Category Archives: Personal

MCX Highlights Merchant Ignorance

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and certainly read quite a few pieces as well. Nothing I’ve read about MCX seems like a positive improvement for the consumer shopping experience.

MCX is the Merchant Customer Exchange and it’s a consortium of some of the largest merchants like Sears, Walmart, Target, CVS and Old Navy to name a few.  That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but their intention is to control the method of payment in the store with a new mobile payment system (and likely card) that links up through ACH (your checking account and debit card) to bring on a lower fee structure after paying the vig to Visa and MasterCard for so many years. I get that they want to pay less and earn more. That’s basic business … But the process by which we’ve paid for things has been in place long enough that it’s the standard. When there’s an opportunity for progress and improvement we should try to disrupt and evolve standards, but this change is actually a step backwards. MCX is forcing consumers to pay in a particular way with merchants with whom we as consumers have maintained particular financial relationships over the years. By removing credit and forcing debit and direct withdrawals we lose a pretty massive method for purchase. Not that we aren’t generally irresponsible – carrying far too many cards and open lines of credit – but these merchants aren’t trying to develop a corrective or instructional behavior. They simply no longer want to pay the swipe tax associated with accepting credit.

Beyond the base fee issue is another related to data and who gets access and potential control of the customer relationship.  Typically in a transaction, the full detail view is only accessible by the merchant and the customer and MCX wants to dive more deeply into identifying us through very personal information like your social security and drivers license number. Given the continuous stream of merchants with data breaches, this is more than a bit unsettling. While it’s not even available to use yet MCX has already had data stolen from their web site … A pretty stellar start. While merchants and banks have had breaches, the payment networks have not (yet) though their view of us as individuals is more limited since they are “simply” the network in which the data travels with some added logic to combat fraud.

MCX has demanded that all members use their system and only their system to force the standard across the group. This means that initially you will have the pleasure of scanning QR codes, after first unlocking your phone, finding and opening the app and ensuring the funding mechanism in place is what you want. Sounds really fluid and frictionless doesn’t it? Compared to Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Square, we are looking at a considerably less elegant more closed system. It’s also the first payment system that actually removes existing options

Given the lack of options and the considerably the deeper personal data demand we might as well start going back to carrying cash … last I checked it works everywhere – unlike MCX which might as well be a new form of currency no one wants. There’s always Amazon …

How to improve Google+

Google+

While I found The Verge’s post interesting and agree with their suggestions the one thing I find missing most of all is sharing INTO G+.

Right now it’s impossible essentially from any 3rd party experience. It’s 100% absent on iOS and possible only from the system share intent on Android which is great, but there’s much more … content we consume all around the web can’t easily find it’s way onto G+ from apps and extensions in the same fluid manner as, well every other social property.

More here – How to improve Google+ immediately | The Verge.

Defending Liberal Arts

Campus (aerial view), Hamilton College

Andrew Bennett, the CEO of Havas has a great piece in Fast Company that I fully agree with based on my own direct experiences. His thesis is essentially that while we place such enormous attention on STEM education we might be losing sight of the value in a proper liberal arts degree.

At my college there was just a single degree to earn, a Bachelor of Arts. I could have chosen to major in Chemistry, Physics or Computer Science and still left with a BA. Instead I chose Comparative Literature and while that might seem limiting if you can only draw linear conclusions, the foundation my education provided is something I use all day, every day. My job involves continuous critical thinking, synthesis and analysis and clear communication whether written or through public speaking. It’s hard to say whether I would have had a similar exposure or rigueur had I focused on business or marketing or even engineering (at a different school) but I believe and would advise my kids to think broadly to ensure they are comfortable with the pretty steady change that life offers.

There’s always time to specialize and go deep in a particular area. I still feel like I’ve managed to be a bit of a generalist and consume an intense information diet to ensure my continued relevance and importantly interest in learning so I can continue to grow.

Hangouts’ Missed Opportunity

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Generally speaking I really like the Google Hangouts application. It’s a great way to chat and even make calls between parties. The update for Kit Kat is even stronger with SMS integration making it a universal messaging app. One app to rule them all!

The one thing I was really hoping would arrive along with the update was a universal conduit for multiple SMS addresses. Running hangouts across devices works great and my perhaps optimistic hope was that SMS would also be relayed. Today I tested things using the leaked version of Hangouts and whole things might be slightly different with an updated OS I didn’t see any SMS connectivity across phones. I realize I’m an edge case here but having one base for messages across multiple phones would be a huge win. Apparently just not now.

sharing links

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so a week in and I’ve shared a pretty large number of links as daily reads.  It’s not everything I’m reading daily, but the shares I’d typically just blast out via social.  I’ve got a pretty solid system courtesy of Pocket and a WordPress plugin called WP Stacker.  While I haven’t seen any comments or direct responses per se, I do see some traffic coming in to check out what I’m sharing … plenty more coming.