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  1. Black Friday and Cyber Monday – Savings, Stores and Statistics

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    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 [1] 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 [2], 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 [3]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.

    En Router

    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[4] 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 [5]. 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

    Cyber Monday is the Monday immediately after the Black Friday. It came about when 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.

    -1Days -7Hours -36Minutes -29Seconds

    1. British consumers spent £810m
    2. Guardian and 2014 Black Friday
    3. REI Black Friday
    4. High Internet Traffic
    5. Google Search Triples
    6. Cyber Monday Begins
    7. How much?!

  2. Unassigned Worldpay Merchants

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    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.

    Where Now?

    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
    • Barclaycard
    • Borgun Clydesdale Bank & Yorkshire Bank
    • Credorax
    • The co-operative bank
    • Elavon
    • First Data
    • Global Payments (HSBC)
    • Payvision
    • Postbank
    • Cashflows (Voice Commerce Group)
    • Wirecard
    • 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.

    Click this link to get started:

  3. Apple Pay

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    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.

    In Practice

    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).


  4. E-mail Receipts

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    Our Goals
    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:

    customer receipt 1 customer receipt 2

    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:

    But Why Might I Want This?
    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.

  5. From Cash to Card

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    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.

    For further reading, visit the links below:

    Market Place
    Market Place

  6. Key IVR

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    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:

    Software Advice

    Smart Customer Service


  7. New Acquirers

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    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
    • American Express
    • Bank of Scotland
    • Barclaycard
    • Borgun – New!
    • Clydesdale Bank & Yorkshire Bank
    • Credorax
    • The co-operative bank
    • Elavon
    • First Data
    • Global Payments (HSBC)
    • Payvision– New!
    • Postbank – New!
    • Cashflows (Voice Commerce Group)
    • Wirecard – New!
    • Worldpay (Streamline)

    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:

    Click Here

    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.

  8. The Importance of Being Responsive

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    Convenience is the ultimate business niche, to say ‘we can tailor to your personal needs’ is what everyone wants to hear; so when we login to a website to buy our beloved mothers a gift or two for Mothering Sunday: we want to ensure that we can see the jewellery, chocolates or flowers clearly. We also want to make sure there’s no awkward pinching and scrolling so we can see the price, product and review on our portable devices without too much hassle. We call an adaptable website capable doing this responsive.

    True Story

    So I have my smartphone, my tablet and my laptop. I’m out and about, I want to buy some roses. I don’t want to use my laptop and my tablet is cumbersome. I want to use my smartphone. But! The website is not compatible with mobiles, the screen doesn’t fit and the interface is frustrating; to cut a long story short, I’m going to a different website and this business lost my custom.

    A worrying statistic for non-compatible websites say that customers are five times more likely to neglect an attempted transaction they’re trying if the site isn’t responsive to mobile devices and are 79% are more likely to attempt a different site from the search engine’s results. One site reports an ideal mobile responsive site (according to customers) has the following aspects: the page loads in 5 seconds or less; large and colourful buttons; limited scrolling and pinching; speedy access to the ‘contact us’ section; quick ability to phone customer service and the ability to locate staff member’s social media profiles.

    This is how we do it.

    Cardstream’s Payment Gateway is completely responsive, the screenshot we have here is the exact same webpage one would visit on any other device, and it merely re-formats itself according to the size of the devices screen and displays the interface in the most accommodating manner possible. The possible problem with producing (for example) a mobile website
    and a desktop website, is you have double the amount of maintenance to perform and great care must be taken to ensure consistency and symmetry between the two website’s information. Responsive websites are a great way to keep things tidy, consistent (which reflects well on the business) and flexible in application; with your transactions, if you don’t use it- you could lose it!responsive phone

    Click to view a bigger image

    As always, for further reading, please visit these links:

  9. The Future of mCommerce

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    Finding the right goods for your home, garden or even place of work can be daunting these days with the wide variety of products available to consumers and walking from shop to shop can be tiring, but with the increasing popularity of mCommerce, shopping for your brand new sofa, lawn ornament or desk lamp is as easy as ever.

    What is mCommerce?

    Coined by Kevin Duffey in 1997, mCommerce is the idea of delivering eCommerce into a consumer’s hand wherever they are via a wireless connection. Whilst the idea was discussed almost 10 years ago, new technologies such as 4G and wi-fi hotspots are making the idea a reality. It’s estimated that by 2018, 50% of eCommerce transactions will actually be mCommerce.

    There’s An App For That

    With over 1 million apps available for Apple’s ‘App Store’ alone and with android not falling far behind, there’s a wealth of stores and products available to consumers’ fingertips. With 93% of all British people now claiming to own a mobile phone and with 57% of American mobile phone users, it’s easy to see how the trend of mCommerce is growing in popularity. Downloading or ordering the latest book, song or film is as simple as pressing a button.

    Surprisingly, Japan was one of the early adopters of mCommerce managing 10 billion products ordered on a mobile in 2009 compared to America’s 1.9 billion. Since then, however, America has embraced the idea with Apple reporting that the average Christmas gift ordered on an iPhone in 2014 was $97.28.

    mCommerce is predicted to become a $325 billion industry across the world by 2015, so making sure that your products can be accessed by a mobile phone, either through your website or via a free app, is becoming increasingly important. With the possibility of lost or stolen phones, it’s equally as important to ensure that your store can process payments safely and securely.

    For sources and further reading, please visit the links below:

  10. Predicted Statistics 2015

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    The hardest part of any year is arguably fraught with anxiety mostly at the beginning, so with some New Year’s cheer, foresight and positivity we can tackle it. With foresight in mind; E-Commerce seems to be as trendy and developmental as ever. A stunning figure of $24 trillion in Global retails sales (that’s $24 with 12 zeroes on the end for emphasis) is predicted to be hit in 2015. With last year’s prediction being $22 trillion according to our recent 2014 blog, that’s an increment of $2 trillion for the year, 10% in fact.

    In Britain and the UK, E-Commerce as a trading industry creates a profit margin of £700 million every single week and although we can’t soon hope to eclipse the High Street in terms of production and product output, it seems advertising has become more ubiquitous online as the UK is forecast to become the first country to spend more on online advertising than advertising anywhere else.

    In terms of growth, E-Commerce has a steady increase of 30% a year, every year, making it the largest growing part of the retail industry itself, according to a study taken by the Democratization of E-Commerce Report, which enlisted the research of over 55,000 clients. It appears the countdown to New Year, is indeed a count up to E-Commerce success.

    For further reading, visit the links below:

    Retail Sales Set To Reach 24 Trillion 2015

    The UK Is Obsessed With E-Commerce

    E-Commerce Will Hit 2 Trillion In Sales In 2015