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Selling products online can be a lucrative business, but it's typically not an easy one, particularly for small merchants. While the internet helps address some challenges, like finding customers, margins can be tight and merchants often struggle with cash flow.
Enter Amazon, the 800-pound gorilla of ecommerce. Already a significant source of sales for some merchants through its Amazon Marketplace, the Seattle-based company is now positioning itself to be an even larger fixture in the lives of many businesses with the launch of a service called Amazon Lending.
Thanks to supportive venture capitalists with deep pockets, some of the most prominent startups in recent years have been able to put off the 'making money' part of creating a new business.
But no business can survive forever without a revenue model, and for Foursquare, it looks like it's time to make money.
Square, the mobile payment upstart that's combined a credit card-reading dongle with the iPhone and iPad to take on established point-of-sale (POS) payment solutions providers, has been making frequent appearances in the news of late.
From attracting users like the Obama campaign and taxi drivers in New York City to overhauling its mobile app in an effort to drive consumers to local businesses, it appears that Square's $4bn-plus in annual payments processed could be just the tip of the iceberg.
If payment upstart Square has its way, payment-taking iPads will be in far more than just taxis.
In its quest to become a payments powerhouse, the company has a much larger target: those ubiquitous POS systems used by millions and millions of businesses large and small in the United States.
eBay's CEO, John Donahoe, believes that digital payments should account for a lot more of the global payments market than they currently do.
One of the big ways he's trying to make that happen is by ensuring his PayPal subsidiary grows its volume in the most promising digital payments space -- mobile. On that front, it appears he's making good progress as quietly, mobile payments have become a multi-billion dollar business for PayPal.
That, for obvious reasons, is probably not what bank executives want to hear. So it's no surprise that banks and other traditional players in the finance and payments markets are getting involved in the most promising digital payments space.
Everyone loves a deal, and group buying companies like Groupon have cashed in on that in a big way.
But as a publicly traded company, keeping the momentum going is a must for Groupon, which is not only facing competition from other group buying services like Living Social, but which is also trying to keep consumers and merchants happy as daily deal fatigue sets in.
There are a lot of skeptics when it comes to whether merchants should use group buying sites like Groupon.
For good reason too: there are enough horror stories to demonstrate that heavy discounting and lots of customers can be a really, really bad combination.
But the viability of group buying sites themselves is increasingly called into question. Groupon, the 800 pound gorilla of the space, went public last year, giving everyone a glimpse into is finances. Finances which showed lots of revenue but heavy losses.
Will the future of payments belong to upstart innovators like Square? As mobile payments become a larger and larger part of the global payments industry, they just might.
But payment giants like VeriFone aren't sitting idly by either. At this week's National Retail Federation’s Convention and Expo in New York, the company, whose point-of-sale systems are used by countless businesses, will be demonstrating how it plans to keep up with rapidly evolving payment technologies.
The PayPal brand has become synonymous with 'online payments', and despite the fact that the company isn't the newest kid on the block, it's no surprise that it keeps growing like a weed as commerce continues to move online.
John Donahoe, the CEO of PayPal parent eBay, however, thinks that online payments should make up a much greater percentage of global payments than they currently do and as a result, PayPal is aggressively working to expand its footprint. One of the newest ways PayPal appears to be doing that is through a new offering called Access, which is reportedly set to be announced today at its X.commerce conference.
Note to unscrupulous merchants: all of that negative online buzz you've been creating to boost your sites ranking on Google won't do you much good anymore.
At least that's what Google is saying following the New York Times' high-profile story about Mr. B, who just might be the web's most unscrupulous merchant. His strategy: treat customers like crap, encourage them to complain about him online and watch his site's presence in the SERPs improve with every complaint.
Last Friday, the New York Times detailed the antics of a gentleman who may be a contender for the web's most unscrupulous merchant. Unlike other unscrupulous merchants, including the lazy, the flaky and the scammy, "Mr. B" has taken great pride in his unsavory -- and potentially criminal -- treatment of customers.
Many of the responses to the New York Times piece have centered on Google's role in Mr. B's online business, which sells eyewear online. That's because Mr. B worked his site up the rankings by taking advantage of the fact that many of the complaints being posted about his business online were generating valuable backlinks despite the fact that these backlinks, of course, were not really positive signals.
Last week, Blippy, a Twitter for purchases, created quite a stir when
it was revealed that the company had exposed the credit card numbers of
The company's co-founder, Philip Kaplan, sought to downplay the severity of the mistake but as more and more individuals cozy up to the growing number of services that encourage 'oversharing' of financial-related information online, a number of parties involved with commerce will be affected.