Twitter, eBay, Apple and mobile payments

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  • September 10, 2014

It’s been a big two days in the retail payments world, with announcements from Twitter, eBay Australia, and Apple.

Purchase on Twitter

After months of reports and rumours, Twitter began its push into e-commerce with the launch of a ‘buy’ button on Tuesday.

Rumours started after the company hired former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard a year ago to lead its commerce team, then started recruiting other commerce specialists.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has attempted a commerce solution – it has partnered with Starbucks and American Express on campaigns, and earlier this year it teamed up with mega retailer Amazon allowing users can add Amazon products to their shopping cart via Twitter by responding to the product tweet with a hashtag – however this is the first announcement of a commerce solution that will be open to all businesses.

Twitter officially announced the feature in a blog post where it states the feature has been introduced to a small percentage of users in the US. These users are now able to buy product from a test group of partners including Fancy, Gumroad, Musictoday, (RED), and GLAAD.

Gumroad founder and CEO Sahil Lavingia said his team has been talking to Twitter about possible commerce features for more than a year, “It was more like a when, not if, question for them.”

Users can purchase products by selecting a ‘buy’ button attached to posts in their Twitter feed.


“This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun,” Tarun Jain, group product manager, Twitter, said.

“Users will get access to offers and merchandise they can’t get anywhere else and can act on them right in the Twitter apps for Android and iOS; sellers will gain a new way to turn the direct relationship they build with their followers into sales.”

Advertisers will be able to pay to promote Twitter messages featuring buy buttons the same way other marketing tweets can be more prominently displayed.


eBay Australia turns 15

Also on Tuesday, eBay Australia celebrated it’s 15th birthday, revealing some interesting statistics about Australian shopping habits.

Starting out as a site where mostly individuals sold collectables and 2nd hand items at auction, today 85 per cent of products on eBay are new and sold at “Buy It Now” prices.


“We are so proud of how far eBay has come in the past 15 years and the impact it has made on Australians’ everyday lives. It’s been a consumer-led evolution and we’ve innovated around their needs on behalf of our retail partners,” Jooman Park, MD of eBay Australia, said.

“It’s incredible to think that over eight million Australians are interacting with eBay every single month. Australians have embraced eBay. Over the past 15 years we have facilitated more than 681 million transactions and almost 60 per cent of all online shoppers in Australia bought something on eBay last year,” Park said.

According to a survey conducted by the e-tailer earlier this year, buyers in NSW spend the most money while using mobile devices in total, but Victorian buyers spend the greatest percentage of their money using mobile.

Northern Territory eBay users are the biggest spenders, while Queensland’s regional city, Toowoomba, is the country’s most active town, buying more items than anyone else in the whole of Australia.

Apple does NFC

This morning Apple announced that they are finally embracing near field communication (NFC) technology with the launch of “Apple Pay“.

Most commonly known as “Tap and Go” or “PayWave” in Australia, NFC technology has been embraced since it’s introduction by Visa and MasterCard in 2009. Last year Coles stated over half it’s card transactions were completed using NFC.

In the USA the acceptance of the technology has been much slower, with most card transactions still using magnetic stripe and signature, rather than NFC or chip and PIN or chip and sign. All that is set to change with Apple’s announcement.


Partnering with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, the new Apple Pay service will only work on the just announced iPhone 6, iPhone 6 plus, and Apple Watch as NFC requires a chip to be included in the hardware.

Apple Pay integrates directly with Apple’s Passbook app, first launched last year with iOS 7.

Here’s how Apple explain the security involved with Apple Pay:

When you add a credit or debit card with Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device nor on Apple servers. Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on your iPhone or Apple Watch. Each transaction is authorised with a one-time unique number using your Device Account Number and instead of using the security code from the back of your card, Apple Pay creates a dynamic security code to securely validate each transaction.

The benefit implicit in Apple Pay is the TouchID system – providing added security. Essentially, once you have loaded your credit card into Apple’s iTunes (which 500 million people have already done), you’re also adding fingerprint security to using your credit card.

As of today, the service will also only be available in the USA, with no Australian financial institutions yet to announce a commitment to the platform.

Unlike NFC on Android devices, Apple’s integration is limited to the APple Pay ecosystem with no support for third-party applications at this stage.

Cuscal, who provide solutions to more than 150 Australian financial services institutions, told a representative from Arty Labs, “Our work to date in this area ensures that Cuscal is in a key industry position for an early adoption of the Apple Pay Solution”. Cuscal was the first to market in the Asia Pacific region with its mobile payments app redi2PAY for Android. It uses Host Card Emulation (HCE) to turn a smart phone into a ‘tap and pay’ payment device using NFC.

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