Archive for the technology Category

Integrated transaction platforms

Posted in General, Innovation, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2010 by newideasconsult

With online technology developing quite aggressively we have an ideal opportunity to design and commission all-inclusive solutions for enterprise clients. You can also define this as multi level x-commerce solutions, where the traditional x-store or x-mall or multi-store customer facing platform is completely integrated with the transaction processing platform.

Having one platform that integrates all the required components for environments with a high volume of transactions to operate with the minimum external assistance makes me quite heady.  For example imagine a system that starts out day one with an integrated eBay, PayPal and Skype module.  Having the time to work out each component’s role with the platform, clearly defining where data can be shared within a common database, and setting out combined parameters for a smooth UI, and so on, could start us off on a whole new path in regards to x-commerce.

There are so many advantages to such an initial integrated model not just from a technology point of view, but also in terms of operations.  One view of a customer, one process to resolve disputes, one fee recipe to determine all revenue contributors in a transaction from end to end, and so on and so on.  Are there examples of such combined and integrated solutions already?

Payments future landscape

Posted in General, Innovation, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2010 by newideasconsult

These past few months have been rather interesting in terms of the payments industry and the subtle shift in consumer perceptions.  One of the most amusing to me has been the clear lead Paypal has in the e-venture payment space to any other brand, card associations included.  This may not be a good thing in my opinion, but undoubtably it has happened.  Ask any e-venture owner what payment method they will be accepting on their platform or site, and at least 7 out of 10 will tell you Paypal.  Not Visa or Mastercard, but Paypal, regardless the obvious issues around its regulation and the bad risk prevention policies it employs.

This to me indicates a real challenge traditional payment companies may face during the next few years, which is how they can win back the market from ‘upstarts’ such as Paypal, Moneybookers, mobile networks, and the many alternative payment methods in the market today.  With the strength of the Paypal brand on the Internet, and to me this means their brand strength in terms of the Internet savvy generations, as well as the rapidly growing mobile payment services, what will the PCI (payment card industry) founding members (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Diners and JCB) do to retain their brand strength or for some regain their brand strength?  Seems to me that as one accepts virtual payment instruments and mobile phone based solutions as the way forward, it removes or distances the payment methods used from a card, the base tool used in the credit card growth the past 4 decades.  Once NFP, mobile payments, and the next generation of Paypal type solutions have rolled out, the card brand will be completely hidden, and in my view, forgotten in the not-so-distant future.

Still some way to go before we can say goodbye to the plastic card (magstripe and chip), but it seems to me the subtle shift in market direction may just ring in that future much sooner than many may have thought.  Unlike the media industry’s late wake-up to the power of virtual distribution, the card payment industry may just have enough time to learn the new rules of the payments game, and hopefully apply them wisely to retain their future market share and brand strength.  Some may not be able to transition, as the departure from card may be too big a shift in paradigm for them, but those that do would have their years of payments experience married to new tech solutions that could eat the Paypals of the future for breakfast.

Google releases the first Chrome OS code… cue the doomsayers!

Posted in General, Standards, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2009 by newideasconsult

I just love how we are as human beings, especially the geek brigade.  Whether IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Novell, any Linux distro, and now Google, we are always either completely in love or completely out of love with their product/service, and highly complimentary or highly critical!

This past week Google makes more news and some code available of the upcoming Chrome OS, and makes it very clear that this is still pre-alpha stuff, just to get us warmed up to the idea. No sooner has the day ended or out come the doomsayers (doomsayer – ‘One who predicts calamity at every opportunity.’ – thefreedictionary.com), and we have blogs and articles all over the web stating how Google missed it, how Chrome OS is dead before it has even begun, and how Chrome OS will take down Microsoft, or how Microsoft will take down Google, and so on and so on and so on.  Btw, if you want to know my personal favorite, it has to be Randall C. Kennedy’s Why Chrome OS will fail — big time … EISH! and you have to be South African to understand that I am not complimenting him here at all!

With Microsoft it was the same, remember Bing?  Wow, we saw all kinds of comments coming out of the woodwork on that one, no matter that for once Microsoft started getting it right with the move to a single search platform within their offerings, or that the data on usage in those first weeks had very little to do with Bing’s ultimate success as a search engine and more to do with people trying out the new platform.

Doomsayers are always going to be around, but these days of instant reports over multiple mediums, pretend experts, self promoting blogs, reporters writing reports based on the opinions of other reporters who heard news from unnamed often unverified sources, tend to lead to some seriously misguided comments!   And since when have we become so cynical that we shoot down new ideas even before they’ve truly been tested?  Imagine hearing about two brothers who made bicycles for a living believing they could FLY!

Are companies also guilty here? Possibly, watching Apple over the years they seem to have a trick to successfully release news of new ideas, concepts, services or products, though they too have not been spared this treatment.  I don’t think Google is perfect in how it does that either, and so too Microsoft or even Apple.  With the ease with which people can publish their own thoughts on anything these days (you’re reading mine right now) controlling how these new concepts or products are written about in better and more accurate ways, may become the issue for public debate, but it is something we as geeks can improve on here and now.

Like Google Wave, Chrome OS already suffers from public hype, the perceived solution that it is not, and I wonder just what is going to happen when finally it is released to the world.  For the greater part of that hype we the geeks are to blame.  There is so much misconception from the very crowd of people others look to for balanced opinions, that it is depressing to me to think what these doomsayers are doing when they are not writing such drivel.

Can you imagine being an owner of a company where these individuals work, and the critical decisions they make on your behalf?  Just imagine how many dollars their opinionated choices have already cost you, because they prefer to follow their own opinion instead of conducting a ‘fair evaluation’ of a new solution without bias?

When a product is put out to the world in code for a collaboration or comment so early on in its development it would be nice if we could all put our collective efforts into trying it out and making constructive comments about the code, the intended functions that are or are not delivered, and the resulting user experience only, instead of acting as the town-criers that we are not and prophesying biased drivel.

We all suffer from this habit of isolating ourselves into camps, don’t we? Geeks and technologists are so guilty of this, myself included, but lately I have realized that when it comes down to it, no product or service is perfect, no brand saintly, and no consultant worth his or her salt should pretend otherwise.

We should be ‘cross-platform, open-minded individuals’ who look at the problems experienced by our clients, their budget and resource constraints and then to the pool of available solutions or solution components that could offer them relief without taking brand bias with us into that decision-making process.

The EU will not be the end of Microsoft, Bing does not mean the end of Google, Chrome OS does not mean death to all other OS’s, and Google’s Phone won’t kill Nokia or iPhone for that matter.  Logic must prevail when we offer opinion, we must base what we say on fact, and we must know when to say the things we do.  If we do this our integrity remains intact and those who value our opinions become better informed and make better choices.


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Paypal’s open payment API for developers

Posted in General, technology with tags , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2009 by newideasconsult

Its a busy time for Paypal X Integration Center what with the news of an open payments API doing the rounds. The concept is good and opens the door to 3rd party projects that could expand the system’s use and application significantly. I do believe that this method of collaboration always benefits the customers in the end. Google taking their Checkout product into the community from day one proves the point quite well, as 3rd parties, quite often employed by competitors, rushed to comment on and test the Checkout product for Google, which in turn improved their offering to what it is today. Kudos to Paypal for taking a similar approach!

To apply for the documentation and user access, you will need to visit Paypal’s Developer Central and check it out for yourself after applying to participate. By the way, the site can also be accessed at the very easily remembered URL, x.com.

Fundamo in Pakistan

Posted in technology with tags , , , , , , on October 17, 2009 by newideasconsult

Telenor Pakistan and the Tameer Bank announced this week (Oct 14th) that they are launching branchless banking based on the Fundamo product.  This is a wonderful achievement for a team from South Africa who have long strived to deliver their quality product abroad.  Well done also to Telenor Pakistan and the Tameer Bank for selecting a truly South African solution for their mobile banking project.

Microsoft and the EU agree on Internet Browser solution

Posted in Standards, technology with tags , , , , , on July 27, 2009 by newideasconsult

In a surprise announcement on Friday, it seems there has finally been a resolution to the years long battle to get Internet Browser and Windows separate, and to offer Windows users a choice in the browser they wish to use.  I am not yet quite sure of the technicalities (a web page will offer you this choice?), but am confident that a reasonable option may finally be in the offing for users of Windows who prefer to use their own choice of browser brand in Europe.

In terms of users selecting this from a web page as is hinted to in the announcement, I am quite convinced that this will simply lead to a dual browser setup, i.o.w. you select your browser of choice for your personal use, whilst the operating system (Windows) will keep using Internet Explorer in the background for its use.  Not quite a win for the EU then, but I am not sure we can expect any better from Microsoft.

Why do I propogate a complete replacement as opposed to dual use?  Because it will prove once and for all that Microsoft has opened the Windows platform to all brands of browser.  If Microsoft can use your choice of browser, like Firefox or other, as THEIR way to maintain their OS and applications, then we will know for a fact that Microsoft is finally fully accessible to all.  I have a dream…

Authorize.net down? Yep, apparently Fisher Plaza caused it…

Posted in General, Standards, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2009 by newideasconsult

Wow, I read this article on datacenterknowledge.com and was absolutely stunned!  Authorize.net is down, offline and no one using them can currently process credit card transactions.  How could such an excellent processor like Authorize.net not have better networking resilience?  In terms of payment gateways I have always advised that you need a hot site available at all times as this is a business where every second down means money lost to many merchants.  A hot start recovery site is essential, though it seems many switches still prefer a primary site, with a traditional DR site that needs a switchover of x hours to come online.  This seems to be the case with Authorize.net and that is a great disappointment as I expected better from them.  I realize it is never easy to cost these things into your business model, but e-business simply demands better resilience today.  I truly hope for them that they can get things up and rolling soon!

UPDATE1: In a week that saw me battle to access my Google Apps service several times, and reading of yet another data centre failing when Rackspace has some downtime, I finally got the full story through another article at Data Centre Knowledge.  It was truly a bad week for data centres and from this article Fisher Plaza was certainly not alone in their battles.  From their fire to UPS outages to data storage failures, things really looked bad for Rackspace, Google, Fisher Plaza and Authorize.net, and Equinix.  The more interesting point raised by several bloggers is about emergency communications and here I completely agree.  If it seems unavoidable that your service will be down for a while (determine what defines an ‘outage’ to your customer) then the first thing just after you kick your technical staff into action, should be a very strong and robust PR exercise that helps people understand what has gone wrong and what your challenges are for bringing your service back online.  Nothing beats communication, but it still seems that during outages like these customers, partners and clients are still expected to google for news, instead of having a direct communication about the issue from the service provider at fault.  When customers are left to console one another with news that is second hand at best, you are in for trouble!