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MWC: Visa makes wearables payable

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Visa announced at Mobile World Congress that it is expanding its Visa Ready program to include Internet of Things companies, such as manufacturers of wearables, automobiles, appliances, public transportation services, clothing and almost any other connected device.

Emerging IoT companies will join mobile device manufacturers, including mobile point-of-sale acceptance (mPOS) providers, mobile NFC-enabled device manufacturers and other technology partners in the Visa Ready Program.

The Visa Ready Program gives companies one seamless path to integrate secure payments into their products and services. Visa Ready partners receive access to industry best practices, tools and resources, and Visa’s Digital Enablement Program (VDEP), which includes streamlined access to Visa Token Service (VTS). The Visa Token Service, an innovative security technology, allows secure mobile and digital payments anywhere there is an Internet connection.

The first IoT companies to join the Visa Ready Program will focus on payments for wearables and automobiles. Initial Visa Ready partners include Accenture, Coin, Giesecke & Devrient, Fit Pay, and Samsung, who will work with device manufacturers including Chronos and Pebble, to help embed secure payments in consumer devices and have those devices certified as Visa Ready.

Mobile technology is accelerating the pace of change in the payments industry, helping open up new possibilities for a generation of consumers who increasingly rely on connected devices to manage their money, shop, pay and get paid. The number of IoT enabled devices is expected to reach 50 billion by 2020 according to Cisco, providing a huge opportunity for secure payments to be a feature in just about any form factor.

“More and more, consumers are relying on smart appliances and connected devices to make their lives easier,” said Jim McCarthy, executive vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa Inc. “By adding payments to these devices, we are turning virtually any Internet connection into a commerce experience – making secure payments seamless, and ultimately more accessible, to merchants and consumers.”

Visa Ready Program for IoT

The Visa Ready Program is a commercial program designed to provide innovators with a path to help ensure that devices, software and solutions can initiate or accept Visa payments. It also provides a framework for collaboration with Visa, as well as guidance and best practices to access the power of the Visa network. Mobile point-of-sale acceptance (mPOS) providers, mobile NFC-enabled device manufacturers, and chip and platform providers are already playing a critical role in enabling new ways to pay and benefiting from the Visa Ready Program.

The Visa Ready Program for IoT will also enable device manufacturers to evaluate, develop and potentially adopt new payment methods that are already approved by Visa, and can help financial institutions and merchants drive growth by expanding the use and acceptance of electronic payments globally.

Visa Token Service

As part of the Visa Ready Program, all participants will use the Visa Token Service (VTS) security technology that replaces sensitive payment account information found on payment cards, such as the 16-digit account number, with a unique digital identifier that can be used to process payments without exposing actual account details.

Visa Partner Quotes: 

Visa’s partners around the world are sharing their views on Visa Ready program for IoT manufacturers:

  • “This is the type of secure, frictionless payment enabler that we are looking to include in commercial solutions as clients start experimenting with how best to take advantage of the IoT,” said Anand Swaminathan, managing director of growth & strategy, Accenture Digital.  “We lead a range of initiatives with contextual commerce capabilities that could integrate Visa Token Services. We are looking forward to seeing where else Visa Token Services will help make IoT-enabled payments easier for customers across any number of situations.”
  • “Chronos is focused on bringing the very best of today’s technology to the items you already wear; creating seamless devices by distilling functionality and technology only to those that provide meaningful interactions,” said Luke Fromowitz, co-founder and CTO, Chronos. “Chronos believes payment on the wrist is one of those interactions; there is no quicker or more convenient method for payment than tapping your Chronos powered watch at the register. Partnering with Coin and Visa has allowed us to quickly bring this technology to the Chronos platform and help push the standard of payment processes into the future.”
  • “Coin is excited to be a Visa strategic partner in bringing secure payments to IoT devices. We’re giving wearables makers like Chronos, enabled by Coin, a seamless solution to integrate payment functionality,” said Kanishk Parashar, CEO and co-founder of Coin. “Our partnership with Visa is significant because of how it enables payment functionality on everyday devices. This is a big opportunity for the rapidly growing wearables market, projected to reach $53 billion in sales by 2019.”
  • “Visa Ready is about opening secure, convenient payment capabilities to a wider range of products and enhancing the overall user experience,” said Michael Orlando, co-founder and chief executive officer of Fit Pay Inc., which has developed a payment platform services for wearable devices. “Integrating our wearable payment platform with the world’s largest card network is a critical step to bringing contactless payment capabilities to a whole new generation of IoT devices, including Pagaré – a payment smart strap we have developed for the Pebble Time.”
  • “The growing IoT market, particularly wearables, needs secure transactions and connectivity. G&D secures mobile life in the connected society,” noted Axel Deininger, senior vice president and head of the enterprise security OEM division at Giesecke & Devrient. “We are pleased to work with Visa on their new program.”
  • “We’re thrilled to be one of the first smartwatch makers in the Visa Ready Program,” said Eric Migicovsky, founder and chief executive officer of Pebble. “More than ever, today’s consumers value products that make their lives easier. Having the ability to make secure payments directly from your wrist is convenient and a great example of how a smartwatch can be helpful in your everyday life.”

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Epic Games brings a Nite-mare to Android

Epic Games’ decision to not publish games through Google Play inadvertently opens a market to Android virus makers, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, decided to take the high road by skipping Google Play’s app distribution market and placing a third-party installer for its games on its website. While this is technically fine, it is not recommended for the average user, because allowing third-party installers on one’s smartphone opens up the possibility of non-signed and malicious software to be run on the smartphone. 

In June, malware researchers at ESET warned Android gamers that malicious fake versions of the Fortnite app had been created to steal personal information or damage smartphones. A malware researcher demonstrated how the fake applications works in the Tweet below.

An example on how one can get infected by downloading the Fortnite app from Google Play.

While the decision to bypass Google Play was a bold move on Epic Games’ part, it has been a long time coming for app developers to move their premium apps off Google’s Play Store. The two major app distributors, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, take a 30% cut of every purchase made through their app distribution platforms. 

The App Store is currently the only way to get apps on a non-modified iOS device, which is why Epic Games had no choice for Fortnite to be in the App Store. On the other hand, Android phones can install packages downloaded through the browser, which makes the Play Store almost unnecessary for the gaming company. 

The most interesting part of this development is that Google is not the “bad guy” and Epic Games is no saviour to other game developers. Epic Games is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation and has resources like large-scale servers to distribute and update its games, a big marketing budget to ensure everyone knows how to get its games, and server security to protect against malware. 

Resources of this scale allow the game company to turn a cold shoulder to Google’s Play Store distribution and focus on its own, in-house solution. 

That said, installing packages without the Google Play Store must be done carefully, and it is essential to do homework on where a package is downloaded. Moreover, when a package is installed outside of the Google Play Store, a security switch to block the installation of third party apps must be turned off. This switch should be turned back on immediately after the third party package is installed. 

This complex amount of steps makes it less worthwhile to install third party apps, in favour of rather waiting for them to reach the Play Store.

From a consumer perspective, ESET recommends not installing packages outside of the Google Play Store and to ignore advertisements to download the game from other sources.

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How to take on IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming, whether you like it or not and organisations today will look to platforms and services that help them manage and analyse the streams of data coming from connected devices, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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Today, we are witnessing an explosion in IoT deployments and solutions and are moving towards a world where almost everything you can imagine will be connected. While this opens the door to many possibilities it also comes with its own challenges such as privacy and security.

The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life; it has been a free for all on a daily basis. IoT is a difficult concept for many people to wrap their minds around. Essentially, nearly every business will be affected.

Managing vast quantities of data across increasingly mobile workforces can be tremendously beneficial if done well, but equally can be cumbersome and ineffective if not managed properly. This is why technologies such as mobile edge computing are becoming increasingly popular, helping to increase the prevalence of secure mobile working and data management in the age of IoT.

Unlocking IoT

The evolution of IoT, despite rapid and ongoing technological innovation, is still very much in its fledgling stages. Its potential, though, is demonstrated by the fact that by 2020, Bain anticipates a significant shift in uptake, with roughly 80 per cent of adoptions at that point to have progressed to the stage of either ‘proof of concept’ or extensive implementation. This means that technological innovation in IoT for the enterprise is progressing at a similarly fast rate with many of these solutions being developed with utilities, engineering, manufacturing and logistics companies in mind.

Processing at the edge

For IoT to be adopted at the rate predicted, technology which does not overwhelm current or even legacy systems must be implemented. Mobile edge computing solves this. Such solutions offer processing power at the edge of the network, helping firms with a high proportion of mobile workers to reduce operational strain and latency by processing the most critical data at the edge and close to its originating source. Relevant data can then be sent to the cloud for observation and analysis, thereby reducing the waves of ‘data garbage’ which has to be processed by cloud services.

A logistics manager can feasibly monitor and analyse the efficiency of warehouse operations, for example, with important data calculations carried out in real-time, on location, and key data findings then sent to the cloud for centrally-located data scientists to analyse.

The work of wearables

The potential of IoT means it not only has the scope to change the way people work, but also where they work. While widespread mobile working is a relatively new trend in industries such as banking and professional services, for CIOs in sectors where working on the move is inherent – such as logistics and field maintenance – mobility is high on the agenda.

Wearables – and specifically smart glasses – have started to gain traction within the business world. With mobile edge computing solutions acting as the gateway, smart glasses such as Toshiba’s assisted reality AR 100 viewer solution have been designed to benefit frontline and field-based workers in industries such as utilities, manufacturing and logistics. In the renewable energy sector, for example, a wind turbine engineer conducting repairs may use assisted reality smart glasses to call up the schematics of the turbine to enable a hands-free view of service procedures. This means that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert and have additional information sent through, thereby saving time and money by eradicating the need for extra personnel to be sent to the site.

The time is ripe for organisations to look to exploit the age of IoT to improve the productivity and safety of their workers, as well as the end service delivered to customers. In fact, Toshiba’s recent ‘Maximising Mobility’ report found that 49 per cent of organisations believe their sector can benefit from the hands-free functionality of smart glasses, while 47 per cent expect them to deliver improved mobile working and 41 per cent foresee better collaboration and information sharing. Embracing IoT technologies such as mobile edge computing and wearable solutions will be an essential step for many organisations within these verticals as they look to stay on top of 21st century working challenges.

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