- NFT mania is drawing interest from brands that seek to parlay the growing interest in digital assets into more publicity for their campaigns. As part of its new Royal Perks loyalty program launch, Burger King teamed up with NFT marketplace Sweet to gamify NFTs, giving chain loyalists the opportunity to collect digital tokens that unlock yet more rewards once the set is complete.
- It revolves around the new “Keep It Real” marketing push, where celebrities create their ideal BK meal, entering customers into an NFT collectibles game. Guests can scan a QR code on each Keep It Real Meal box to receive one of three collective NFT game pieces. When the full set is collected, guests are programmatically provided a fourth NFT, a reward that could be a 3D digital collectible, free Whopper sandwiches for a year, autographed merchandise or a call with one of the campaign’s celebrity ambassadors. Gamified goodies in NFT form is a digital-first way for Burger King to promote the banning of 120 artificial ingredients from its items but there are other possibilities. Pizza Hut Canada introduced “1 Byte Favourites Pizza,” creating a new digital-with-cheese asset category in the process: the NFP, or “non-fungible pizza.” At a time when NFTs are going for record highs on cryptocurrency marketplaces, Pizza Hut is offering 1 Byte Favourites for record-low prices. Pizza Hut will offer these perfect 8-bit slices (8 bits = 1 byte) for approximately the cost of one real bite of pizza, or 0.0001 ETH.
- McDonald’s France began offering NFTs as prizes. Even though the NFTs will not initially be sold by McDonald’s, the winners of the contest will be able to do whatever they want with them – including selling them. Chip-maker Pringles created and auctioned off some original NFT artwork — of a Pringles can. At the going rate of $600 each, we don’t see a problem. The brand is auctioning off 50 limited-edition pieces of animated artwork as NFTs around a virtual flavor called CryptoCrisp. The bidding started “at the equivalent of around $2 in Ether cryptocurrency,” and was driven as high as $600. A purchase earns the buyer rights to a 1080×1080-pixel 6-second video file of a spinning gold Pringles can and a certificate of authenticity that guarantees its uniqueness. The artwork is being auctioned on the Ethereum-based NFT marketplace platform Rarible.
PayPal has completely revamped its app to focus on an array of services around banking, shopping, investments, communication and cryptocurrencies. Going forward, will payments become a small part of this broad offering? In the case of PayPal, the shift to using digital wallets as opposed to using plastic is escalating – with no reason to believe this shift will stop. This provides a significant advantage when consumers are naturally using the PayPal platform to make online and offline purchases. Despite this advantage, PayPal makes it clear that its desire is not about becoming a “bank,” but about turning PayPal into a banking hub:
For instance, most of the major financial institutions put their rewards points into PayPal, allowing customers to spend points at any of the 32 million merchants supported by PayPal. This was also the strategy to offer a high-yield savings account through Synchrony Bank. With the new savings feature, customers will be able to transfer money between PayPal Savings and their PayPal balances to use for purchases. PayPal’s clear business model is to work hand-in-hand with financial institutions, the networks and the regulators to define what the best value proposition is for consumers and merchants. One of the major benefits PayPal expects to leverage in the rapid development of new services and enhancements to existing services is the size of their active database. Not only do they have over 400 million users, but they also do more than 5 billion transactions a quarter that feeds into their sophisticated AI and machine learning capabilities. The goal is to make the app highly personalized, smarter and easier to use over time.
Specialist account-to-account payments platform Vyne’s innovative full-stack solution enables direct, secure, and faster payments for merchants and consumers alike – challenging the status-quo of current traditional card and alternative payment methods. By transforming the checkout experience payments can be completed by consumers in three-clicks and merchants can engage customers through more digital channels such as QR codes and pay-by-link, which can be sent by email, SMS or in person. Coupling user experience with improved operational merchant services, Vyne empowers business growth by increasing conversion, reducing cost per transaction, streamlining business operations with quick, easy invoicing, and by providing a real-time view of cash-flow, which cannot be offered.
Google is now update for the Google Assistant with “Hey Google, pay for gas” command, while Android Auto is getting new media and connectivity features. Once live, you can pull up to a gas station and say “Hey Google, pay for gas” to Android Auto, your Android phone, or — in the future — Assistant Driving Mode. Select your pump number and then use Google Pay for the transaction. After selecting a fuel grade, you can start fueling. Meanwhile, Android Auto is getting a handful of features. On the entertainment front, Google will show personalized media recommendations. They can be accessed by a new music icon that’s next to the existing player controls in the bottom bar. This opens a carousel of “Media picks for your device” from streaming apps, Assistant news, podcasts, and more. Additionally, users will be able to choose what app opens when Android Auto launches. Google Maps or other navigation applications are currently the default, but any experience can be selected in the future. Connectivity improvements to Android Auto start with being able to choose between SIMs when making calls and sending messages. Meanwhile, “Work Profile” support will let you see messages and calendar events from both the personal and work silo on your phone.
Apple’s iOS 15 brings a major feature to the camera and it is called ‘Live Text’. With Live Text, iOS will now recognise any text in a photo, screenshot, or camera preview thanks to the optical character recognition (OCR) allowing Apple to extract text from any image. Users can now copy and paste, lookup or translate the text in photos, screenshots. Live Text works in Photos, Screenshot, Quick Look, and Safari and in live previews with Camera. It is a system-wide implementation and will appear in all other apps, when you copy-past text. Here’s a detailed look at Live Text. Live Text can then recognise useful information in photos or online images, be it a phone number or an email id. One can also use the Live Text feature in the Camera app by pointing the device camera at a photo or image with text, and then tapping the indicator icon. From here, users will get options to either copy-paste the text, look it up or translate or even make a call, in a case of a phone number. Apple’s system is smart enough to recognise the text it is extracting.
Fintech Payfare is collaborating with Visa, the world leader in digital payments, to add Visa SavingsEdge to its platform, starting with the nationwide DoorDash DasherDirect card program. Visa SavingsEdge gives eligible Visa business cardholders who opt into the program access to savings on qualified purchases at participating merchants. Discounts are credited directly to cardholders’ accounts, with no coupons or codes required. Plus, cardholder participation is absolutely free. Payfare powers faster, digital payments for some of the world’s largest on-demand platforms. Now, with this addition, those gig workers carrying a Visa business card will realize discounts on purchases made in merchant categories related to fuel, auto parts, dining and travel, across national, regional and local merchants. Visa SavingsEdge will give gig workers the ability to take advantage of savings that are typically reserved for large businesses.
- PayPal launched a redesigned PayPal App with a slew of new features that it will roll out incrementally in the US over the coming weeks. Customers will be able to transfer money between PayPal Savings and their PayPal balances to use for purchases.
- The app will also support Direct Deposit, which will let customers add all or a portion of their paychecks to their PayPal accounts, and will have enhanced Bill Pay functionality so users can track, view, and pay their bills. The PayPal App includes a new Shopping hub where customers can discover deals, make purchases, and earn rewards. PayPal will integrate Honey’s offerings—the digital promotions platform it acquired––into the service. PayPal also integrated its crowdsourced fundraising platform, the Generosity Network, directly into the app. And this all-in-one solution could yield substantial cross-promotion opportunities.
- The app will centralize features that PayPal is trying to emphasize, like buy now, pay later (BNPL) and crypto offerings, which should improve user discovery. And the additions may encourage users to spend more time on the app, like offering crypto did. This can lead to a more loyal user base and increase payment volume moving through the app. The new features also help sharpen PayPal’s competitive edge against Square, which has been inching into its territory with its BNPL push and Cash App Pay rollout. As the rivalry heats up, PayPal’s app revamp can help it maintain growth and drive payments volume.
American Express is working with virtual card FinTech Extend to let its business customers create their own virtual cards. The partnership will let American Express Business Card members enroll and create virtual cards, also called tokens, in as little as five minutes using Extend’s app or desktop login. Benefits of the Extend card include quick enrollment, flexibility — businesses can create their own cards and send virtual cards to employees, contractors and vendors — and robust spending control, along with streamlined expense reporting and additional security measures.
Startup Stairwell is launching Inception, a threat-hunting platform that aims to help organizations determine if they were compromised now or in the past. Unlike other threat-detection platforms, Inception takes an “inside out” approach to cybersecurity, which starts by looking inwards at a company’s data. This data, all of which is treated as suspicious, is continuously evaluated in light of new indicators and new threat intelligence. this enables organizations to detect anomalies within just days, rather than the industry average of 280 days, as well as to “bootstrap” future detections.
Retail giant Amazon and minority-led community development financial institution (FI) Lendistry announced a joint pilot program focused on helping (SMBs) selling on Amazon’s platform grow more quickly. Amazon Community Lending is a business financing platform through Amazon Lending that will give U.S.-based Amazon sellers — almost all of whom are SMBs — short-term loans of up to $100,000. Lendistry typically focuses its lending on urban and rural small businesses in socially and economically distressed communities, with most of the money given to those with low to moderate income, including African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos. As part of Amazon Community Lending, Lendistry will offer term loans from $10,000 to $100,000 for up to two years with annual percentage rates between 8% and 9.9%. Amazon sellers can use the money to grow their businesses and pay for staffing and operations costs, product development and manufacturing and marketing.