Browsing "Technology"

Zapp – One Step Closer to the Digital Wallet

Jan 17, 2014   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Latest Product Updates, Technology  //  Comments Off on Zapp – One Step Closer to the Digital Wallet

Zapp Banner

While 2013 was all about contactless payments, 2014 might become the year of cardless payments. The next step towards a fully digital wallet is on its way this autumn, and a host of Britain’s banks have already signed up to use it.

Zapp ScreenThe Zapp mobile payment service will allow customers to make payments in-store and online using their smartphones and tablets. The firm describes itself as ‘the simplest and most secure way to pay’.

The versatile service uses near-field communication technology in stores, allowing shoppers to tap their smartphone on a contactless terminal to make a payment in the same way as a contactless card.

It can also be used for shopping online. Shoppers using a tablet will be able to access the app directly, while online merchants will be able to send a notification to a user’s phone, from which the payment can then be made.

And if customers are sent bills with QR codes, consumers will be able to scan these with their phones to launch the app and pay through their smartphone.

About Zapp: How Can It Be Used?

  • In-store. Tap and pay using your phone.
  • Online. Merchants will send an alert to your phone that will launch the app.
  • At home. Scan QR codes to pay household bills.

What’s New?

  • Direct link to bank account – no third parties.
  • View your account balance before you make a payment.

Who Has Signed Up?

  • HSBC / First Direct
  • Nationwide
  • Santander
  • Metro Bank
  • SagePay
  • WorldPay
  • Sainsbury’s (2015)
  • Asda (2015)
  • House of Fraser (2015)

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Costing the Earth: Can Electric Cars Really Save You a Fortune?

Oct 25, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Money Saving Tips, Technology  //  Comments Off on Costing the Earth: Can Electric Cars Really Save You a Fortune?

Fuel economy, tax breaks, and a host of other money-saving measures make electric cars a surprisingly attractive proposition for resistant Brits. Joe Cox of Car Loan 4U investigates the opportunities.


For millions in the UK, the cost of motoring comes second only to our rent or mortgage in terms of outgoing costs, and with inflation high and energy bills continuing to rise, it’s difficult to see where the so called ‘squeezed middle’ can find real savings. Certainly, prices at the pump aren’t set to drop anytime soon and paying car tax is inevitable, right?

Well, not necessarily. What if you could run a vehicle that didn’t cost you a penny in petrol and was exempt from car tax? Would that not save us a fortune? It’s an argument that the proponents of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) have been trying to put across for years, and it seems, with the Government’s latest tranche of measures designed to encourage their uptake, they may now have a point.

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Banks and Consumers Warned to Defend Themselves Against Cyber Attacks

Oct 2, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Breaking News, Technology  //  Comments Off on Banks and Consumers Warned to Defend Themselves Against Cyber Attacks

Die Hard 4.0 Timothy Olyphant

If you’ve seen Die Hard 4.0, you’ll remember the ‘fire sale’ carried out by Timothy Olyphant’s cyberterrorist gang – a series of attacks designed to fracture the country’s digital infrastructure. Now, Britain’s banks are being urged to improve their security systems in a bid to counter increasingly sophisticated attacks from cyber criminals. And consumers are being advised to watch their own backs as well.

The Treasury has been expressing concerns at the growing threat from cyber attacks and the need for financial insitutions to fortify their defences. Along with the Bank of England, the City Regulator and government agencies, the Treasury is concerned that advances in cyber crime could lead to banks being targeted, which would have severe knock-on effects.

The “high degree of interconnectedness” within the financial system left it particularly vulnerable, the Financial Policy Committee added. Leaders of major institutions must ensure that “a concrete plan” is in place to protect against cyber attacks, it proposed.

Directors have now been given six months to submit plans that show how their institution’s security systems will be improved. The Bank of England must also analyse its own systems as part of the initiative.

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Contactless Cards: Have You Joined the Revolution Yet?

Sep 13, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Credit Cards, Technology  //  Comments Off on Contactless Cards: Have You Joined the Revolution Yet?

Visa Contactless

Have you joined the contactless revolution yet? There are now 34.5 million ‘contactless’ cards in circulation, carrying out eight million transactions every month. And numbers are steadily growing as retailers rush to join the bandwagon. So, what are contactless cards, how safe are they and what are the advantages of using them?

The system works using radio frequency identification technology (RFID) – similar to that used for Oyster cards – which allows card holders to ‘tap’ their debit or credit cards against a terminal to pay for transactions up to the value of £20.

It was designed to deliver a quicker and more efficient payment method for small transactions that would save time for customers and retailers. It also allows customers to monitor more of their spending, as all transactions are itemised on statements.

The service has not gone without a few hiccups. Shortly after M&S installed the contactless payment system across 644 stores earlier this year, some customers reported that the terminals had inadvertently taken payments from cards held much further away.

And this is a particular problem when customers are accustomed to ‘swiping’ their entire wallet for the one contactless card to be registered.

Contactless cards can now be used to pay for bus journeys in London, with passengers receiving the discounted Oyster fare. But they will encounter problems if they raise a wallet or cardholder containing more than one contactless card towards the payment terminal.

Additional concerns about security remain, as customers are only rarely asked to enter a PIN. If a card goes missing, it’s fairly easily for a fraudulent user to rack up a number of small-value transactions.

But this is guaranteed by the banks, says Dave Birch of Consult Hyperion, which makes it even safer than cash.

If somebody stole my wallet right now, it’s got my contactless Visa card in it and it’s got £20 in it. I’ll never see that £20 again, whereas if some miscreant steals my card and goes and buys a few coffees with it, the bank will give me the money back. The bank’s promise is unequivocal. So, to me, that’s as safe as it gets.

With more retailers coming on board, it will be difficult to avoid the new age of transaction technology.

So why not learn more about the benefits? Check out this informative video (transcript below) for more details.

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No Social, No Sale. Watching Out for Suspect Firms

Jul 22, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Commentary / Editorial, Technology  //  2 Comments

In this social media driven age, does the absence of a company profile on Twitter or Facebook now trigger alarm bells where it didn’t before?

I’m not a fan of social media, even as I admit how necessary it’s become. But it’s now reached a point, I think, where businesses in certain sectors without a social profile are effectively admitting they’ve got something to hide.

Not long ago, I was bemoaning the regulatory mess that presides over the advertising of financial products. If you missed the story, it related to the banning of an advert for payday lender Cash Lady featuring the frequently bankrupt Kerry Katona.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) quashed a television advert that lured customers into applying for high-cost loans – over three months after it was launched. The Office of Fair Trading, which regulates the payday lending sector, could only be consulted on one of the four issues raised about it.

Well, the ASA has been in action again recently, concerning a rather shocking assertion by one of these parasite claim firms that public sector workers should aim to cash in a lump of their pensions with ‘ZERO’ impact, regardless of their age.

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Make and Save Money Through Parking. A Look at ParkatmyHouse

Feb 27, 2013   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Money Saving Tips, Technology  //  1 Comment

We’re always looking for practical ways of making and saving money. It’s surprising how many we simply overlook. Not long ago, I was living just two miles away from Heathrow Airport, where only one of our two assigned parking spaces was ever used. It was an opportunity lost.

ParkatmyHouse is a fine example of an online parking marketplace that connects drivers with parking spaces to rent, helping motorists to save hundreds on extortionate parking fees and allowing homeowners to make extra cash by sharing their driveways.

In the last six months, the site has facilitated parking arrangements worth almost one million pounds for its users. This, it estimates, is a saving of roughly 75% on standard council, private, and venue car-parking costs.

It’s not the only site offering this solution, but the free-to-join community has been active for seven years, and the service clearly benefits from the strong availability that has been procured over that time. Indeed, ParkatmyHouse describes itself as the world’s largest online parking community, with over a quarter of a million members worldwide.

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