With all the marketing options out there, it can be difficult for small businesses to know what to do.
PayPal shuts down TIO's system.
PayPal said it had shut down TIO’s system after the discovery of a security issue. Neither PayPal nor TIO released details about the issue. In a statement, PayPal said it involves “security vulnerabilities on the TIO platform and issues with TIO’s data-security program that do not adhere to PayPal’s information-security standards.” On its home page, TIO released a statement on the matter, as well, with nearly identical language. A PayPal spokesperson on Monday told Digital Transactions News no further information, including any indication of when the suspension might be lifted, is available.The PayPal statement also hints that the payments company may now re-examine the deal under which it acquired TIO. PayPal paid $233 million for the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company in an agreement announced in February. The deal closed in July. PayPal said it has begun in internal investigation of the security issue and has also brought in outside cybersecurity experts to inspect TIO’s platform.
Mastercard Inc. will no longer require signatures on transactions.
ETA member Mastercard Inc. will drop its rule requiring merchants to get signatures for transactions made with its credit and debit cards in North America. The change will go into effect April 13, 2018, Mastercard Executive Vice President of U.S. Development Linda Kirkpatrick announced in a blog post, citing state-of-the-art security systems like tokenization and new biometric authentication capabilities as reasons for the signature’s growing obsolescence.
“While security remains paramount, we know that convenience is also a large part of what consumers want when they are shopping and paying,” Kirkpatrick said in the post, “The move will help merchants speed customers through checkout, provide more consistent experiences for every customer with every purchase and should decrease costs associated with safely storing signatures. ”
The move away from the original payment card authentication tool is an indication of overall market trends as ultra-secure yet frictionless payment experiences continue to be in high-demand from merchants and consumers alike.
holiday shopping season
With Small Business Saturday just around the corner, a new poll, Manta, found that 52 percent of business owners are expecting an increase in sales this year. Here are five ways that owners can prepare for Small Business Saturday and market their businesses on a budget.
1. Join forces with other local shops.
Every business in your community depends on the support of local customers. Work with your chamber of commerce, local trade group or neighborhood business association to co-promote events, collaborate on marketing efforts, and make Small Business Saturday a success for everyone. Increased awareness and foot traffic will benefit the entire community.
2. Celebrate with special seasonal events.
Too many business owners fall into the trap of deep discounts and holiday sales--attracting lots of one-time bargain hunters at the expense of long-term profitability. Instead, give your loyal customers an incentive to visit by making your store a holiday destination without slashing prices. Schedule a special open house, invite carolers or entertainers from a local school, and serve complimentary hot chocolate and cookies.
3. Pay it forward with your favorite charity.
You can celebrate the spirit of the season and make a difference in your community by teaming up with a local charity to encourage holiday giving. For example, you could accept donations at your shop for a winter coat drive or food pantry collection. You can use your marketing channels to request contributions from your customers, and ask your charitable partner to let its social followers and newsletter subscribers know they can make donations at your business.
4. Spread the word on social media platforms.
Social media marketing can be an effective and affordable way to let your followers know about holiday events, holiday hours, and any special merchandise you're stocking for the season. You can get extra mileage out of your posts by using the official hashtag #ShopSmall to join the conversation with other local stores and customers who are participating in Small Business Saturday.
5. Encourage return visits in the New Year.
After all of the excitement of the holidays, January can be a lonely month for small business owners. You can encourage your customers to return in the New Year with a special bounce-back reward. For example, if they spend $200 in November or December, they receive a $25 gift card to redeem in January. It's a good reward for your best customers and a reminder that you appreciate their support all year round.
Using voice-activated payments for transfers, paying bills and more
The State of Voice Pay
We've all experienced the frustration of epic fails with voice assistants, often leading to garbled words, misfires and misinterpretations of your original intent.
Amazon Alexa now allows customers to make re-ordering simple via voice commands. Apple has enabled Siri to support a vocabulary for starting person-to-person (P2P) payments by using voice functionality, now used by apps such as Square Cash and Venmo.
Large banks are taking small steps, adding voice capabilities here and there. Capital One Financial in March added voice-powered commands for Alexa users for checking balances and making credit card payments. RBC in Canada added Siri capability in early August for bill pay and P2P. And Barclays in the United Kingdom added the capability for customers in late August.
For RBC, Siri made sense as an initial platform: about half of its users have iPhones.
"There is a good, strong band of loyal Siri users within the Apple community," says Peter Tilton, senior vice president, digital at RBC. "So it was a logical thing for us to extend this capability to that group."
Advancements Change the Tenor
The nascent stage of voice payments comes after some big advancements in speech recognition technology. During the last five years, cloud computing has offered the processing power needed for reading the complexity of speech and voice. Software has become much better at understanding voice commands and converting them to more conversational-sounding speech.
Meanwhile, the shift toward smaller computing devices over the years has actually made it harder to click and tap while on the go. From desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablets, our devices are becoming smaller and less convenient for typing. While consumers might not make a payment via a touchscreen on an Apple Watch, they sure might want to use Siri to do it.
Data security should be one of your business's priorities.
The Equifax breach is reminding small business owners that they may be vulnerable to cybercriminals
Small businesses often lag behind big companies in data security, not believing they might be targets. But 61 percent of the victims of breaches in 2016 were businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees, according to a Verizon survey. And experts say small companies are being targeted more because they don't have the sophisticated defenses that big corporations do.
Still, Equifax says its systems were breached after it failed to correctly install a software patch designed to eliminate a vulnerability. Applying patches as soon as they're available and watching for new ones are critical for a company to protect itself, experts say.
But many small business owners, sidetracked by other issues, don't pay enough attention, says Diana Burley, a George Washington University professor whose expertise is internet security. Many don't have staffers or vendors to monitor technology, and no plan to improve their security. Small businesses should not forget they can be harmed by cybercriminals in a variety of ways.
Using a business credit card to manage daily expenses can be a great but it can become a liability for your business.
1. Choosing the Wrong Type of Credit Card
It's important to note that not all credit cards are created equal. Business credit cards and personal credit cards are different products that carry different legal protections and have a different impact on your credit score.
2. Mixing Business and Personal Expenses
You have to keep your business and personal spending separate. Failing to do so is a recipe for a headache come tax time, not to mention the potential for increased scrutiny from the IRS. One or two mix-ups turns into 10, and next thing you know--you're on a three-hour call with your bookkeeper, going line by line through every credit card statement. You definitely don't want to go there.
3. Spending Without a Plan
When you're first getting started with a small business--particularly with a shiny new high limit business credit card in hand--it's easy for every potential expense to feel like an absolute need.
There's nothing wrong with investing in your business in a smart, systematic way. But if you're busting out that business credit card day after day without a budget, a repayment plan, or any forethought about the return on your investment, you're setting yourself up for trouble ahead.
Even if you've found an introductory business credit card offer that gives you 0% APR, make sure you're paying attention to when that interest will kick in so that you can plan for full repayment before it starts catching up with you.
4. Ignoring Interest Rate Changes
When the introductory period ends, your interest rate will typically skyrocket up to at least 18 to 20 percent (and very often higher). When that happens, if you're sitting on a massive credit card balance, you'll be looking at a mountain of interest expenses.
And don't think you can just game the system, either. These introductory offers almost never apply to balance transfers from one card to another--so hopping from card to card keep your rates low isn't an option.
5. Getting Behind on Payments
It's a mistake that sounds so obvious in the abstract, but when you get down to the day to day of running your business, it happens way too easily.
You missed the email saying that your payment is due, or have an unexpected expense that takes priority. But even one late payment on your business credit card can have a devastating impact on your business and personal credit scores--and ultimately your long-term financing options.
Take the time to create a budget and a cash flow forecast, add payment reminders to your calendar, and if you're working with a team, make it clear who is responsible for making payments on time, every time.
6. Taking the Wrong Approach to Business Credit Card Rewards
Different business credit cards offer a wide array of awards opportunities for their customers that can save you money, make that entrepreneurial lifestyle a little more enjoyable, or both. But if you're not using them correctly, business credit card rewards can hurt you a lot more than they help.
To get the most mileage--literally or figuratively--out of your business credit card, approach rewards the same way you would any business transaction. Run the numbers, measure the returns, and look for the business credit card with the best combination of favorable interest rates, terms, and rewards that actually make sense for your business.