Macy’s Shopkick Test Confirms Value of iBeaon

This week, Macy’s (NYSE:M) began a pilot program testing Apple’s (NASDQ: AAPL) iBeacon technology in certain stores, a step towards validating the long-time efforts by Apple to grow its Bluetooth location-sensing technology.

In its partnership with rewards app Shopkick, Macy’s has several Bluetooth transmitters in a few departments of its stores in New York and San Francisco. The test, with a few Shopkick employees to start out, will last for several weeks before being rolled out to a wider group.

In actuality, Shopkick adapted the technology Apple built into its latest mobile software. Shopkick’s shopBeacons enables shoppers with iPhones and some Android phones to have their Shopkick app “woken up” by a signal from Bluetooth transmitters when they enter Macy’s, even if their phones are in sleep mode, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Secret Service Investigating Rash of Card Fraud in Northwest, Supermarket Wholesaler May be to Blame

The Secret Service is investigating a rash of credit and debit card fraud reported by customers of more than a dozen banks and credit unions in the Northwest. Officials have not yet been able to determine the amount of losses, but hundreds of cards have been compromised.

“For the Spokane region, it’s a substantial fraud incident,” Kevin Miller, the agent in charge of the Secret Service’s office in Spokane, Wash., told the Spokesman-Review, calling it the largest outbreak of credit card fraud he’s seen in nine years in Spokane.

How Google Plans to Transform Mobile Payments

Do consumers want credit card information stored on a SIM card controlled by a wireless carrier, or are they comfortable with a new near-field communication (NFC) technology as an alternative? Google has positioned the technology necessary to make the latter option a reality.

With last week’s unveiling of the latest updates to the Android operating system, which is now powered by Google’s KitKat on Nexus 5 smartphone, the tech giant has drawn the line in the sand in a quest for dominance in the mobile payments marketplace.

Will E-Commerce Holiday Sales Suffer?

Thanks to consumers’ economic concerns and the government shutdown this fall, various pundits and researchers are predicting softer e-commerce sales during the 2013 holiday season. However, those predictions are offset by other, more positive outlooks and well, common sense.

The latest sour forecast comes from comScore, which found that U.S. consumers spent 13 percent more on e-commerce – representing $53.2 billion in total sales – for the third quarter of 2013.

How to Combat the Growing Retail Shrink Fiasco

All retailers know that combating shrink is one of their biggest challenges and one of the biggest financial sinkholes for their businesses. A new study reveals the severity of the problem globally, but also offers solutions for preventing theft.

Shrink – comprised of shoplifting, employee or supplier fraud, organized retail crime and administrative error – cost the retail industry more than $112 billion globally last year, according to the 2012-2013 Global Retail Theft Barometer, On average, theft represented 1.4 percent of retail sales globally. Since the Barometer is likely basing its numbers on reported crimes and retailer surveys, we think the global shrink problem is much worse.

Amazon’s Sunday Delivery Turns Holiday E-Commerce Upside Down

Amazon’s announcement of Sunday delivery this week effectively turned the traditional e-commerce world upside down. It truly is a game-changer, not only for online retailers but also for brick-and-mortar stores that are battling for their share of sales this holiday season.

Amazon and the United States Postal Service (USPS) said that New York and Los Angeles customers using Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping service can now receive packages on Sunday. Next, Amazon will roll out the service to other major cities including Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix, in 2014.

$45M Hack Holds Lessons to Prevent Prepaid Card Fraud

Hackers have developed sophisticated schemes to funnel money from banks and payment processors into their own pockets. The more processors know about their tactics, the more they can prevent these heists in the future.

Earlier this year, U.S. prosecutors unveiled a coordinated “Ocean’s Eleven”-type scheme in which hackers stole $45 million. They hacked into two processors of prepaid card accounts and compromised 17 accounts from two banks.

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Due to a technical error, this Thursday's StorefrontBacktalk newsletter went out much earlier than normal. We apologize for any inconvenience and are working hard to make sure the same mistake isn't made again. You can expect future issues of the newsletter to arrive at their normal time.

LoopPay Gets The Value of College M-Commerce

Campus Nation Network and mobile commerce platform provider LoopPay formed one of the most genius partnerships this week. Together, the two companies will provide mobile digital wallets to university campus communities across North America.

"We share a vision to have smartphones act as a complete student wallet, which will host transaction payment cards and student IDs, thus eliminating the need to carry traditional wallets," said Will Graylin, CEO of LoopPay in a Campus Nation statement.

How Important is Free Shipping this Holiday Season?

As retailers rush to get their online holiday offers out early, many are missing out on a major selling tool that drives web shoppers to buy: free shipping.

While nearly 35 percent of retailers polled by said they offer free shipping all year, the majority do not. On a positive note, of the retailers that do not offer free shipping year-round, 16.3 percent said they would begin offering it as a holiday promotion the last week in October.

MasterPass Gains Traction With J.Crew Deal

In a deal that will give MasterCard’s (NYSE: MA) MasterPass even more national exposure, J.Crew is teaming up with MasterCard’s digital wallet service to allow its online shoppers to checkout using MasterPass.

Already, Masterpass’s digital commerce platform is being used by Beyond the Rack, Currys,, Newegg and PC World. MasterCard also boasts that more than 20,000 retailers in the UK, US, Canada and Australia, utilize its digital wallet.

Square Inks Deal with Staples But Starbucks’ POS Use Falters

While Square signed a new merchandising deal with Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS), the payment processor may not be moving fast enough for Starbucks.

Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz said last week he is stepping down from Square’s board of directors. Schultz joined the board last year after Starbucks invested $25 million in the startup and said it would use Square to process its payments. While the coffee chain sells Square's portable card readers, it has not installed Square’s Square Stand hardware at point-of-sale.

Google, Apple Duke it Out in Mobile Wallet Loyalty Battle

Even though Google is making gains in mobile loyalty with Google Wallet, Apple Passbook is still the industry veteran and leader in the space, some analysts say.

Consumers Concerned about Privacy in Loyalty Programs

While retailers spend millions of dollars annually to provide the latest and greatest rewards programs to shoppers, many consumers just don’t get it. Nearly a third (32 percent) of Americans say the privacy of their personal information is an important attribute of a loyalty program, according to a new survey from market research firm Mintel.

In addition, more than one in 10 of the 2,000 consumers surveyed expressed frustration or dissatisfaction with too much personal information being requested during enrollment. Ten percent believe they have a lack of control over the privacy of their information, Mintel’s “Retail Loyalty Programs 2013” report found.

PayPal Tells Gov't How to Improve Electronic Payments Regulation

PayPal (NASDAQ: EBAY) is telling global governments how they can better regulate technology companies--especially, of course, payment processors such as itself. Really.

“It’s a common refrain among technology leaders that regulatory processes are far too slow to adapt. The general sense is that government cannot keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and creativity that is at the heart of today’s successful business operations,” Brian Bieron, executive director of Global Public Policy for eBay, wrote on the PayPal Forward blog this week.

Is Mobile Photo Banking the Future?

Photo banking may become more widely accepted by consumers, as U.S. Bank rolls out its latest photo banking product.

Starting in November, U.S. Bank (NYSE: USB) will offer Mitek’s (NASDAQ: MITEK) Mobile Photo Balance Transfer™ to its mobile banking customers. Here’s how it works: customers snap a photo of a credit card payment coupon using their mobile device and send it to U.S. Bank to apply for a balance transfer to a U.S. Bank credit card.

The financial giant launched mobile-enabled credit card balance transfers this week, as it continues to ramp up its photo banking strategy. U.S. Bank already offers remote check deposit via mobile phone users’ cameras along with Mobile Photo Bill Pay.

Future of M-Payments Uncertain, NFC or Not

Wireless carriers’ lack of support for NFC mobile phones and consumers’ slow adoption of mobile payments have analysts worried about the future of m-payments.

Strategy Analytics recently lowered its NFC projections, saying that 115 million NFC handsets will be responsible for spending $48 billion via NFC phones by 2017, down from an estimated 158 million phones spending $53 billion in its July forecast.

PayPal Waives Payment Processing Fees for Startups

Looking to generate awareness about its payment processing services, PayPal (NASDAQ: EBAY) is waiving the processing fees for some global startup businesses.

PayPal Vice President of Growth Stan Chudnovsky said the global payment company would waive up to $50,000 in processing fees in the first 18 months in its PayPal Startup Blueprint program.

“Every dollar matters when people are starting and running a new company. Every dime, every penny. Many of us here at PayPal have been there before: PayPal itself was a very small startup company just 15 years ago,” Chudnovsky wrote on the company’s PayPal Forward blog.

Retailers’ Mobile POS Use to Triple, but Current Use Remains Low

We are happy to hear the news that retailers’ use of mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems is expected to triple by 2018, according to a new survey.

While only 26 percent of retailers currently have mobile POS systems deployed, more than half of the 100 retail executives surveyed by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Retail Touchpoints plan to implement the technology by 2018.

Apple Releases new iPad, but Android Debate Rages On

While Apple debuted its lighter, faster iPad Air tablet with much fanfare this week, tech analysts debate whether shoppers will make more transactions with Apple or Google’s Android platform in the future.

One of the main sticking points for some consumers is Apple’s price tag. The iPad Air starts at $499 and the iPad Mini 2 is $399, both of which are at the high end of the tablet market, Jan Dawson, chief telecommunications analyst at Ovum, a technology research and consulting firm, told Internet Retailer.