WordPress is a big deal. Would you like to know how much of a big deal it is? It powers 25% of the internet. That’s billions of pages. 60.5 million new comments appear each month on WordPress. We are, after all, a talkative bunch. So why is it so popular? I’ll walk you through it.
Firstly, WordPress is a well-managed system, we know this because it releases updates every day, this shows that their ear is firmly to the ground as they attempt to continually develop. One way they could do learn about necessary systemic changes is by attending their forums and building based on the activity within. Of course forums are a great place to troubleshoot amongst a community and also projects expand as a result of having a community involved.
WordPress is both front and back end customisable, this means that your website is, in every sense that matters, yours to do what you want with. If you want it to be upside-down and be covered in pictures of watercress then you’re in luck. Of course if you wanted something more conventional, then WordPress offer a massive range of templates for you to choose from. This could considerably save you time on web-design and the templates will be of a good standard, so you can be confident in your website’s new look. Further to this, if you have an existing website, then you can map it to your new WordPress one, whilst this comes at a fee, you then won’t have to double up on domains.
What else is good about WordPress? Well, it’s free. Free is arguably within most people’s budget. On top of being free, it offers a huge range of plugins and widgets to spice up your site and assist in effective management of it. Some examples could include the first ever WordPress plug-in ‘Hello Dolly’. The function of which is to supply a line from the song ‘Hello Dolly’ on each of your WordPress administration pages. More functionally useful plugins could include things like Jetpack, which is a page management tool, telling you how many visits you’ve had to your site; informs you of downtime; automatically optimizes and speeds up images using the global WordPress.com content delivery network and a centralised dashboard for your admin tools. Or perhaps Buddy Press, a plugin that generates a social network. Or WordPress Video Player, which aids in the simple embedding of video media into your site.
WordPress is extensible and popular, an ideal place to start producing your website. For people hoping to build an e-commerce store, the omnipresent WooCommerce module may be a good place to start, a hugely versatile plug-in to WordPress merchants may use to start their e-commerce venture. Cardstream offer their own in house-supported module of WordPress, saving you doubling up on communication when facing any technical problems. Links for the download and GitHub page are below.
The date is May 21st 2015 and the BBC have just released an interesting article (and then so did I), debit and credit card payments have now overtaken that of cash payments. The significance of the outsizing is apparent and the implication of it is this: if you’re not taking payments online, then you’re missing out on money to your organisation; and get this “Cash volumes are expected to fall by 30% over the next 10 years”. So as time goes on more customer opportunities to an organisation will also increase in the digital world, whilst cash usage adopts a nasty looking ski slope-esque motif on data graphs.
What does a business do? Sure, it could get a card machine, but digital payments to organisations don’t all happen in-store, in fact a great many occur on the internet: ecommerce. Let’s look at the main options for taking payments online:
Wire transfers are considered unsafe if the persons involved don’t know each other due to the anonymity factor. These can be used for illegal or fraudulent activities. With everything else though, Cardstream have got your back. What’s more, we don’t actually charge per payment option. Our one month tariff covers all of these options for helping your business take payments online. But behind the ingenious technology we’ve designed and produced to help you, you need a merchant account too. A merchant account is a banking facility whose role it Is to move funds from your clients bank, into your own business bank. Cardstream have relationships with all of these banking services in the UK and are able to refer to any one of them for an account for your business. Our independent relationship with the merchant banks allows a quotes to be built that may be lower than if you were to approach the company individually. You may also hear the merchant banks referred to as an acquiring bank or a merchant acquirer.
For only £18 a month and a small transaction fee, you could begin taking payments online for your business by debit and credit cart and have free Support and Advice from professionals at Cardstream.
The future is only ever full of development, sometimes we can predict it and other times the driving force is super elusive. But we move along in the passenger’s seat regardless, knowing or trying to guess where we end up. Of course some people are better at making predictions than others, with research we can make informed guesses from market trends or where the consumer is pointing. One of the best ways to do this is, arguably, by looking at the past. So here’s an informative e-toast to 2015 and a speculative welcome to 2016.
Change the Channel
Ecommerce is a vast virtual city. The roads are search engines, the shops are representations: it is littered with advice and discussion. It is littered with convenience and transparency. Yet despite some major points in the favour of online payment to retail payment, the high-street still massively outsizes us. There is something about being present, being able to look at goods in 3 glorious dimensions from suppliers that seem more trustworthy, if only because they have a shop front. This isn’t to say that e-commerce is dwindling. In 2015’s second quarter alone, reports revealed that e-commerce retail increased by 14.1 percent since its 2014 counterpart. Oppositely store retail increased by a relatively small margin of 1.0%. But this isn’t a war and there’s no friction between the two, they co-exist, even better they promote and build each-other. Ideas of ‘Unified Commerce’ are predominant (the idea of many channels of the same company sharing data and resources), they can feed each other. For example exclusive in-store promotions when you spend £40 online. Which may be why holistic customer experiences, such as same day delivery are being offered. The customer experiences the same catering as being in store, i.e. instant access to their purchase. 2015 Ecommerce saw delivery times and prices being pressed down and even delivery services joint together with retailers to feed the consuming public in a short a time period as possible. Which may be why one study of 65 million transactions found that 75% of transactions online are given a 5 Star review, the internet, it seems, is a more positive place then we think.
So we know that 2015 was a time for consumer orientated development, with drives to facilitate greater detail in product specification and transparency. M-commerce is another example of an increase in technological demand, our blog early last year reported various predictions about 2015 m-commerce growth. Well as mobile technology and retail confluence, the barriers for e-commerce in 2016 will continue to drop off. Developments such as biometrics for security, larger screens and greater website functionality all help in the m-commerce experience. Which may be why the m-commerce growth is projected to be an exponential 42%, this is comparative to the e-commerce growth as earlier referenced (14.1%). These figures may balance out in the future, or one may gain more sway on the other, but this depends largely on the Smartphone. However with there now being a stunning 2 billion mobile users worldwide, it is an area I feel confident in saying is a key area for development.
Here’s what an info-graphic kindly given by Remarkety has to say on Ecommerce 2015 insights, facts, figures and geography:
Please check out their great and informative website and some of their recommended services:
For those of you who didn’t get a Smartwatch for Christmas and haven’t spent the subsequent few days repeating ‘Okay Google’ and side-swiping at your wrist: baffling less technologically savvy members of the generation before us, I’ll describe what a Smartwatch is, what it does and who does it.
There has been a real take-off in Smartwatches in Ecommerce 2015, in the second quarter Apple sold 3.6 million watches worldwide. Which means they have a 20% share of the wearable technology market, the larger chunk is owned by Fitbit who don’t quite have the function or capabilities that Apple, Samsung devices etc may have to offer, due to them being geared towards a different audience. This means that Apple essentially dominate the first wave or generation of Smartwatch sales.
Why should you get one? Well, the truth is that they’re trendy, functional and convenient. They’re not essential to the use of your everyday communication management, but they help. They’re probably less distracting whilst at your desk than trying to sneak a glance at your phone. Just rotate your wrist and you can see your most recent text or social media prompt. Like Fitbit watches, they track your fitness, I now feel answerable to a watch for my physical well-being. You have an alarm on your wrist, something you’re unlikely to miss if it’s vibrating. You can read and send texts by voice or a button press, saving you trawling through menus and typing. They have templates you can take advantage of pre-installed. The function range depends on the watch, its operating system and the device it’s paired to, but it really makes a great accompaniment to your arsenal of mobile technology.
ApplePay is an awesome reason to get a Smartwatch, with supporting stores or venues you can take advantage of NFC (Near Field Communication) technology by placing your watch against the compatible card reader. Snazzy. Which brings us neatly to our next topic.
Android and Samsung to Join the Fray
With the current monopoly Apple have over the Smartwatch market it is inevitable the rival companies will want a slice of the Apple pie. So in the wake Android and Samsung Pay are going to be coming to the UK. This is big news for android users who have been waiting eagerly to follow the example of the Apple consumers and pay on the go, from the wrist. Whilst we don’t have specific dates, speculation is rife and just because they may be late to the party, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t be able have as much fun. It will depend on the platform and devices from which they operate evolve, the wallets functionality, security, ease of access and just how charming the interface is.
Such payment providers will be expected to comply with the new PSD2 (Payment Service Directives) 2016 instructions. Number 2 is an initiative which seeks to allow such services to be permitted access to cardholder’s banks, this will remove some barriers technology may be facing at the moment. In exchange they have to undergo checks and security usually reserved and imposed more strictly on payment gateways such as Cardstream and other similar institutions.
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Payment Gateway
Well we’ve spoken in some detail about the customer experience, the face of their ecommerce future in 2016. What about the Cardstream future? Well we have only gone and integrated with MasterPass for our merchants and resellers. You can expect this to be released in the kick-off to the New Year, there’s even news articles about our new partnership:
As always we will keep our ears pressed firmly to the ground and mould our service over 2016 to keep it current and ensure our gallant strides continue in the right direction. Watch this space as our list of integrations and developments expands. If you are new to Cardstream or E-commerce generally, why not contact us in 2016 to see how we can assist your business and help it grow.
Happy New Year.
For further details on anything discussed, please see sources below
Remember that time the UK had a bountiful harvest and then created a holiday celebrating it? No? But America did in 1621 and they called it Thanksgiving, Britain being the multicultural foster parents we are, want a piece of that pie. Except not that bit, because that would involve eating turkey twice a year, we actually want to join in on Black Friday, which is to not have a piece of that pie and eat it anyway. But, what is Black Friday and more importantly, who benefits?
Black Friday is the kick off to shopping season, the beginning of the Christmas period, unofficially, and the ideal time to get the goods. This is because it is the last public holiday before Christmas, although the honorary Remembrance Day should be observed, and if we can’t celebrate celebrating Christmas (definitely a celebration in itself), well what can we celebrate? Therefore in the build up to Christmas a frenzied spending day of deals and discounts is in order to make Christmas kinder on the wallet. So, that’s what it is. Well, who benefits from Black Friday?
Good question, and the answer isn’t an easy one. But maybe some statistics will help us find out. I can tell you that the UK is to hit 1 billion pounds within one day of sales for the first time in history, so that definitely sounds like a good thing. The UK economy getting a 1 billion pound investment. Last year’s £810  million has had a gigantic 25% dropped on top of it. The population of Britain may have increased by only 0.5%, an indication that more people are getting involved and those of us who were already involved are spending more also. So a rise in popularity is definitely noticeable. On average over Black Friday 2014, we charged down the aisles, both virtually and physically, spending at a rate of £9,375 every single second. Phew! I bet the stores made some profit out of that, I bet ASDA sold a lot of Orange Juice. I bet they’ll do the same again this year. Nope. It turns out consumer spending doesn’t necessarily equate to profit.
I Predict a Riot
According to an interesting article from the Guardian , ASDA did not have a good time last year. Aside from not making a profit, selling more TVs than bottles of orange juice and having 2 million sales calls before 8am, they decided to reign it in a bit this year. By this they mean either leave it strictly online or spread the festivities over many days to reduce the tumult. The logistics of Black Friday can be a headache. One must consider additional staff members, security, the cost of the goods they’re buying from the industry and the margin they must purchase them to still turn out a profit despite the discount, and extensive additions to their computers for data handling, unsociable hours and the very real possibility of catching a stray left hook trying to break up two people who really want a discounted camera so they can take Black Friday selfies.
It can be considered sensible that ASDA may choose to react in this way. Well are they alone in their decision? No. REI has taken a stand this year and told its staff members, ‘go home and have the day off, furthermore, you’ll be remunerated your usual days’ pay.’ But they’re not alone either. For reasons unbeknownst the Apple Store doesn’t take part in Cyber Monday. An event we’ll touch upon shortly.
So if not all the commercial stores are raking it in, what about the online ones? Well the truth is, yes. Online shopping does fantastically well. Although a server is no different to a store, you can only fit so many people to one hub. So imagine Argos’s surprise when it had 660,000 people visit the online store in one hour last year, although a queue waiting for my item ‘487’ can often feel this long anyway. So some of the major retailers’ websites went down. Even the search team ‘Black Friday’ had tripled in use according to Google . So it seems that online stores benefit, despite maybe a few hiccups.
Do we benefit? Well that’s entirely up to you. It seems that consumers definitely get things cheaper compared to the rest of the year, but would they be inclined to buy another product because of the leftover money they would typically have spent? Would that new product mean you spend more? You’d definitely get value for money in both cases. So it depends on your objective, if you want more for less or you want the same for less and can still afford to heat your house over Christmas, then you’re a winner.
Cyber Monday is the Monday immediately after the Black Friday. It came about when Shop.org realised that “77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a trend that is driving serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday this year” a 2005 notice. 9 years, a coined term and marketing investment upon marketing investment later online sales grew to a record of $2.68 billion.
Although there is much in common between these two material events, for example the busyness and commercial element. They do vary in these details in themselves. For example, it is an event more geared towards online shopping as opposed to the High Street. What people purchase changes too, for example clothing sells more in comparison to Black Friday, where TVs and beauty products sell.
Plus it looks as though online pandemonium is a lot less physically painful than real pandemonium and we have the internet to attend to us all individually at the same time, something impossible in Walmart at 11am with a human representative during the midst of Black Friday.
This year we expect sales to reach $3 billion on our Cyber Monday globally. Happy spending.
Growing up we are bombarded by clichés as part of a primary education. One of the most prominent of these, at least for me, was ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. Of course I owned neither an egg nor a basket, but now I could potentially own a merchant account and payment gateway…
Flying the Coop
Cardstream are a PCI DSS Level 1 independent payment gateway. This means that we are a gateway that is not attached to just one merchant acquirer but , all of the UK acquirers and many throughout Europe too, including some of the giants like Worldpay. I touch upon Worldpay deliberately as Cardstream have been made aware that a lot of Worldpay customers may now find themselves without a payment gateway, due to the Worldpay split with Secure Trading.
Secure Trading’s ambitious move is not beneficial to all merchants who may now be faced with the possibility of not having a payment gateway. Cardstream are willing to foster your business by offering an alternative payment solution, where termination of your merchant account doesn’t mean you find yourself without a payment gateway. This has particular application to Worldpay merchants at this time; not just because Worldpay are one of Cardstream’s technical partners, but also because we see benefit in versatility to ensure that a payment solution is flexible. This means that should a Worldpay merchant approach Cardstream, we can support you. If a Credorax merchant approaches Cardstream, we can support you. If a Payvision merchant approaches Cardstream, we can support you. Our presence is international although our approach is intimate.
See our list of compatible acquirers below:
• Allied Wallet
• Allied Irish Bank
• American Express
• Bank of Scotland
• Borgun Clydesdale Bank & Yorkshire Bank
• The co-operative bank
• First Data
• Global Payments (HSBC)
• Cashflows (Voice Commerce Group)
• Worldpay (Streamline)
News and Prospects
It may or may not be knowledge that Worldpay are reducing the numbers of gateways they are partnering with, Cardstream remain a strong technical partner with Worldpay at this time. We even support functions with Worldpay such as our Real Time Updater. Our number of merchants that use a Worldpay and Cardstream solution is growing.
If you swiftly need a payment gateway service to partner with your Worldpay merchant account, all we need is your Merchant Account ID and two days.
Apple have released their new payment option, Apply Pay Contactless. This new payment option has essentially started a new era of payment methodologies from a pioneering electronics company. Apple has been working behind closed doors with MasterCard and Visa with a huge investment of man and thought power to bring Apple Pay Contactless to iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch users.
Let’s talk technology.
Biometrics and Security
Biometrics is a complex sounding term that is easy to define and even easier to understand but to get it right is a feat. Biometrics in this example is the practice of security by checking a part of the human body. With Apple Pay, it is a scan of your thumb or finger. Much like an electronic wallet, you can have multiple cards registered to one card. Apple Pay offers two options to set-up cards: take a picture of your card, or input your card details manually by entering the information into the app directly. This information can be removed or deleted at any time.
Apple Pay is inaccessible unless your device has a password or thumb-print recognition. So unless someone has access to your password or has stolen one of your thumbs, they do not have access to your Apple Pay. If your device gets stolen then you are able to clear it of this information remotely by using the ‘Find my iPhone’ feature so that your card details don’t fall into the wrong hands.
A further measure of security is one of the greatest and took a great investment of Apple’s time, working closely with companies like Visa and America Express. Apple Pay uses the technology idea of tokenisation (which you can read about here) and takes it one step further; the merchant never receives your card details. This is achieved by Apple Pay creating a token that gets sent instead of card information.
NFC is what the new contactless Apple Pay function uses to exchange information between two devices. NFC stand for Near Field Communication, it is present in a growing amount of electronics. Phones may use it to interact with one another and send information or media files between them. It has a wide application, but here it is used to interact from the Card Machine and the iPhone or Apple Watch.
This is the exciting part, how does one use this new service? Well, there are many ways to use Apple Pay, for example you can simply scan your watch at the Subway against the reader to be allowed through. Convenient! You can perform transactions with compatible devices without ever pulling your physical wallet out of your pocket. You instead pick your phone up and hold it above the device. The biometric scan of your thumb is done quickly beforehand. To do it with your Apple Watch, merely double press the button on the side and hold it to the device.
That’s literally it, payment made and goods ready to be escorted from the shop. Easy as APC (Apple Pay Contactless).
At Cardstream we are always looking for ways to upgrade our already pretty top-notch systems and increase our services and impressive list of benefits, yet keep the price for our service as the most competitive. Another of our recent updates to the MMS system is the ability to receive receipts for transactions, forwarded automatically to two potential destinations – one receipt for the customer and one receipt for the merchant. In keeping with all of our system rollouts, E-Mail Receipts is an additional feature to the service that comes at no extra cost, except perhaps a small time investment. Examples of the receipts can be found below:
The e-mail receipts contain all the information you would need should the transaction need to be addressed and are a proof of transactional success. It contains the information that was entered into the gateway or virtual terminal.
Need a Hand?
This service does need enabling on the MMS in order for it to become functional, which couldn’t be simpler. You simply login to your MMS service and scroll along to your preference tab; then you scroll down to “Merchant Notification Email”. In this field put your e-mail address. It is simple to put in another if you wish to have multiple recipients, all you have to do is put a comma and add the secondary email address. Or third. Why not go for four? Put as many in as you like or feel you need.
Just below that field is the “Customer Receipt” drop-down box. In order to make the MMS send an automated receipt to your valued customers, click the drop down box and highlight the “yes” option, click it. Done. You can run a test transaction to make sure everything’s in working order if you want to ensure it works.
Cardstream and its great support team are always able and willing to walk you through this (and indeed any) set-up process, so don’t be afraid to phone us or email us with a problem.
Finally, we took the liberty of producing a video containing an easy-to-follow guide for setting up e-mail receipts, it can be found here:
Receipts may sound like a formality, but they are in fact a great way of keeping on top of your incomings and outgoings. They take none of the space in your wallet up that a paper receipt would, they don’t degrade and can’t get lost so easily. The benefit is they look professional, people feel safer and they can be used for reference to quickly identify the transaction should a query arise sometime in the future. This offers payments with additional peace of mind, for both yourself and your customer.
Times are changing. The popular chant ‘Cash is King’ may now be being drowned out by the beep or squeak of a Card Machine, wallets are getting thinner. But not because people have less money…
It has emerged that the majority of transactions now are cashless. Since the first debit cards arrived into the market in the early 1970’s, cash began its descent in popularity. The convenience and security of debit and credit cards make them a popular choice. A BBC report emerged today that cash transactions have become the minority and cashless transactions have risen, the divide stands at 48% to 52%. The figures are staggering, especially considering the relative age of digital money in comparison to coinage. In 1990, debit cards were used in about 300 million transactions and in 2009, prepaid and debit cards were used in 37.6 billion transactions. A trend of growth that will not subside; it is predicted that cash transactions will decrease by a further 30% over the coming decade.
It should be noted however that cash transactions remain the majority in certain sectors. Nightclubs and newsagents are still dominated by cash transactions.
Key Interactive Voice Response systems (Key IVR), from a business point of view, are effective and reliable. The technology for these systems is ever evolving and ever developing. Companies can use them as an automated payment service or simply to refer them to the correct line to reach the relevant team. They’re not just the recipients of the call, they can be programmed to dial up customers automatically and process the needs of the conversation.
Are You Being Served?
An estimation from Gartner projects shows that, “By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human”. What does that tell us? It’s informing us that, love it or hate it, IVR is growing and becoming more sophisticated all the time. Within 5 years the vast majority of interactions with a business, from a consumer or customer perspective, will be managed telephonically. Of course it is inescapable that many people want to speak to an actual person about their miscellaneous troubles and there are always going to be scenarios that an automotive IVR system isn’t prepared for; so it’s important to have a human down the line for communication too. In fact the average IVR system supplies that option 4th selection in. Starting at the beginning, the infographic below displays an IVR’s average referral time to a human speaker.
It seems the majority subside after option three to speak to a human. Does this show a natural preference to speak to people as opposed to machines? Not necessarily because automation isn’t always necessarily the voice of a robot. In fact many companies choose to enlist professional actors in studios to perform the voice function of their automated equipment. 74% of people prefer listening to the voice of a women apparently because people want to hear a voice that sounds to care.
What Do We want?
IVR has something of a divide. It is suggested that 66 percent of people believe that self-service is generally more convenient. This preference is even higher—82 percent—amongst Gen Y (babies born in the 80’s to early 90’s) consumers. However despite this statistic that states people prefer self-service, IVR can still get a negative reception, “an overwhelming 70% of respondents ranked this as the top factor affecting their satisfaction level”. So where is the problem? Is the problem that IVR is undesirable or poorly implemented? On one hand we have people telling us they prefer to do things by themselves, contrarily we have people informing us that they prefer to not interact with other people when performing things such as, checking their bank balance.
Doing it well.
The truth is the implementation of the IVR is the issue. Many companies don’t facilitate it correctly. You find they don’t subside to a person easily enough. Or oppositely they can’t perform basic functions, like checking your mobile phone bill. Speculatively it seems that IVR, like an organ, is a powerful instrument, if in the hands of people who know what they want from it. IVR direction should come from the customer’s needs and not what the business thinks the customer’s needs are, this is why many businesses record customer telephone conversations. What they learn there, they can teach their systems and adapt accordingly. Poor implementation of IVR is not without consequence, it is estimated that 81 percent of those who had a hard time solving their problems reported an intention to spread negative word-of-mouth.
In favour of IVR are the practicalities that are oh so attractive and what these systems can realise for your business. They have the power to cut down on fees. You have one payment to set up the IVR in the beginning, then maintenance. They can do the job of many employees and they do so without the temperament or erroneous nature of the human. Not to mention an IVR is never out of office and probably isn’t going to ask you to call back at a later date, unless they were referring you to a person in the first place.
For further information, please visit the links below:
The unique position of Cardstream is owed to its adaptability, made possible because we are an independent payment gateway; this unique position, in turn, is owed to our reputable merchant acquirers, which – I am pleased to report – is a rapidly growing list! We boast no less than 18 acquiring partners to contact and choose a merchant account from. For any hopeful merchants out there, any one of those could provide the most suitable merchant account for your business and we’ve recently added some new acquirers into our repertoire!
Just what is a merchant acquirer?
A merchant account is where the money transitions into following a transaction from a customer. The funds go through us (Cardstream) and straight to your merchant account,. This process can take up to 3-5 working days. The person that facilitates this mandatory account is the party industrially referred to as a ‘Merchant Acquirer’ and it’s their job to ensure the smooth running of your account and facilitate otherwise unavailable debit or credit card payments.
Where do Cardstream fit in with these acquirers?
We have a relationship with them that can allow some flexibility with prices, also we find that having another party (ourselves) thrown into the mix allows for someone else to be a reference point should either party experience displeasure with the other. When in contact with an acquirer, it certainly helps to have that little bit of free advice and support that Cardstream offer. Below is a list of our current
Allied Wallet – New!
Allied Irish Bank
Bank of Scotland
Borgun – New!
Clydesdale Bank & Yorkshire Bank
The co-operative bank
Global Payments (HSBC)
Postbank – New!
Cashflows (Voice Commerce Group)
Wirecard – New!
If you have a merchant account with any of these acquirers and want to make the move to Cardstream then transferring to Cardstream is easy! We send you across an application form, you fill it in and we get you set up.
You don’t even need to change merchant acquirer, Cardstream will work with your current acquirer, saving you a lot of time and hassle.
More information can be discovered about the acquirers on the following URL:
And of course, as always, the Cardstream team are always happy to talk to you via phone or email if you need to know more, so feel free to call us on 0845 00 99 575 or e-mail us at solutions(at)cardstream(dot)com.