EMV and Apple Pay for Your Business

EMV and Apple Pay Benefits



Europay, MasterCard, and VISA (EMV) have been a standard payment method in Europe and Canada for the past decade. Since its implementation, credit card and POS fraud has decreased significantly. When an EMV card is used, a microprocessor creates a unique code for every transaction to make it difficult to steal card numbers. The USA is currently transitioning.


In October 2014, President Obama signed the “Buysecure”, an executive order to speed EMV adoption in the US. The transition to EMV in the US has been slow. Below is a list of current global EMV terminal adoption trends:


  1. Western Europe: 99.9%

  2. Canada: 84.7%

  3. Asia Pacific: 71.4%

  4. USA: 0.03%

    1. 47% of credit card fraud comes from the USA


Credit card companies and lawmakers stated in early 2014 the US would make a transition starting October 1, 2015. After this date, businesses without EMV hardware will be liable for fraudulent, in-person payments. In 2015,  575,000,000 credit and debit cards will be reissued in the US due to this shift. Although still hackable, EMV’s prevent the growth of fraud due to their microprocessor chip that stores and protects cardholder data safer than magnetic strip cards.


In 2014 Home Depot, Michaels, Neiman Marcus, and many other retail stores experienced system breaches which resulted in millions of customers data being stolen. This breach was a call for a more secure payment method. Obama spoke at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about the transition to EMV saying, “the goal isn’t just to ensure the security of doing retail business with government but also through the increased demand, to help drive the market towards swifter adoption of stronger security standards”. Home Depot, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens promised to start activating EMV terminals by January 2015 and American Express and VISA have pledged to begin programs to change small business owners and consumers to EMV in 2015.



Apple Pay is a digital wallet/mobile payment service offered by Apple Inc which allows its’ users to make payments using an iPhone 5 and later models. It also allows its users to use an Apple Watch, iPad air 2 and mini 3 to make payments. Apple Pay creates a digital replacement for credit and debit card terminals and allows Apple devices to wirelessly communicate with POS systems using a near field communication antenna, that stores encrypted payment data and Apple’s Touch ID Passbook.


Apple Pay secures customer payment data privately from retailers and creates a “dynamic code generated for each transaction.” It doesn’t track usage which will stay between the customers, vendors, and banks. If you lose your iPhone, use the “Find my iPhone” app to haul Apple Pay on your device. Users can add their participating financial institution to Apple Pay and still reap the benefits from them. Financial institutions marketed individual Apple Pay campaigns for consumers to join them as their default choice. Click here to see if your bank participates in ApplePay.


How To Use Apple Pay:


  • Hold the authenticated Apple device to the POS system

    1. authenticate by holding fingerprint to the phone’s Touch ID Sensor

    2. Apple Watch users double click a spot on the device


Apple Pay comes at the right time when the US’s shift toward EMV payment standards are being initiated. The EMV hardware allows for contactless payment capabilities that Apple Pay uses. The EMV transition is only going to increase the use of consumers using Apple Pay.


Benefits of Apple Pay


  1. Increased security and privacy for your consumers

  2. Mainstreaming mobile payments provides an additional opportunity to compete

  3. It’s convenient in that there’s no need to wait for a waiter/waitress at a restaurant because you can pay when you wish on your mobile device

  4. Convenience will lead to happy customers and happy customers will return to your establishment

  5. Market to past consumers directly to their mobile device with weekly updates or specials

Managing Your Business with CMS


Businesses and organizations can be improved in so many ways through the beneficial tools provided through the Internet. Every business needs to be able to show as many people as they can the products or services in which they offer in an organized manner. A great way to get this done is through a Content Management System. A CMS is an application which lets the user create, publish, and edit their unique content while being able to organize and delete content through a central interface.


So, what exactly does a CMS do? A CMS is most commonly used for running websites or blogs and can provide whatever content you allow on your site. There are a variety of CMS’s available throughout the web and while each of them is different, they all have commonalities. CMS’s provide a much simpler way to manage your workflow while being able to collaborate with others on the same website being managed. The manager doesn’t need to learn how to code in order to manage their website but most CMS’s support custom coding as a feature.


Benefits of CMS


  • Shareable content on a centralized interface

  • Helps provide accurate content that managers can publish, edit, or modify easily

  • Site managers are notified if there’s a deadline or due date on content to be published

  • Provides simple ways of publishing in a timely manner


Before committing to a CMS for your business or organization, first you should consider how you’d benefit from it. CMS’s, while similar, each provide different tools.


Here’s what you should consider:


  • Provide a way to make your website responsive for users throughout different platforms

  • The ability to customize everything (color, text, font, content placement) makes your site unique and stand out

  • Give editors, publishers, and managers permission to work on only specific tasks

  • Provide editable data that influences SEO

  • Multi website support is key to managing multiple sites

  • Ability to return to an older version of your site when you make mistakes

  • Consider whether or not you want access to a blog for your business or organization


There are many different and unique CMS’s throughout the web. They can be as simple as admin area on your website where you can update a message on your homepage to a  complicated system where prior versions are stored, you can preview your changes, and approval is required before the changes become publish.  There are commercial out of the box CMS’s and there are custom one.  Some popular boxed CMS’s are:


  • WordPress

  • Drupal

  • Joomla

  • ExpressionEngine

  • TextPattern


WordPress Details


Pros

  • Easy to use and includes the ability to add as many pages as you see fit.

  • Everything you need to manage your site is included in the software. It’s customizable without knowing much code

  • Great for SEO. Coding behind the program is simple and clean, allowing search engines to read and index your site with ease.

  • Originally a blogging website and still includes full blogging capabilities.

  • Add plugins to your site to increase functionality, including a calendar, videos, and social media feeds and “liking” ability, most of which are cheap or free.

Cons


  • Many people find the interface hard to use at first

  • You need to keep current on updates for WordPress and the plugins on your site to keep secure

  • The user must be careful to keep the styling of the pages consistent throughout the site

  • Adding new functionality can be difficult

  • An inexperienced user can make a change that affects the entire site


Custom CMS

CMS can be simple.  We often add simple CMS to websites where an admin user can log in and then the work edit appears below all the blocks of text.  When the users clicks on edit, a Microsoft Word link pop ups where the user can change the text and/or add a link.  The result is an easy to use system where users can update the text on their site.


Another custom CMS we often add to sites is a news or events database.  The system allows the user to give details of the events including title, a photo, short description, and long description.  The website then handles the formatting and positioning of the information so the page maintains a consistent appearance and function.  Users can focus on the content not the presentation.


Software Solutions has also developed complicated CMS projects for clients including a full college website where many people can contribute content but a limited number of people can approve changes. Data from many sources are pulled together on the website.  Another project integrates advertising and thousands of business articles together with the directory structure. For these and other clients Software Solutions was able to provide a CMS to meet their unique needs, critical to their business’s success.


Summary


Content Management Systems are a great way to expand your unique business if you choose one that fulfills your specific needs. Contact us today to discuss how we can set up your company or organization through a Content Management System or how we can grow your business.

Simple SEO Fixes to Benefit Your Website

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, affects where your website shows up on a search engine’s unpaid or organic results. SEO is a way to get your site to appear above your competitor on a search engine. The website is ranked based on the algorithms set in place by the engineers working at the search engine. Although SEO gets difficult, there are simple, proven things you can do to improve your visibility on a website without spending a fortune on a team of SEO consultants.


Optimizing each of your website’s pages with unique, descriptive titles, URLs, and descriptions improves SEO. A meta-description is the text that appears below the blue link on a search engine. Meta-titles appear as a links’ text on a search engine and should be kept short, yet descriptive, while unique to each individual page. This is the first thing a user sees on a search engine so, what your description and title says can either have them on your website or your competitor’s.


It is easier to implement SEO best practices during the initial creation of a website than after but there are always ways to improve on it. Websites should be optimized to be as descriptive and specific as possible.


Optimizing Keywords

  • Tailor your websites keywords to match relevant text throughout the website

  • Optimize your website with keywords unique to the area you serve

    • ex: ‘Long Island,’ New York,’ ‘software development’

  • Be as specific as possible so search engines match you and your target audience accurately


Providing new content with lots of text that match your keywords is another step in making your site rank higher for SEO. Keeping your site up-to-date is important so updating its content is vital in SEO. Relevant articles, videos, infographics, slideshows, comments, reviews, and anything that can be related back to your website is good SEO practice.


Links and SEO

  • Increase links from outside sources to a variety of pages on your website

  • Post links to your website from your company/organization’s social media pages

  • Create well-formatted URLs because a reader is less likely to click on links with random numbers, letters, and symbols after the page name

  • Link pages within your website to each other to hint to search engines that the pages you’re linking to are important to your website


Improving page load speeds optimizes your website for SEO but also creates a better atmosphere for users because your website is now running faster and smoother. When a competitor’s website is running faster than yours, it is more likely to take a potential client from you. Your website will also be more likely to get more page views because people are staying on your website longer. When your website’s pages load faster it makes navigation easier which means potential clients are staying on longer.


Simple Ways to Get Your Page to Load Quicker

  • Remove large images

  • Remove unnecessary Javascript files

  • Move to a faster hosting provider


Google provides many free tools to help businesses improve their SEO. Registering your website with the Google SEO tools doesn’t only help you understand how your website is being ranked but also helps to improve your ranking with the search engines.


Google Provided SEO Tools

Optimizing Efficiency with Custom Inventory Management Software


Inventory management is very important in the world of  business. So what is inventory management you ask? Inventory management is knowing what products a business has in its warehouse and where they are. There’s plenty of off-the-shelf software that can help a business keep track of this, however, most businesses have a more complicated management system for their inventory that handles more than simply keeping track of product location.


Custom Inventory Management Software is designed and developed to be tailored to a business's specific needs. There will be no unnecessary features on your software, making it much easier to use and navigate. Top businesses use custom software to integrate with their back-office systems, optimizing inventory management. All businesses have different inventory and it is beneficial for optimization to make inventory management custom.


Benefits to Your Business

  • Custom inventory management software integrated with a businesses back-office system can ensure that the asset value on financial reports matches what is physically in stock without manual intervention and reconciliation

  • Your business will collect accurate data for inventory on-hand to satisfy consumers and investors

  • This ensures consumers get the freshest product and investors know if there is working capital tied up in inventory


Software Solutions has extensive experience in developing custom inventory management software. A manufacturer of modular hotels, school dorms, and houses came to us with a problem they were having with their current system. The staff here created custom software to track parts used on jobs to create a more efficient, less time consuming system to organize daily tasks. The custom software managed parts coming from vendors with different prices and notified workers when inventory was running low. All the information handled created PO's with the best prices. The software also included a bar-code scanner running on a mobile phone to create a touch-screen interface that conveniently displays relevant info.


Software Solutions tailored a custom inventory management system for a lighting company as well. Working with this company's management team, we designed and implemented a web-based system to manage every aspect of the business from sales to order processing to efficiently optimize their inventory needs.


Let us help you with your custom inventory management software.

Are Your Passwords Secure?


Everyday online, private accounts are breached due to weak, easily hackable passwords. Many passwords are so weak that they are useless due to their simplicity. The Federal Trade Commission reports that consumers identity theft is their number 1 online concern. Using a password for multiple sites is the equivalent of giving someone a skeleton key to access your online accounts.


Every year, Splashdata releases a list of the worst passwords. Some items included on the list were children’s names, curse words, sports teams, and sequential keys on a keyboard.

Online security expert Mark Burnett says,


The bad news from my research is that this year’s most commonly used passwords are pretty consistent with prior years. The good news is that it appears that more people are moving away from these passwords. In 2014 the top 25 passwords represented about 2.2% of passwords exposed. While still frightening, that’s the lowest percentage of people using the most common passwords I've seen in recent studies.”


Biometrics is a new, revolutionary concept for password protection that has become more popular in recent years. Biometrics identifies distinctive and measurable characteristics of individuals. Physical characteristics identifies fingerprints, palm veins, face recognition, DNA, palm print, hand geometry, retina and iris recognition, and odor/scent. Behavioral characteristics relate to human behavior such as typing rhythm, gait, and voice.


Although this is all very technical and the general public typically doesn't have access to this sort of technology, there are steps you can take to make sure your online accounts are safe from people trying to access your information.


Customizing a password for each of your accounts is a safe and easy way to keep your information secure. Think of a keyword you will use for each website. For example, let’s use “Smile.” When creating an account, use that keyword plus another that identifies the website. “Smilebooks” would be sufficient for the Barnes and Nobles website. To make this password extra secure, adding numbers and special characters help. “Smilebooks975&” is much harder to guess than something you've been using for years for all the same accounts because it is personalized for this specific website.


Password Tips

  • Don't use personal information in your passwords that people can easily guess

  • Use lowercase and capital letters

  • Include special characters and numbers

  • Don't use the same password on multiple sites

Business Growth With Responsive Web Design

Viewing web content and apps on multiple devices such as phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops is great but, responsive web design is what makes your time spent on these pages more enjoyable.


Responsive web design is what causes screen size to automatically fit the device the content is being displayed on. Optimizing the contents’ layout through responsive web design creates a clearer view users. When viewing a website on a mobile device, the site usually zooms out so that the full page can be viewed. By optimizing and adapting the content for these devices, the developers, designers, or digital publishers may consider the website to zoom in on important information.


Responsive Web Design and Your Business


1. Responsive web design makes for a better user experience which makes your business grow

2. It's Google’s preferred design pattern and helps rank businesses higher in search engines making it more visible

3. Internet access makes up 60% of adult cell phone activity and it's important users view a responsive site

4. 74% of users say they will leave a page if it takes longer than 5 seconds to load 

5. 30% of potential customers leave your site if it is not mobile optimized 

6. For every 100 milliseconds in load time, sales decrease by 1% 

7. Websites optimized for the format they’re viewed on create a faster website load speed and easier navigation 

8. Having a mobile site is an extra avenue to market your business and increase email lists


Someone on a smartphone searching a specific store would find it useful if the site zoomed in on the address/map, phone number, or services, rather than seeing the entire page. Smartphone users are more likely to be on the move and have less time to navigate the page compared to someone at a desktop computer. Content the viewer is looking for could be too small if it isn’t optimized correctly for mobile devices.


Stats on Mobile Users (American Adults)

  • 90% own a cell phone

  • 58% own a smartphone

  • 32% own an ereader

  • 42% own a tablet


Software Solutions Consulting, Inc. has extensive experience with incorporating responsive web design into site development to help client businesses. Island Ski Tours is a site that offers ski trip planning to a variety of mountains for ski and snowboard enthusiasts in which Software Solutions optimized with responsive web Design. We can convert your existing site to include responsive web design to help your business grow! Click here and check out what we did for this project! The images below show responsive web design for the site’s different formats.


Desktop

Tablet

Mobile


Click here to contact us and we can discuss this more. You can check out more of our projects while you’re there.

Windows 10 Spartan: The End of Internet Explorer?

Windows 10 Spartan: The End of Internet Explorer?


Microsoft recently released a codename to the new web browser it will be releasing with Windows 10. The new browser, Spartan, will have features that current, rival browsers lack. Windows 10 users have the opportunity to annotate notes on a webpage using a stylus. This new service, powered by Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, includes a feature to save a copy of the noted page to be accessed over multiple platforms (tablets, phones). Once shared, users with access to the annotated page can edit it.



Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant will also be included in Spartan. Cortana will be used to access and track data such as flight times and tracking numbers, for example. Through the address bar, users can search for “American Airlines” and get instant results on tracked flights and view the status of flights directly.


Spartan will include a cleaner, more organized way of grouping tabs. Also, Microsoft will include a Windows Web Store app which will make it easier for updates in the future. Spartan will be available across PCs, tablets, and phones.


                                                            

Although, Internet Explorer will be included for legacy compatibility reasons with Windows 10, it is unclear at this time if Microsoft will continue the same branding. The desktop version of Spartan appears to be a simplified Google Chrome. It includes similar tab structure above the address bar with back, forward, and refresh buttons. An event is planned for January 21, 2015 to release more information (with more phone and tablet features) but, for now, this is what we’ve learned.