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February 01 2014

Syrian Electronic Army: We Hacked eBay and PayPal

The Syrian Electronic Army, a notorious hacking group, says it claimed two big-name victims Saturday: eBay and PayPal.

While a hack on PayPal could put millions of peoples' bank information at risk, the hackers said this attack was a "hacktivist operation," and that they did not target account information. Instead, the SEA claimed it was able to replace the homepages of eBay and PayPal in France, Israel and the UK with its own logo

"We didn't do it to hack people accounts," SEA member Th3 Pr0 told Mashable. Th3 Pr0 said the SEA compromised eBay's domains manager, which allowed the hackers to shut down the website or redirect it another server. Th3 Pr0 added that the SEA was able to display its logo on various eBay and PayPal homepages for about 30 minutes. Read more...

More about Ebay, Hacking, Paypal, Ecommerce, and Syria

January 29 2014

Victim of Epic Hack Points Finger at GoDaddy and PayPal

Passwords, even strong ones, aren't enough to protect you. Your online accounts are only as safe as the security policies of the companies that hold them.

At least that's the apparent lesson to be learned from Naoki Hiroshima's epic account of how one hacker used a series of simple social-engineering tactics to gain control of his online accounts without using a single password.

Naoki Hiroshima claims to have tweeted using the @n handle since signing up for Twitter in 2007. In that time, he said, he has fended off multiple attempts by attackers to take control of the coveted one-character account. He claims he was once even offered $50,000 in exchange for the handle. Read more...

More about Twitter, Security, Paypal, Godaddy, and Passwords

January 02 2014

Is eBay Planning to Launch Its Own Virtual Currency?

eBay's PayPal unit has filed a patent application proposing secure tokens that could potentially be used as a virtual currency.

The application, filed in June 2012 and published on Dec. 19, 2013, would let people buy products without creating a payment provider account

"The recipient can use the token to purchase a product using a checkout though the payment provider," the filing reads. "The purchase can be made without requiring the user to create the user's own payment provider account." The filing states that these tokens would be for giving gifts, but in theory, the tokens could serve as a currency that can be used for purchases outside of eBay and PayPal and would be a competitor to Bitcoin, dogecoin and litecoin, among others. Read more...

More about Ebay, Paypal, Business, Us, and World

December 24 2013

U.S. Mobile Shopping Offsets Drop in Last-Minute Mall Traffic

Need to go to the mall? Baby, it's cold outside

Shoppers unwilling to brave the elements for a final weekend of holiday shopping (although the East Coast didn't exactly have a frigid weekend) took to their phones and tablets to order last-minute knickknacks

PayPal logged a 96% increase in the number of customers shopping on mobile devices from Dec. 21 to 22 compared to the last weekend before Christmas in 2012, according to data from the online payment company. The growth falls in line with the holiday trend of embracing mobile shopping, including a third straight year in which Black Friday weekend mobile shopping has more than doubled from the previous year. Read more...

More about Online Shopping, Paypal, Mobile Shopping, Business, and Mobile

November 19 2013

You Can Pay for Your Next Uber Ride With PayPal

Uber now gives customers the option to pay for their rides using PayPal, the two companies announced late Monday.

Uber is the first company to integrate PayPal's mobile SDK into its app, which lets users pay for rides via PayPal without having to log in to their PayPal account repeatedly. This partnership is intended to help Uber scale by streamlining the process of accepting payments in new cities and countries

"We need a partner who has a platform to handle payments in all the places that we go," Travis Kalanick, founder and CEO of Uber, told Mashable As an example, he notes that customers in Germany prefer paying through their bank accounts rather than with credit cards. "Are we then going to get intimately familiar with how banks work in Germany and how to interface with them?... We have to go mass market and we need a payments partner that can do that with us." Read more...

More about Paypal, Uber, Business, and Startups

September 26 2013

eBay Buys Braintree for $800 Million

eBay has announced an agreement to buy global payment platform Braintree for $800 million

The company will be integrated into eBay's PayPal unit

"Braintree is a perfect fit with PayPal,” said eBay President and CEO John Donahoe in a press release announcing the deal. “Bill Ready and his team add complementary talent and technology that we believe will help accelerate PayPal’s global leadership in mobile payments. Together, we expect that PayPal and Braintree also will accelerate our leadership in supporting developers who are creating innovative solutions for next generation commerce startups.” Read more...

More about Acquisition, Ebay, Paypal, Business, and Startups

September 09 2013

Now PayPal Aims To Track You In Real Life

Since David Marcus took over as CEO of PayPal last year, the payments arm of eBay Inc. has been busily pumping out new products such as its revamped mobile app.

But as he pulls out a small device, hardly bigger than a flash-memory drive, from a cloth pouch, he grins: "This is the launch I'm most excited about."

What has Marcus so stoked?

Here's PayPal Beacon, a shopper detector for stores. Here's PayPal Beacon, a shopper detector for stores.

A Shopper Detector For Stores

It's PayPal Beacon, a night-light-sized piece of hardware that aims to detect when one of PayPal's 140 million users is near a store that takes PayPal. The primary goal is to make it easier for users to pay for real-world purchases using their PayPal app, since merchants will be primed for them at the register.

It's not a new concept in the mobile-commerce world. Square, a rival payments service, has a similar feature. And Shopkick, a rewards service that offers discounts and promotions, detects when its app users walk into a store using a device that emits high-frequency audio.

But Marcus believes that PayPal's approach, which takes advantage of the newest version of Bluetooth, a short-range wireless technology, is the only one that will scale to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of locations. Which speaks to PayPal's designs on the market for real-world, in-store payments.

Existing smartphone location technologies drain users' batteries and are limited in the number of venues they can track, Marcus argues.

A Hardware Fix Waiting For Better Software?

PayPal Beacon is an elegant, even subtle piece of hardware, with a triangular shape that echoes PayPal Here, PayPal's credit-card swiper. (PayPal got lots of grief for mimicking Square's four-sided credit-card reader, minus one side, but it seems to be sticking with the visual metaphor.)

Using Bluetooth to confirm users' physical presence seems like a reasonably smart choice. The latest version of the technology is ubiquitous in new iPhones and Android models. (Users with older phones can always check in manually within PayPal's app to announce their presence.)

Whether users check in automatically or manually, their names and faces—if they've added a photo to their PayPal accounts—will show up on the merchants' point-of-sale system. PayPal has its own iPad software, and it has also integrated the feature that lets you pay by saying your name with other cash-register software.

But the cost seems like it could slow adoption of a technology that wants to be ubiquitous. PayPal has not yet announced Beacon's price; Marcus says it will be less than $100.

Apple and Google are trying hard to reduce the battery requirements of their platforms' location services. It is possible that Beacon could have a short life as users' locations becomes easier to pin down without special hardware.

Marcus argues that in dense retail locations, like malls and downtown shopping districts, standard location services won't deliver enough precision for some time.

Saving A Swipe

It seems like a lot of effort to save people a credit-card swipe or a manual check-in. Even Marcus admits: "I've never met anyone who says, 'Swiping my card is hard'."

Where things get interesting is the weaving together of location with coupons and loyalty programs. What if Beacon, for example, offered you a discount on a latte—not the first time you walked into a café, but the second time? That could solve a lot of complaints merchants have about online-to-offline marketing programs, which often drive discount-seeking newbies to a store, but do little to keep them coming back.

In going into stores with its mobile app, Beacon, and its suite of services for shopkeepers, PayPal will have to deal with lingering blowback over its original online-payments business. Customers are frustrated by occasions where they feel that PayPal hasn't done enough to investigate fraud; organizations accepting payments, particularly nontraditional ones like crowdfunding campaigns, are understandably quick to anger when PayPal freezes their account (in an effort to avert those same fraud complaints that enrage consumers).

A Beacon For PayPal's Brand?

Those incidents may be rare in PayPal's total stream of transactions, but they reverberate online. (Marcus responds to unhappy customers and critics on Twitter and even in the comments of news stories about the company, and PayPal says it has lowered the number of accounts it freezes on suspicion of fraud.) 

The best hope for PayPal is that its in-store efforts don't just help it expand its base of payments, but also rebuild its brand—standing for the ease of paying with your phone in your pocket or saving money without digging for a coupon. PayPal may not be the first to bring these innovations to market, but Marcus clearly believes it can bring them to the masses. 

Tags: PayPal

September 05 2013

How PayPal's App Update Could Reinvent The Company

What is PayPal? A new update to its mobile apps, set to be unveiled today, had me thinking about that question. If PayPal executes well on the opportunities it's exploring, it may have many millions of its users rethinking the money-moving service, too.

The brief version is that the old PayPal, born on the Web and raised on e-commerce, is making way for the new PayPal, a service that lets you pay in stores and restaurants as easily as you pay online. Actually, perhaps more easily than you do online.

A Brief History Of PayPal

I opened my PayPal account on June 25, 2000. PayPal actually stores my complete account history, and wading through it was a treasure trove of financial nostalgia.

There was a $17.50 payment to my brother, which earned us both a sign-up bonus. A transfer to my skeptical editor, who was so loathe to embrace online finance that he refused to set up an account and returned the money. Recurring monthly payments to a friend who once hosted my website—a sad reminder that he passed away years ago. eBay auctions, of course, and countless other online stores that earned my custom over the years. 

But it was all transactional, either. It seems I've never used PayPal in a physical store, a service it has offered for years. There just wasn't a reason to.

That's because PayPal solved many problems in e-commerce—chiefly, the notion of handing your credit card over to a no-name store or an individual seller. When PayPal came along, online payments were genuinely broken, because of a lack of consumer trust and the difficulty of accepting payments online. (Remember when Amazon let wary consumers phone in their credit-card number, or mail a check to establish an account balance?)

That was exciting 13 years ago, when PayPal was a startup. Now, as the most important arm of eBay, PayPal is looking for other problems to solve.

Payments Aren't Broken—So Stop Trying To Fix Them!

Those problems, it turns out, aren't payments. For years, payment startups have been telling us that our system of payments is "broken," and that they have the fix. Pay by touch! Face recognition! NFC (whatever that is)!

The truth is that payments aren't broken. Most consumers are pretty happy with cash or credit and debit cards. And merchants, though they complain about fees, don't see an alternative that saves them enough time and money. Square, often cited as a payments innovator, succeeded because it rode on top of the existing credit-card infrastructure. (It counts Visa and JP Morgan Chase as investors.)

PayPal's new mobile app lets you order ahead and pick up in a store. PayPal's new mobile app lets you order ahead and pick up in a store.

So let's set aside the notion that payments—moving money from point A to point B—are somehow a problem in need of fixing.

Paying, however, is sometimes a problem. It's awkward to hand a credit card to a taxi driver, wait for a receipt, and sign it. It's frustrating to wait in a restaurant for a waiter to pick up your bill. Coupons and loyalty cards are just annoying.

Hill Ferguson, PayPal's vice president of global product, recently gave me a tour of the new app in actual PayPal-taking locations in San Francisco. He bought me tea at T-Wea, a tea shop, and I paid him back (with PayPal). He ordered lunch for a colleague at Ironside, a San Francisco restaurant near ReadWrite headquarters, and it was ready within minutes of our arrival.

In short, PayPal's in-store future is here. And it's already working.

At Last, PayPal Has An Alibi

The first thing I noticed about PayPal's new mobile app as Ferguson demonstrated it is that it's actually decent-looking, with a clean blue-text-on-white-background look that's eerily similar to iOS 7, the forthcoming version of Apple's new operating system.

Lest you think "decent looking" is damning with faint praise, PayPal's old apps were shockingly ugly—so unbecoming that they simply lacked a valid explanation for their homeliness, save that PayPal used to be run by a guy who majored in accounting. (Ferguson's boss, PayPal CEO David Marcus, seems far more focused on PayPal's product and users.)

The new focus is on local shopping, not e-commerce. The new focus is on local shopping, not e-commerce.

The next thing you notice is that you're not confronted by a "log in or die" screen demanding your mobile PIN. Instead, PayPal shows nearby businesses that accept the payment service, based on your current location. The point of the app is no longer to complete payment for an eBay auction on the go: It's to get you to walk into a store. When you get closer to paying, that's when you log in.

Once you're in a store you can get ready to pay with a left-to-right arced swipe that's a signature gesture throughout the app. Ordering ahead for takeout or delivery, checking into a store to pay just by giving them your name and checking your bill at a restaurant all involve the same swipe. That's a thoughtful consistency missing in PayPal's earlier mobile efforts.

In every case, the payment, authorized by your touch, happens online, processed by PayPal and billed to your stored balance, bank account, or credit or debit card, depending on how you've set up your account. If there's a special offer or you have a coupon, it's taken off the total immediately.

Those are all reasons to use the app in the physical world—ones that PayPal certainly hopes are compelling. While PayPal offered some of these services before, they were buried in a "Local" tab of the app and presented confusingly. PayPal, in short, now has an alibi, an excuse, a reason for taking up valuable icon space on your smartphone's screen.

Paying The Bills

I'm excited about the potential for PayPal to replace the annoying dance with check holders and credit cards that currently takes place at the end of a restaurant meal. But PayPal's current setup for paying at restaurants isn't as elegant as other in-store payments. It relies on a kludgy partnership with NCR, which makes restaurant point-of-sale systems. And as a result, suddenly the easy app swipe no longer suffices.

Instead, paying the bill requires your server to print up a special code on the restaurant's NCR hardware and bring it to you so you can then enter it into your PayPal app. You can't just give the server your name, as you would at a store—which seems silly, considering that restaurants do this thing called taking reservations, using your name. Why not make your reservation and take care of payment details in one fell swoop? Ah, but that would involve reprogramming restaurant systems, and that's not as easy as updating an app.

Where PayPal has the most promise, though, is where it essentially works as it did on the Web—as a cloud-based service that takes care of payments behind the scenes, without requiring you to take out a credit card. Restaurant bills aside, that's the experience it's now offering. Being able to skip cash-register lines and pick up a Jamba Juice smoothie or a Caesar salad actually saves you time. And that's worth more than cash. (PayPal handles takeout orders through a partnership with Eat24, which powers a similar function in Yelp's app.)

More Mobile Frontiers

Where the new PayPal still seems weak is in the emerging world of services apps. That same skip-the-credit-card ease is being powered by other companies. Despite years of effort by PayPal, lesser-known payments companies like Braintree and Stripe seem to have a lock on the affections of app developers like Uber and Postmates. PayPal says it's improved customer service by lowering the number of accounts it freezes on suspicion of fraud, but that's only one of the complaints developers have. New, simpler ways to access PayPal as a back-end payments service are still in beta.

At the very least, by having an app that doesn't look hideous and is reasonably functional, PayPal can communicate to developers that it speaks their language and gets their concerns. PayPal has fixed its mobile app, and handed consumers a reason to give it a fresh look. Now it needs to get PayPal embedded in the rest of the mobile world.

Photos by Kim White

Tags: PayPal

August 22 2013

PayPal Testing Face-Verification System for Mobile Payments

While we're not quite scanning retinas à la Mission Impossible and Minority Report, PayPal is now testing face verification for mobile-payment transactions.

The ecommerce company's app has a tab labeled "Local," which helps users find nearby stores and restaurants that accept mobile PayPal payments. Once customers check in to a venue online, their name and photo appears on the store's PayPal app. Shoppers can then use the app to pay for items (cashiers complete the transaction by clicking on their profile pic).

"We're pleased to help local businesses of all sizes offer a new more personal experience, while never having to turn away customers who don't have enough cash on them to pay," Rob Harper, head of retail services at PayPal, said in a release. Read more...

More about Paypal, Facial Recognition, Mobile Payments, Tech, and Apps Software

June 04 2013

Twitter and Traditional Media: Rivals or Lovers?

Not long ago, the media looked at the web as if it was an awkward, unwanted stepchild. Today, the reverse is arguably true, with debate growing over whether social networks such as Twitter will overtake beacons of journalism like The New York Times.

At last month's Milken Institute Global Conference, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel said he thinks Twitter will outlast The Times. His reasoning: Its business strategy is more solid than that of the storied newspaper

The debate got journalists talking on forums such as Muck Rack, with many people disagreeing. Some said it isn't a mutually exclusive relationship, or that one's success is predicated on the other's failure. Read more...

More about Digital, Facebook, Twitter, Paypal, and Social Media

May 15 2013

PayPal to Offer Free Payment Processing for 'Qualifying' Merchants

In a bid to one-up Square, PayPal is offering free payment processing through the rest of the year for some U.S. businesses that use its PayPal Here mobile payment system.

Starting next month, PayPal will offer free credit, debit card and check processing to "qualifying" merchants. The company's announcement didn't outline how such businesses can qualify for the program. Reps from PayPal could not be reached for comment.

When PayPal Here launched in March 2012, PayPal took a 2.7% fee, though each merchant that signed up got a PayPal debit card, which earned the merchant back 1% instantly, taking the cut down to 1.7%. Square charges a 2.75% fee for every transaction, though the company also offers a program in which a participating companies can pay a $275 monthly fee in lieu of the per-transaction charges Read more...

More about Paypal, Small Business, Square, and Business

May 14 2013

Square And PayPal Push The iPad-ification Of America's Small Businesses

Square, PayPal, and Groupon all made news today with the common goal of getting small businesses to junk their cash registers for Internet-connected devices that promise to bring the simple act of settling accounts into the future.

Change With Your Coffee

I work from home, but every morning I wake up, take a shower and go straight to work from my local coffee shop. About half of those days I stop at the neighborhood ATM kiosk to grab some cash. Call it quaint, call it archaic, but my local coffee shop only takes hard currency.

The coffee shop, 1369 in Cambridge's Inman Square, is really the only reason I bother using cash at all. 1369 is a little old school, a little hipster. Cash sales were kind of its “thing.” That’s why I was surprised the other day when I ran into 1369’s owner, Josh Gerber, and he told me that the coffee shop was going digital with the Square Register.

To me, this is disruption personified. No longer are we talking about some abstract concept of how smartphones and tablets could change businesses at the local level. We are seeing it in action on a tangible scale on the street, in our neighborhoods and, yes, at our local coffee shops. 

Mobile Reshapes Main Street

Leading the charge in this changing business landscape are companies like Square, PayPal, LevelUp, Intuit, Groupon, Revel and a variety of others. The task these companies have taken on is no easy challenge – each aims to redefine the point of sale and replace one of the most common items for Main Street business: the cash register.

The chosen vehicle to replace the cash register? The iPad.

Call it the iPad-ification of the point of sale or the mobilization of American’s businesses. We are now starting to see distinct results from several years of ecosystem growth and product releases intended to change the way that basic commerce is conducted. 

Square is the leading disruptor. It was the company that made the original card-swiping device for the iPhone and, later, the iPad. With its Square Register software, it introduced one of the first connected point-of-sale solutions. Today, Square took that a step further by announcing the Square Stand, a full replacement for the cash register that holds an iPad, includes a built-in credit-card swiper and allows business to connect cash drawers and receipt printers. The Square Stand, due out in July, is available for pre-order for $299.

Not to be outdone, PayPal announced at the same time a new program called “Cash For Registers” where it will buy old registers from businesses that wish to install PayPal Here, its own iPad-oriented point-of-sale system—and it's waiving payment-processing fees for the rest of the year.


Groupon also unveiled a new iPad-friendly version of its Breadcrumb point-of-sale software today.

Already, Revel Systems uses the iPad and Intuit can install any variety of smartphones or tablets into an effective register replacement. 

Conceptual To Implementation

Four factors are driving the implementation of iPad point-of-sale systems in small and medium-sized businesses:

  • Install cost: It is often cheaper to buy an iPad and a couple of accessories that it is to go through a major point-of-sale vendor like Aloha or Micros, whose devices can cost thousands of dollars apiece.
  • Interchange: The classic credit-card readers often have a variety of hidden costs for the business. They take a few percentage points of the total sale and often have a monthly fee or minimum that must be reached by the merchant, driving up their take to an effective rate of 3 to 5 percent for many merchants. Square charges interchange of 2.75% with no hidden fees on swiped transactions. A company like LevelUp does not charge interchange, but rather makes money as a marketing and advertising platform, offering incentives to users. 
  • Mobile acceptance: A couple of years ago (even last year, when we first noticed the iPad point-of-sale trend), smartphone and tablet adoption were still in relative infancy. That has changed in a big way extraordinarily quickly. In just a few years, smartphones are now the norm. Second and third wave mainstream consumer adopters are now looking at them not as some weird fad but as practical tools for solving problems.
  • Ease of use: Anyone can hit a few buttons on an iPad and swipe a credit card. Proprietary register systems pose a training nightmare. 

Square's new Stand product promises to be more durable than the older plug-in card swiper. Square merchants like Blue Bottle were known to stock multiple replacement swipers in case one went bad—but no one wants to fiddle with hardware while customers are waiting.

PayPal is taking a less prescriptive approach than Square's integrated hardware and software, but it too is pushing iPad-based solutions. It rolled out an iPad version of PayPal Here in March, with one nice feature from its parent company, eBay: Merchants can scan barcoded inventory for easy input into the register's list of items for sale.

"The reason the iPad is such a great device is it's touchscreen; you can integrate it with devices like receipt printers; it's relatively affordable," says PayPal president David Marcus. "It's the ideal device."

Marcus says PayPal's seen many merchants upgrade from the smartphone version to the iPad version.

"We just want to accelerate the inevitable," Marcus says of PayPal's move to offer free payment processing to merchants who take it up on the register turn-in offer. The cash register "is a dumb device," he says, that doesn't handle features like loyalty tracking or remote ordering.

At 1369, Gerber knew that he would eventually need to go digital, at least to the bare minimum of accepting credit cards. Yet, the average check at 1369 (or really any other coffee shop) is in the $4-$5 range. When you are processing a lot of small transactions, that interchange rate becomes painful. That is why it is good for businesses when payment processors battle on interchange and lower rates for everybody.

We are now in a phase in the Mobile Revolution where we are seeing concepts become reality. This is not just some startup CEO saying, “I am going to change the world” or a huge gadget manufacturer telling us that this is the next big thing. These are real implementations we can see, feel and touch, in our neighborhoods and at our coffee shops. 

Photo via 1369 Coffee House

Owen Thomas contributed reporting to this story.

Tags: PayPal

August 22 2012

PayPal Inks Deal With Discover, Giving Access to 7 Million Merchants

In another sign that mobile payments are going mainstream, PayPal on Wednesday announced a deal with Discover that will expand PayPal's footprint to 7 million merchants next year.

Starting in April 2013, participating merchants who offer Discover will begin accepting payments from PayPal's 113 million active users. In a press release, the companies said merchants won't have to install or upgrade existing point-of-sale hardware and software to accept the payments. Instead, in-store signage will make customers aware of the capability.

The deal comes on the heels of another major industry announcement -- Square's partnership with Starbucks, which will adapt the former's mobile payment…
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More About: Square, discover, mobile payments, paypal, starbucks

August 20 2012

August 18 2012

5 Ways to Pay for Dinner With Your Phone

mobile payments
Mobile payment transactions are predicted to reach $1.3 trillion per year by 2017, and the restaurant industry appears ripe to scarf down a hefty chunk of that money flying around electronically.

But while news about the mobile payments space has intensified lately -- Square's deal with Starbucks, Discover's nod to Google Wallet and Dunkin' Donuts's new gifting/payment app -- pay-by-phone services have yet to hit mainstream status as many consumers are still confused about their options.

To help clear confusion, here are five ways you may start paying for your next dinner with your phone.

Order Meals With Digital Delivery and Takeout Services

Food delivery apps and websites su…
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More About: Food, Google, Pay With Square, Payment Services, Seamless, Squar, TheLevelUp, dwolla, eccomerce, google wallet, grubhub, levelup, mobile apps, mobile payments, paypal, venmo

January 06 2012

eBay Instant Sale Pays You in Seconds for Old Electronics and Unwanted Gifts

Out with the old and in with shiny new gadgets. If you’re among those gadget-owners getting rid of the “old,” plenty of retailers offer ways to sell back your unwanted electronic holiday presents and old gadgets. Here’s another: eBay Instant Sale.

The eBay Instant Sale service lets you skip the lengthy eBay bidding process and sell your electronics directly for cash online or through an iPhone application, receiving a PayPal payment in seconds.

Get $30 to $42 for an Apple iPhone 2G and about $72 to $130 for 3G and 3GS iPhones. Offers are up to $194 for newer iPhone 4 models. Sellers eager to make quick cash can get up to $407 for a 64 GB iPhone 4S, $328 for 16GB and $347 for 32GB.

Newer MacBook Pros and MacBook Air sales will put around $400 to $800 in your pocket.

The instant offers service is enabled by an eBay team working with AllTechWholeSale, a top-rated eBay seller. eBay does not receive a cut in these sales. The eBay Instant Sale service launched in October 2010 in a testing phase and re-launched as a full version in February 2011. Since then, more than 4 million offers have been generated.

The top five sales have been Apple iPhones, Samsung, HTC, Blackberry and Motorola products, according to the AllTechWholeSale team.

To find out how much your electronic product is worth, input a brand or product name, then complete a short survey about the storage capacity, functionality, power adapter availability, and its physical condition in terms of display, missing components, scratches and more. Broken gadgets can be traded up for cash too.

There is also an updated version of the Instant Sales app, eBay’s 10th iPhone-capable app, available. The current version is compatible with iPod touch and iPad.

As a seller, after after you accept the eBay Instant Sales immediate offer, you’ll get a prompt to print a free shipping label, so you can pack and ship your unwanted items.

Other trade-in services include Gazelle, which also offers free shipping (not applicable to items worth less than $1). Payment is available via check, Amazon gift card or PayPal. Best Buy similarly offers an electronics buy-back program. Customers can drop off items at certain Best Buy locations in exchange for a gift card. There are guaranteed rates for purchases that fluctuate in value depending on when you sell the items after you buy them.

Are you willing to trade in your gadgets using eBay Instant Sale? Have you used any of these options to get money for your old gadgets?

Here are 10 tech retailers that will pay for your old electronics.

1. Gazelle

Gazelle is a reCommerce service that will take iPads, external hard drives, GPS devices, satellite radios, Blu-ray movies and other gadgets. If your item isn’t listed, you can contact them for a personalized quote. Payment can be made via Amazon gift card, checks, PayPal, or you can opt to have the funds donated to one of the charities they work with.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jordan Sangerman

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Jean-Baptiste Maurice

More About: apple, blackberry, ebay, electronics, paypal

January 05 2012

5 Things Yahoo’s New CEO Must Do Now

yahoo logo sign 360

OK, Yahoo, now you’ve done it. You’ve gone with PayPal tech whiz Scott Thompson for your new CEO, and that’s fine.

Picking a technologist as your new leader wasn’t what everybody wanted you to do (if the market is any indication). But the move is a clear bet, and Thompson himself says he wants the company to innovate again. The question now is: Do you have enough confidence in your choice to play the hand without folding?

Yahoo’s stock fell yesterday after the news, and it’s struggling today. Scuttlebut says that’s because investors wanted Yahoo’s board to move closer to either selling the company or actually following through on turning the brand into a media powerhouse — a goal that eluded previous CEO Carol Bartz, who was fired last fall.

Thompson is a technology guy, not a business or media guy, so it’s obvious why Wall Street is disappointed. It’s also been said he has no “turnaround” experience, and rejuvinating a digital brand is a nigh-impossible task. But the board clearly liked what it saw in Thompson, who started at PayPal in 2005 as chief technology officer, then rose to president 2008.

PayPal grew a lot during that time, but so did online commerce in general. Now Thompson has a chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke, and Yahoo has another shot — probably its last — to revive its brand. That must be its plan in picking Thompson, though to get the company moving in the right direction again he’ll need to make some big strategic moves, some of them painful. Check out our recommendations in the gallery below.

1. Get Back Into Search

Yahoo partnered with Microsoft to have Bing power its search engine a couple of years ago, part of a deal that let Yahoo run advertising for both. While the arrangement may make sense from a financial standpoint, it robs Yahoo of direct control over one of its primary products, and strengthen's Bing's brand more than Yahoo's. Sure, most people familiar with tech were using Google or Bing anyway, but the move basically told them to never come back.

Those tech-savvy people are influencers, and Yahoo needs to win them back if it's ever going to grow again. Ending its soul-leasing deal with Microsoft would free Yahoo up to innovate in one area most associated with the brand. Yes, Google is the 400-megaton gorilla in the room, but ceding the search-engine war when you're primary business is advertising is like saying you'll fight, but you're leaving the heavy weapons at home.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: bing, carol bartz, Google, paypal, Scott Thompson, Yahoo

January 04 2012

Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson Wants Yahoo to Innovate Again

Yahoo’s freshly minted CEO Scott Thompson is a believer, and he did his darnedest during his first public call as Yahoo’s new leader to convince everyone else that the company is ready to return to “the forefront on innovation online and with the businesses that benefit from online.”

It’s was a surprisingly lively 40-minute speech and Q&A with the fast-talking Thompson who had nothing but praise for his new home. “I’m convinced that the core business assets are stronger here at Yahoo than people believe,” said Thompson, who plans on focusing on growing shareholder value, top-line growth, unique visitors and ad dollars.

“It’s a huge opportunity and great challenge,” admitted Thompson, who also noted that speed is critical. Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock, who was also on the call, said Yahoo has “treaded water here, and what we need to do now is build on those assets and start swimming at a very fast clip.”

Thompson, who has only been on the job a day, was short on details — in fact he did not mention a single Yahoo property by name — about how he would drive growth, innovation and advertising dollars. His experience at PayPal, where he was president, though, taught him that building great Internet products inside great customer experiences is key to growth and deepening consumer engagement.

One potential area for growth Thompson has already identified is Yahoo’s data assets. He looked at “How much data all these wonderful businesses Yahoo have” and is confident “that data is going to be exploitable … for next-generation products and in other spaces in advertising and marketing.”

Thompson’s background, however, is not in sales and marketing. He served as PayPal’s chief technology officer before rising to the role of president. For some, this is a red flag, but Yahoo Chairman Bostock dismissed the concern. “The key to success in advertising is providing a great customer experience,” said Bostock, adding, “Scott has proven at PayPal is that he knows how to create great customer experiences.”

Thompson’s arrival, however, will not change Yahoo’s plans to monetize its Asian assets, which include Alibaba. Bostock said Thompson is up to speed and will be involved in the process. However, Bostock also promised Thompson will not be “distracted” by it.

Mobile, naturally, will also play a role in Yahoo’s chances for future success. “Mobile is a really big question for Yahoo and a big opportunity for this business,” Thompson told the call audience. He acknowledged that the Yahoo experience has to be “great across all devices.” Interestingly, Yahoo started as a mobile pioneer, rolling out mobile-specific interfaces years ahead of many competitors — perhaps too early — yet is now viewed as behind. One Twitter commented noted, “How 5 years ago.”

Thompson, who said he is “genuinely excited to be here,” admitted that he’s still getting to know everyone at Yahoo, but offered high praise for current execs and other Yahoo employees, including the content team. “People,” he noted, “determine whether or not you win or lose in the market.”

Still, Thompson must know he’ll have to get his hands dirty as he digs through Yahoo’s legacy businesses to understand exactly which ones are and are not delivering Yahoo’s reported 700 million monthly unique visitors (worldwide). “As with any business, there’s always a tremendous amount of work to do,” said Thompson.

The new CEO envisions an online landscape of radical change in the next five to 10 years and wants Yahoo to be a part of delivering these “disruptive concepts.” He sees it as part of Yahoo’s identity. Added Thompson, “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that was possible.” This does not sound like a CEO gearing up for a merger or acquisition.

How do you rate Yahoo’s chances for success? Tell us in the comments below.

More About: ebay, paypal, Yahoo

December 31 2011

Top 15 Most Shocking Social Media Disasters of 2011

1. GoDaddy CEO Shoots Elephant

The web was in shock after GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons released a video of him shooting a "problem elephant" in Zimbabwe. PETA responded by shutting down its GoDaddy account and asking others to do the same.

Toward the end of December, new GoDaddy CEO Warren Adelman announced in a site forum that the company officially opposes the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). In just two days, the announcement caused tens of thousands of GoDaddy customers to cancel their accounts.

Click here to view this gallery.

Now, we don’t like to be negative, but social media inevitably lends itself to some epic fails. Whether it’s insensitive tweets or indecent pictures, people too often post without thinking. That’s the nature of today’s social network-obsessed world.

Let’s take a look at 15 of the most memorable social media mistakes of 2011. We’ve dug up everything from GoDaddy‘s elephant shooting video to @Qwikster‘s smoking Elmo. Curious about the rest? Flip through the gallery and add your commentary below.

More About: blackberry, fail, features, godaddy, Google, netflix, paypal, Social Media

December 14 2011

PayPal to Challenge Groupon in Daily Deals

EBay’s PayPal unit plans to take on Groupon in early 2012 with a new service that will offer coupons based on users’ buying habits and mobile phone locations.

PayPal has partnered with 200 U.S. merchants for the offering, says Anuj Nayar, a PayPal rep. The service will launch in the first quarter of next year. Nayar declined to say who the merchants are.

Though others, such as Facebook and Yelp, have attempted and failed to compete in the daily deals segment, Nayar says PayPal will use the knowledge of its 103 million customers’ preferences and mobile technology from the recently acquired Where to make the offers more relevant than what Groupon, LivingSocial and Amazon (which is also a LivingSocial investor), currently offer.

“As a 40 year-old male, I don’t think I’ll ever use a coupon for 50% off bikini wax,” Nayar says, referring to irrelevant deals from competitors. Nayar says the goal is to use laser beam-like targeting to make sure the offers are germane.

PayPal’s entry could shake up the daily deals category, which is estimated to more than double to $4.17 billion in 2015, according to researcher BIA/Kelsey.

The report comes after other recent attempts to grow PayPal’s estimated $4.7 billion total payment volume, including a Facebook app designed to send money to friends unveiled in November and a mobile payment system that made its debut that month.

Meanwhile, PayPal’s parent company, eBay, has been offering online daily deals for years, Nayar says.

More About: ebay, Facebook, groupon, LivingSocial, paypal, yelp

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