Friday, July 01, 2011

CorFire Market Watch, 6-17-2011

Week ending June 17, 2011

AmEx Targets Big Banks, Dodges Debit Caps With Prepaid Card

American Express Co. (AXP) is offering a low-cost prepaid card that’s exempt from new U.S. caps on debit- swipe fees and may draw customers from some banks that are trimming rewards programs because of the rules.

AmEx, unlike other prepaid-card issuers, won’t charge for online purchases, monthly maintenance, balance inquiries, activation, replacement cards or when customers reload their accounts through checking and savings accounts, the New York- based lender said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. There will be retail fees for customers who reload with cash, it said.

The cards may be an alternative for customers of the biggest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) Those lenders announced plans to scale back their debit-rewards programs after caps on the swipe fees they collect were enacted last year. Reloadable prepaid cards, and banks and credit unions with assets of less than $10 billion, are exempt….

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Google to Expand Wallet to Europe in 2012; Sees One Wallet Per Phone

LONDON – Google plans to launch its Google Wallet in at least one major European city during the first half of 2012, said Osama Bedier, Google’s vice president of payments, who discounted talk of a coming NFC wallet war in either the United States or Europe.

Bedier, who spoke today at the NFC Payments Europe 2011 conference in London, contends the Google Wallet will be open, adding that the search giant has received a welcoming response among service providers and other prospective participants in Europe, even from mobile operators, he told NFC Times in an interview.

“We found that European partners were willing to move faster (than in the United States),” he said. “There is a better understanding of the whole space. The ecosystem is more collaborative than in the States.”

But as in the United States, some major mobile operators in Europe are planning their own wallets and are unlikely to want to see their brands take a backseat to Google’s, even if Google agrees to put its wallet on the SIM cards that the telcos issue…..

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Starbucks Launches Long-Awaited Android App

Starbucks Corp.'s mobile payments app is finally available for Android smartphone users.

The Seattle company released its first official app on Google Inc.'s Android Market Tuesday night, nearly two years after rolling out a test of its mobile payments service initially available only to users of the Apple Inc. iPhone. The app lets customers pay for purchases by showing cashiers a bar code on the phone's screen.

The Android operating system now exceeds the market share of Apple and Research In Motion Ltd., which makes the BlackBerry.

Starbucks said it focused on iPhone and BlackBerry handsets first because there was higher demand for those platforms. But today the question customers ask the most is "When are you guys going to do an official Starbucks Android app?" Chuck Davidson, category manager for innovation on the Starbucks Card team, said Tuesday during a webcast with reporters and analysts.

A private developer created his own versions of the app early this year. Those unofficial apps have been downloaded more than 160,000 times….

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IDC: Android, Windows Phone to lead smartphone market in 2015

The global smartphone market will grow 55 percent year-over-year in 2011, as a growing segment of subscribers swap their feature phones for more cutting-edge devices, according to research firm IDC.

Vendors will ship 472 million smartphones in 2011, up from 305 million a year ago, IDC forecasts, adding that the smartphone market will grow more than four times the rate of the overall worldwide mobile phone market this year--the firm credits a decline in average selling prices, increased phone functionality and lower-cost data plans among factors driving consumer demand. By 2015, smartphone unit shipments will increase to 982 million, buoyed by accelerating adoption in emerging markets….

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Sony Ericsson to launch range of Android NFC phones

The handset maker has picked NXP to supply it with embedded secure elements and NFC controllers to go into its Android-based Xperia smartphones.

Sony Ericsson is to introduce a "portfolio of smartphones that enable mobile transactions". The handset maker has picked NXP to supply the NXP PN65 NFC solution, which includes the radio controller, the embedded secure element and NFC software, for its Android NFC phones.

"Building on Sony Ericsson's leadership in Android and mobile gaming, the integration of near field communication into our Android-based Xperia portfolio is another step in delivering the most entertaining smartphones," said Jan Uddenfeldt, chief technology officer at Sony Ericsson. "NFC offers our consumers the ability to broaden their communication experience beyond the phone, and we are poised to drive the development of new, exciting and creative entertainment experiences…"

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UK mobile operators form NFC joint venture

Everything Everywhere, which runs the Orange and T-Mobile networks in the UK, Vodafone and Telefónica O2 have agreed to establish a joint venture company that "will deliver the technology required for the speedy adoption of mobile wallet and payments."

The UK's four leading mobile networks have announced plans to create a joint venture company that "will deliver the technology required for the speedy adoption of mobile wallet and payments."

The new company is being set up by Telefónica UK, Vodafone UK and Everything Everywhere, the recently created merger between the UK arms of mobile network operators Orange and T-Mobile, and aims to launch before the end of 2011, subject to clearance from the competition authorities….

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RIM Financial Outlook Dismal, 500,000 Playbooks Shipped

Research in Motion (RIM) announced its first quarter financial results for fiscal 2012 on Thursday, and the outlook isn’t pretty.

Revenue was up 16% but earnings per share and net income were down from Q1 2011. The company said it shipped 13.2 million BlackBerry handheld devices and 500,000 BlackBerry Playbook tablets during the most-recent quarter.

Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said Thursday that RIM is having problems gaining traction in new markets and shipping updated products….

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