Monthly Archives April 2017

Is Spotify making its own hardware?

StreamingSpotify is the most popular music streaming service available, and according to The Verge, they’re now branching out. Spotify looks to be working on a wearable device which the website describes as “a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles” that will “affect the way the world experiences music and talk content.”

This description was first noticed in a job listing, and describes a pretty huge aspiration. Very little has been disclosed about what exactly Spotify has in mind, but we know the the device will have internet connectivity, and will come directly from Spotify. Meaning, it won’t be an integration product with another company’s device.

By comparing its imagined product to the Pebble, Echo, and Spectacles, Spotify is telling us it is definitely interested in the wearables market. Obviously – the product will be music-geared. This speculation comes about a decade after the iPod lost traction after the introduction of the iPhone. Perhaps now there is an opportunity to fill that gap.

It is important to keep in mind that because this news was found on a job listing, the product is likely still in very early stages, and it is impossible to know when we can expect Spotify’s anticipated device.

Why 95% of Businesses Overpay for their Merchant Services

Be honest with yourself. Have you ever said any of these common phrases below?

“We do a pretty good job making sure our costs are low.”

“We already switched vendors and are certain we have good rates.”

“We were told we have the lowest rates.”

“We really like our rep. They take good care of us.”

Well, these statements are more or less defense mechanisms created by our subconscious to convince ourselves that we’re not getting taken advantage of.
The truth is, how can you possibly know if your rates are as low as they should be? If you don’t know, then you are probably overpaying. There’s nothing wrong with you… you are just like nearly everyone else!

There are several reasons 95% of businesses overpay for their merchant services:

1.   Limited data for optimizing their merchant processing configuration.
2.   Lack of time to focus on a non-core activity.
3.   The traditional sales rep-client relationship.

Limited Data

Depending on the size of the business, the job of setting up and tracking merchant services costs might fall on the owner, CFO, accounting, IT, business manager, or maybe even someone in accounts payable. In almost every case, the services in question are a necessity, and the individual charged with setting up or maintaining the service has little or no expertise in merchant processing. After all,why would they?


Now, in contrast, just imagine:

  You had a database containing the details of over 17,000 merchant services pricing deals from all different types of industries.
  You had software specifically designed to “lift the fog” and make it easy to understand all the different fee categories associated with your pricing model.
  You had someone who followed the ever-changing markets daily and had the negotiation strength of a large national organization.
  You had someone who knows all the unpublished deals, as well as how system or process tweaks can save thousands?

What are the chances your rates would be lower? You guessed it – about 95%!

Lack of Time

Let’s cut to the chase… is your time more valuable doing what you excel at for your business, or trying to become a cost reduction specialist in merchant processing? What is the opportunity cost of taking focus off the core business?

Instead of taking your eye off the ball, just imagine:

  For less than you pay today, you can have a team of professionals that handle all things related to merchant processing.
  For less than you pay today, you have a team of professionals who hold suppliers accountable, looking for billing errors and suggesting additional cost savings if/when they occur… all while you focus on your core business.

Would that free up time and give you some peace of mind?

The Traditional Sales Rep-Client Relationship

This might be the most important differentiation between Schooley Mitchell and the rest of the market. Consider the true objective of a sales rep: their job is to get business for their employer in the most profitable way possible, and make it more profitable over time. Is this a bad thing or does it make sales reps bad? Of course not, it’s how business works and is a necessary aspect of free markets
and capitalism.

Now, instead of the traditional sales rep-client relationship, just imagine:

  A consultant who is only paid if savings are found and implemented.
  A consultant who is paid a portion of found savings after you realize the savings.
  A consultant whose pay is exactly equal to the value they bring.
  A consultant who is unbiased as to who provides the given service and is completely objective with cost-saving recommendations.

In a nutshell, for less than you pay today, you can have a professional team that optimizes the merchant services configuration for your business.

Is the 95% accurate? Yes, that percentage is compiled from our last 20 years and our 17,000+ clients who have saved more than $260 million!

Bill Gribble is a Strategic-Partner with Schooley Mitchell, North America’s largest independent telecommunications and merchant services consulting firm in North America. On average, we reduce telecom and merchant services expenses by 27-28% and have delivered over $260 million in documented savings to our clients to date. Visit his site at

© Schooley Mitchell 2017

Verizon launches new Fios internet deal

verizon logoResidents of the Northeast United States are in for a treat; new, crazy-fast speeds from Verizon’s internet services. According to CNET, the U.S.’s biggest carrier is rolling out the nation’s largest deployment of gigabit internet, called Fios Gigabit Connection.

Verizon promises download speeds of 940 megabits per second and upload speeds of 880 megabits per second. For comparison, according to the FCC the average American household has speeds starting at 25 megabits per second.

“No cable provider comes close to offering the speeds and power of Fios Gigabit connection on this kind of scale,” said Ken Dixon, president of Verizon’s consumer wireline business, in a statement. “We’ve priced it so that millions can enjoy it.”

Residents in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Richmond, Virginia, Hampton Roads, Virginia, Boston, Providence and Washington, D.C., will have access to this new service. That’s more than eight million homes. Pricing begins at $70 per month, standalone, with a triple-play bundle option for $80.

Verizon’s smartwatch available May 11th

verizonThat’s right, Verizon is getting in on the wearables business. According to The Verge, the carrier recently announced that its $350 Wear24 smartwatch will be available online and in stores on May 11. Verizon is hoping the watch will prove a worthy competitor to LG’s bigger, bulkier Watch Sport and the Huawei Watch 2.

The device runs on Android Wear 2.0 OS and will have 4G LTE connectivity on Verizon’s network. It comes in stainless steel, gunmetal black, and rose gold. The Wear24 has a slightly bigger but more thin battery than its competitors mentioned above.

Smartwatches have not been as popular as projected when they first hit the market, and it is an interesting decision for Verizon to introduce a rather expensive device now. Time will tell if the watch can measure up in terms of performance.

Joe Natale is the new CEO of Rogers Communications

rogersAs of April 19, Rogers is welcoming Joe Natale as its new CEO. According to MobileSyrup, this follows the dismissal of Guy Laurence from the role last year, when Natale could not take over due to his non-complete contract with Telus. Although that contract was not set to expire until July, Rogers said in a statement that it has reached “a confidential agreement” with Telus “to secure his early arrival.”

“I’m really excited to join the Rogers team,” said Natale in a statement sent to MobileSyrup. “The history of the company, the incredible mix of assets, and the growth potential are second to none.”

Rogers Communications currently has over ten million wireless subscribers in Canada, on top of its other businesses such as cable, internet, publishing, and entertainment. It also owns Canada’s sole Major League Baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Google takes on Pinterest with Similar Items tab

GoogleCopycatting is just part of the deal when it comes to tech companies it seems. It started with Facebook stories, and now Google is adapting its search platform to win back some users who might prefer Pinterest. The company’s mobile web and Android app will now feature a “Similar Items” tab, which will point users to more products they love, particularly in regards to fashion and apparel.

In cooperation with “Similar Items” users will also have access to “Style Ideas,” which will “surface inspirational lifestyle images and outfits that show off the fashion product images [they] had been browsing,” according to TechCrunch.

The new search tabs are selected via an algorithm without human involvement, taking advantage of Google’s superior machine learning capabilities.

There’s no way around it – these new features are riding off the coattails of Pinterest’s success. Pinterest has established itself as an artsy, inspirational forum that one might visit as an alternative to Google. Additionally, because Pinterest can link a user directly to a retailer’s site, this means they might never have to visit Google during the online shopping process.

With its new search features, Google is trying to both take some of the attention away from Pinterest, and make its web platform more appealing than its competitor’s popular mobile app. It’s not the first time Google has tried to compete with Pinterest. In 2015 it added a “collections” feature to Image Search, allowing users to organize their favorite images from their searches.

Do Americans need a better understanding of cyber security?

cyber ransom We know we need strong passwords. We know not to do online banking in our local coffee shop. But can we really protect ourselves in the vast world of internet scams and security flaws? According to an article by the Seattle Times and a new survey done by the Pew Research Center – called “What the Public Knows about Cybersecurity” – American adults struggle to recognize phishing schemes or to determine if the website where they’re entering credit-card information is encrypted.

The study focused on 1,055 adults last year, diagnosing their understanding of concepts important to online safety and privacy. Of the thirteen questions asked, only twenty percent of respondents answered eight correctly. With a median score of five correct answers, the survey found that public awareness is a serious concern when aiming to prevent cyber threats.

“It is probably our number one concern and number one vulnerability,” said retired Rear Adm. Ken Slaght, head of the San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence. “These attackers keep upping their game. It has gone well beyond the jumbled, everything misspelled email.”

Stephen Cobb, a security researcher for anti-virus software firm ESET said he was “disappointed that only 33 percent were aware of what the ‘s’ in ‘https’ meant.” The ‘s’ stands for secure, and it a good way to know whether or not a website it safe for online payments.

“You wonder if people know what a URL is,” Cobb continued. “Do they know how to read a URL? So there is plenty of work to be done.”

Payment alternatives go unexplored as credit cards used increasingly for small purchases

canstockphoto17280434You’ve probably heard said that you shouldn’t use a credit card for small purchases – especially for something under five dollars. According to CNBC, despite this advice being engraved into our increasingly cashless society, it seems that it isn’t proving effective with younger generations.

A study done by of 1,001 adults shows that seventeen percent of people have used their credit card to buy something that costs less than five dollars. This might not seem like a lot, but the number has increased eleven percent from last year.

CreditCards.Com senior analyst Matt Schultz suggests that this could be in part due to cards which reward users for monthly spending. Many cards require users to spend $3,000 in the first few months to qualify for bonuses.

Another reason might be that the alternatives just aren’t succeeding. For example, Mike Maughan, head of brand growth and global insights at Qualtrics, says that “mobile payment platforms aren’t exactly catching on.”

The majority responsible for these small purchases, and in fact the generation most likely to use their credit card, are millennials. The very people who were supposed to champion the cause of alternative solutions like Apple Pay are actually failing it. Believe it or not, they are four times more likely to use cash over a mobile payment platform.

New iOS update includes a major security fix

apple logoIf you use an Apple product, you probably noticed that iOS 10.3 was recently released. SlashGear says it has a number of features, but most importantly the update fixes a major security flaw that was responsible for overwhelming 911 call centers across the US last year.

The flaw, created by an eighteen-year-old coder and spread as a link on Twitter, more or less tricked people into placing emergency calls by taking advantage of the fact that iPhones automatically call phone numbers users tap on. 911 centers need lines to be as open as possible, and this bug understandably created some problems.

Apple’s solution for this problem in iOS 10.3 is a simple confirmation prompt that appears before the call is placed.

iOS 10.3 also brings a number of changes to Siri, who now works in collaboration with smart home, smart car, and bill payment apps. It also extends the Find My iPhone feature to Apple’s Earpods – a welcome addition to such a tiny and easily lost accessory.

New Nokia 9 allegedly first smartphone to use OZO Audio

nokia_logoThe Nokia 9 hasn’t been officially announced yet, but it has already generated quite the buzz. There are lots of rumors about its potential specs, but the newest one is very interesting. According to SlashGear, the Nokia 9 will allegedly be the first smartphone to use the company’s new OZO Audio technology – a software based, VR-targeted development that promises to enable any camera to record 360-degree or full spatial audio.

For OZO audio to work, the Nokia 9 would need at least two microphones, but ideally four. It would also probably require a beefier processor than previous Nokia phones. However, it would mean that Nokia could advertise its latest device as not just a smartphone, but a portable multimedia studio.

This could be good news for Nokia, which failed to make a splash with its last three Android phones – the Nokia 3, 5, and 6. As a company that has yet to develop a premium Android smartphone, Nokia is looking to prove they can hang with the big dogs with the Nokia 9.