association expects that about 50% of banks will be transitioned over by October 2015.

Even though every bank may not be compliant, there’s no reason to leave your business at risk for fraud. Especially when it’s typically an easy switch, much easier than that of a major bank.

Target will pay data breach victims $10 million

Thursday March 19th, a federal judge gave approval for a 10 million dollar settlement for the customers who were affected by Target’s data breach in 2013.

“We are pleased to see the process moving forward and look forward to its resolution,” said Molly Snyder, Target spokesperson reported to CBS News on Wednesday.

Target has agreed to pay the proposed $10 million and customers who will be paid back are individual victims who were inconvenienced by the breach. Each breach victim could receive up to $10,000 in damages.

Should any breach victim feel that this settlement is not adequate, they are still able to file objections by the 10th of November, when the final hearing is expected.

This is a great settlement for Target. In order to receive this settlement, victims must complete a claim that will be processed through a dedicated website.

The claim form will ask victims if they conducted a transaction with their debit or credit card in-store or online, between the 27th of November and the 18th of December 2013. It will also include other questions regarding the belief or proof of compromised personal information. Now, consider how complicated this is going to be for consumers to provide this information.

Customers will have to provide evidence that they were inconvenienced by the breach. These include at least one of the following:

  • Unauthorized charges on their debit or credit card
  • Time invested triaging the fraudulent charges
  • Costs associated with addressing fraud
  • Costs associated with hiring a professional to correct their credit
  • Identity protections services
  • Higher interest rates
  • Fees to replace someone’s personal identification

Although the courts have had a difficult time determining how someone can prove that they were harmed by a particular breach, more and more people are becoming increasingly familiar on how to make decisions about these consequences.

Although the settlement is a bit of a plus for Target, the data breach has hit Target with a difficult time. Struggling with Canada, in addition to going through other changes, the breach independently caused a negative effect to their bottom line.

Target estimated that they have lost nearly $250 million in costs associated with the breach. Finally, we can still expect this number to increase, as there are additional claims from three of the major credit card companies.

For more information on the breach visit Target’s data breach FAQ.

 

 

 

 

 

Grow your sales with Gift Cards

Posted on February 28, 2015
Kubera

No matter what business type of retail business you have, it’s a great idea to consider having a gift card program – both egift cards and plastic gift cards.

With a wide range of solutions available, gift cards are a powerful way for businesses to grow their sales. In 2014, $124 billion will be loaded on gift cards in the US, a five percent increase year over year. Although growth in this sector is expected to slow, there is immense opportunity in egift cards that will offset that slower growth.

“The gift card market has moved beyond novelty and is now firmly in the mainstream,” CEB TowerGroup Senior Research Director Brian Riley.

In addition, notable figures from TowerGroup’s research that reflect this growth include open network branded cards, retailer gift cards, restaurants and miscellaneous. Furthermore, open network branded cards increased by $2 billion to $45 billion over 2013-2014. Retailer card volume also saw additional two billion dollar growth year over year for a $41 billion total. Restaurants saw no growth at $19 billion and the miscellaneous segment grew by 1$ billion to $13 billion during this period.

Gift cards are both popular and convenient for customers and “retailers can count on consumers to spend more money on gift cards than their actual face value”. While customers enjoy the convenience, businesses can earn more by having this option available.

While increasing your sales there are several other benefits that make gift cards profitable.

Gift cards allow for smaller businesses to compete with big business.  When it comes to gift giving, consumers consider gift cards. For example, although your customer may prefer your coffee shop, if you don’t have the option, it’s likely they will choose a bigger brand that has a well-established program. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Customers are less sensitive to pricing when they have gift cards. A study conducted by First Data, reported that 72% of gift card shoppers spent more than the original gift card value when making purchases. With this in mind, consider offering your customers free gift cards with a small value. It’s likely that they will overspend, increasing your revenue in the long term.

Gift Cards bring in new business. According to the same study by First Data 11% of gift card receivers never or rarely visited the location of the merchant who sold the gift card. Remember that free gift card you gave away? Maybe that card increased your customer retention or maybe that re-gifted it to someone new, visiting your store for his or her first time.

In addition to the mentioned above, cards create a connection between your customers and your store and can give your business a better image or a sense of “modernity”.

Gift cards are also very customizable, easy to set up and there are various options to choose from that make these programs affordable (profitable).

Interested in learning more about gift cards? Give us a call.

Growing your business with loyalty programs

Posted on February 15, 2015
Kubera

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 10.34.52 PMIf you haven’t considered using a loyalty card platform already, there are plenty of good reasons to get started.

Loyalty programs offer your customers a wide range of benefits while simultaneously allowing you to build a closer connection with your customers.

Over time, your customers will appreciate the rewards they receive from your loyalty program. As they continue to do business with you, your brand can become the top of these consumers’ consideration sets. In the long term, these customers have a greater lifetime value that exceeds customer lifetime value without any loyalty program in place. Typically, businesses that have some sort of loyalty program are more profitable than those with out.

According to Ackroo, 78% of cardholders use loyalty cards every time they shop. So over 3 in every 4 customers that visit your business could benefit from a loyalty program.

Consider your favorite coffee place for example. Let’s say that every time you buy 5 coffees, your 6th coffee is free. It’s likely that this offer would prevent you from spending your money anywhere else and you might end up catching yourself buying more coffee than normal.

Some better examples of loyalty programs include reward dollars, threshold-based loyalty, special & time-based offers.

Reward dollars are great for customers who shop frequently at your location. As they spend money with their loyalty card, they receive a percentage of their total spending back on their card. Customers can then use those reward dollars for future purchases.

Nester’s Market, the grocery chain has this type of program in place. As a frequent shopper, there’s nothing better than realizing you’re able to pay off your groceries for the week when you get to the checkout.

Threshold-based loyalty gives customers’ spending goals where they can collect rewards once they have earned enough points or dollars on their card. These goals are pre-determined by your company.

A good example would be air miles with Aeroplan. Once an Aeroplan customer earns enough points, they are able to redeem these points towards their flights with Air Canada. At times these savings can be significant or even earn you a free flight.

Special and time-based offers are loyalty incentives where your business would offer its customers a special promotion that only loyalty program customers can enjoy.

Best Buy offers events, has limited time offers, and special discounts for its Reward Zone members. Only Reward Zone members can enjoy these special discounts and events. On occasion, their promotions for Reward Zone members can be similar to Boxing Day deals that would normally only happen once a year. Reward Zone customers appreciate this customer service and it’s proven to be a very successful initiative for the brand.

In addition to spending more than an average customer by being a part of your loyalty program, these loyal customers are more likely to promote your business through word of mouth.

At Kubera, we believe strongly in loyalty card programs. We are proud of the benefits and success that our merchants have achieved so far. From our experience, there’s no question that loyalty programs are one of the best ways for businesses to build closer ties with their best customers.

 

Target, saying goodbye to Canada

Posted on January 28, 2015
Kubera

On January 15th Target announced its departure from Canada. This means closing all 133 Canadian stores, where Target will incur a $5.4 billion pre-tax loss in their fourth quarter.

target-canada-office

Target had several issues when trying to enter the Canadian market.

In addition to the massive breach that is costing the company millions, it opened too many stores all at once, had several smaller stores with mediocre locations, higher perceived pricing, and huge inventory management problems. With its difficulty on the in-store experience, many Canadians gave up on Target all together.

Leaving Canada is no doubt a smart move for the company, as Target Canada didn’t catch on with consumers and they were “losing money every day,” according to Target’s CEO Brian Cornell.

The exit of the American big box will leave a gap in the Canadian retail market for many businesses to fill. This gap includes small and large businesses alike. With Target gone there’s opportunity for these companies to sell their own products and reach more customers: mom-and-pop shops and companies like the Hudson’s Bay Company, Canadian Tire and BestBuy Canada are just a few examples.

There’s also some negative impact to Target’s exit. These include the massive job losses, retailers relying on Target customer overflow, future deals with businesses supplying Target’s inventory, companies who were partnering with Target, and even smaller stores who needed to buy in bulk from Target to supply their own shops. In addition, landlords will also have a difficult time filling the vacant space that Target was leasing.

For example, the Globe and Mail references Cocoa Jewelry Inc., a company that was meant to design an exclusive jewelry line for Target. The company had spent over a year working with Target but couldn’t get their product on Target’s shelves.

So now what?

Target owes money to nearly 1,800 businesses and other agencies for over $5 billion owed.

Who is owed money? Small business, large businesses, the Retail Council of Canada, Revenue Quebec, The Canada Revenue Agency and a long list that is over 44 pages long.

It’s not all bad for Target Corporation. If Target were to stay they could have lost hundreds of millions of dollars every year for some time. If Target had been a more calculated with its approach, they could have saved this disaster and the company’s exit from our market.

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