Tag Archives: Business

Square’s customizable debit cards are inspiring some slick art


When Square first unveiled its cash card earlier this year, the move had many people scratching their heads. What could a forward-thinking mobile payments app possibly want with an old-school plastic debit card?

Well, if nothing else, the cards are giving the San Francisco company some free social media advertising.

Their sleek, minimalist design and customizable face seem to have sparked something of an artistic trend on social media.

In designing the plastic rectangles, Square forwent all the usual identifying markers of a credit card card number, expiration date, printed name for stark black coloring interrupted only by a Visa logo, an RDIF chip, and a laser printed signature in the corner.

But, as Square’s more creatively inclined users are demonstrating, that space doesn’t necessarily have to contain a signature the company will print pretty much any drawing you submit within the bounds of decency.

Cardholders are posting custom designs adorned with everything from cartoon cats to shruggies to outdoor scenes. In fact, the corner canvas has become one of the biggest draws of the cards.

“The option to put my own custom drawing [or] signature was a huge selling point,” Kelly Robotoson, a freelance artist in Seattle, said in a Twitter direct message. He decided to tag his card with an anthropomorphic mountain.

To be clear, Square’s offering isn’t actually a debit card in a traditional sense. The cards don’t connect to a bank account but rather allow their holders to unload any balance accrued within the Square’s money-transfer app.

They seem to have inspired some of Square’s competitors. In the weeks since the card officially launched, Apple and Venmo have each announced their own plastic cards as accessories to their transfer payment services.

Check out some of the most original wallet-borne art pieces below:


Got the cool new #cashcard by @square

A post shared by Bradley Hurley (@bmarriner) on


LOL, got my #cashcard

A post shared by Victoria Pater (@victoriap8er) on

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/28/square-debit-card-art-round-up/

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US unveils new airline security measures to avoid laptop ban

Homeland security proposes enhanced screening of personal devices on foreign flights arriving in the US

US Homeland Security secretary John Kelly on Wednesday unveiled enhanced security measures for foreign flights arriving in the United States in what officials said was a move to prevent an expansion of an in-cabin ban on laptops and other large electronic devices.

Inaction is not an option, Kelly said, saying he believed airlines will comply with the new screening. But he said the measures were not the last step to tighten security.

US officials are requiring enhanced screening of personal electronic devices, passengers and explosive detection for the roughly 2,000 commercial flights arriving daily in the United States from 280 airports in 105 countries.

The decision not to impose new restrictions on laptops is a boost to airlines, which have worried that an expansion of the ban to Europe or other locations could cause significant logistical problems and deter some travel. Airlines that failed to satisfy new security requirements could still face future in-cabin electronics restrictions, the sources said.

European and US officials told Reuters that airlines have 21 days to put in place increased explosive screening and have 120 days to comply with other security measures, including enhanced screening of airline passengers.

Reuters reported this month that the United States had suggested enhancements, including explosive trace detection screening, increased vetting of airports staff and additional detection dogs.

Since laptops are widely used in flight by business-class passengers who pay double or more than the average ticket price the airline industry had feared expanding the ban could cut into revenue.

Airlines said they would have to bear the brunt of expanded screening costs. Officials told Reuters they were concerned about adding new enhanced security measures to all of the roughly 280 airports that have direct flights to the United States rather than focus them on airports where threats are highest.

European airline groups said in a document reviewed by Reuters that if the threats were confirmed, the restrictions should be deployed to cover all EU departing flights, not just US-bound flights.

The US imposed restrictions on laptops in March on flights originating at 10 airports in eight countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey. They came amid fears that a concealed bomb could be installed in electronic devices taken aboard aircraft. Britain quickly followed suit with a similar set of restrictions.

None of the airlines immediately commented.

Kelly said last week that US authorities wanted to take the 10 airports off the restrictions list by simply doing the kind of things that were talking about here in terms of raising aviation security. He said the United States would boost security to a much higher level.

Homeland security officials plan to announce that those airports can get off the list if they meet the new security requirements.

Starting in April, Kelly repeatedly said it was likely the laptop ban would expand to other airports and even said in May the government could potentially expand the ban worldwide.

One big issue facing policymakers was the potential safety implications related to past problems with laptop batteries and storing large numbers of laptops in the cargo hold.

US transportation secretary Elaine Chao said at a June Senate hearing that lithium ion batteries on airplanes can be a problem and pose a fire risk.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/28/new-us-airline-security-measures-no-laptop-ban

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Forget Alexa, Amazon’s next big product is … wine

Worlds largest retailer moves from tech products to its own wine, to revive the direct connection between wine-maker and customer

Amazons continuing quest to make and sell everything in the world has led to it branching out into a new area: overseeing the production of a new range of wines.

Yes, you can now get drunk in a Jeff Bezos-approved way. Pop the corks at once.

The company has worked with the King Estate Winery, located just outside Eugene, Oregon, to develop a line of three wines under their new brand, Next: a pinot gris, a red blend, and a pinot noir. Its calling it the first wine ever developed from conception to release with Amazon Wine, the companys booze brand launched in November 2012.

Unusually for Amazon, this new brand isnt aimed at undercutting the competition with bargain-basement prices, as with its Amazon Basics line. Instead, the wines are priced firmly into the mid-to-high-end market, at $20 (15.44), $30 and $40 for the white, red blend, and red respectively.

For the winery, its trying to claim the new deal is a return to an earlier time when the connection between wine-maker and customer was direct. Ed King III, who founded the vineyard with his father in 1991, said: When people lived in the same village, the wines and cuisine developed together. Today that direct link is at risk of being lost.

Were launching Next on Amazon to re-establish the connection between winemaker and wine lover in todays digital village.

Amazon Wines Nick Loeffler added: Were thrilled to connect wineries, like King Estate, with millions of customers and give them an innovative format to launch new brands.

Calling the largest e-commerce site in the world a village, digital or not, might stretch the imagination, but the wines will also be available for sale on the Kings own website though the vineyard isnt matching Amazons offer of 1 shipping for customers who buy three or more bottles.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/06/amazon-next-big-product-wine

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Spotify is hosting a six-city hip-hop tour starting with Gucci Mane

Spotify may be bleeding money as it tries to win back the love and respect of artists, but thats not stopping the music-streaming service from partying.

Starting this summer, Spotify is hosting a six-city tour in partnership with Live Nation, the company announced Tuesday. The series is called RapCaviar Live, which is named after one of the most popular playlists curated by Spotify. The playlist has more than 7 million followers.

This is the first time Spotify has ever thrown a concert tour. The service is famous for hosting intimate concerts with top artists at its office in New York City, along with sponsoring shows at tech conferences like CES, SXSW, and Cannes.

But this affair brings Spotifys name as a concert promoter to the mainstream. The service is facing stiff competition from Apple Music, along with other competitors like Amazon Music Unlimited, Google Play, Tidal, and SoundCloud.

It’s also under pressure to improve its finances and enter the public markets, moves that will be much easier if Spotify can find additional revenue streams such as live events.

Taylor Swift, who famously pulled her music from Spotify and then partnered with Apple, put her music back on the service earlier this month, signaling a new acceptance from artists.

Spotifys tour begins in Atlanta with Gucci Mane at The Tabernacle on August 12. Hell be joined by Mike WiLL Make it, along with other special guests, according to Spotify.

The tour will also stop in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto. More dates, venues, and artists will be announced soon.

The first tickets go on sale on June 30 at 10 a.m. ET and are available through Ticketmaster.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/27/spotify-rap-caviar-live-tour-gucci-mane/

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5 tips on how to overcome the entrepreneurial dilemma

Randi Zuckerberg is a businesswoman who marches to the beat of her own drum.

As a serial entrepreneur, NYTimes best selling author of Dot Complicated, speaker, television host and producer, and founder & CEO of Zuckerberg Media, one skill-set Randi had to learn was time management.

Below, Zuckerberg outlines five tips professionals should follow to overcome the entrepreneurial dilemma of work-life balance.

For the full interview and more discussion, check out the above episode of #BizChats.

1. Chooseyour three major focuses of the day: work, family, friends, fitness, sleep, etc.

“You get three of those, you can pick a different three tomorrow. The goal is for it to balance out over the long run, not to try to do all those five things everyday.”

2. Stave off the urge to do tasks outside of those three choices (save it for another day when you can enjoy it)

“Once you pick your three, stick with it. Don’t say, ‘alright I’m going to try and sneak in in this fourth or fifth [activity].’ Do those three things really, really well. If you didn’t choose fitness that day, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t try to squeeze in a 5-mile run. Save it for another day when you can enjoy it and you can do a great job.”

3. Hold yourself accountable by tweeting your choices or sharing them to friends

“If you don’t think you’re the kind of person that can hold yourself accountable to picking three things and sticking with it, bring other people in on the action. Get social! You can text your friends and share with them your three things you picked that day. You can tweet it, you can post it on Facebook, have other people help you be accountable for picking three.

“I also like to say, instead of creating a really daunting ‘to-do’ list of things that you have to do that day that are weighing over your head, make a ‘ta-da list’ of the things you accomplished that day that you can feel proud of at the end of the day.”

4. Keep a journal or calendar of your choices so you can see how your month balanced out

“Just like if you’re trying to watch your nutrition, the biggest advice is to keep a journal of what you’re eating so you can see what you chose. Keep a journal of which three [activities] you picked. Again, work, sleep, family, friends, fitness, you get to pick three. You want to make sure you’re balancing out over the long run, but it’s okay if you pick the same three over and over again for a short time. We’re entrepreneurs, we’re busy, sometimes you’ve got to focus and drill down, but write it down to make sure you’re not letting anything in your life go by the wayside.”

5. Profit financially, physically and emotionally

“If you give yourself that permission to really focus, first of all, what you’re going to find is that you’re going to be so much more productive, you’re going to be happier, and I know in my own personal life and my professional life, I don’t think I’ve ever accomplished anything I was truly proud of when I felt like I was just balancing everything really well. It was when I really deep dove into one area and was really focused and I felt like I accomplished anything I was really proud of. So that’s why I think the new reality of being an entrepreneur (especially for those of us who are parents too) is that you have to maybe be a little more lopsided instead of balanced and it’s okay as long as it shifts back and fourth.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/23/randi-zuckerberg-bizchats/

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Ethereum flash crash shows how risky new cryptocurrency markets are

Ethereum is rebounding, but not after a dramatic crash.

Image: Shutterstock / Wit Olszewski

The cryptocurrency market for Ethereum plummeted late Wednesday. This wasn’t a quick dip, but a flash crash that sent the price from $317 to a low of $0.10 in a matter of seconds.

Some people saw thousands of dollars in value disappear.

Image: Twitter

Things are back to normal, sort of. The price of ether, the cryptocurrency of the suddenly hot Ethereum platform, has since rebounded and is trading back at about $318.

The crash, however, remains as a big reminder that this is a volatile, new market. Plenty of people have made small fortunes investing in these markets, but the get-rich-quick stories belie the risks that the average person faces if they want to get in on these new digital currencies.

The vice president of GDAX, the Ethereum exchange which experienced the crash, blogged about the event, explaining that a “multimillion dollar market sell” was placed midday Wednesday. This triggered prices to fall from about $317 to $224 and 800 automatic stop loss orders to go throughthose are automatic sells set for when prices hit a certain amount.

Hence some people who didn’t even mean to sell ended up dumping their ether for a small percentage of what it had just been worth.

“We understand this event can be frustrating for our customers,” VP Adam White wrote.

Things went down fast. The trading price of ether dropped 99 percent in a second, but then rose back up, with traders who held onto their holdings coming out just fine.

Others were not so lucky.

If you’re interested in this market, use this as a learning experience. This is the wild west of investing. Exchanges like these are not mature. They’re still very new and much smaller than established stock markets. These exchanges are susceptible to huge swings like Wednesday’s flash crash. In a normal stock exchange, a multimillion sell wouldn’t throw everything off.

As Omega One, a crypto currency trading platform, noted, the crash shows the problems with these exchanges.

“The millions of dollars that investors lost due to forced selling of their positions will not be recovered. This incident highlights the relative immaturity of the cryptocurrency trading ecosystem,” the company wrote.

While casual investors are jumping onto the Ethereum and Bitcoin markets, it’s a risky place. You can bet on that.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/22/ethereum-flash-crash-cryptocurrency/

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