No more accidental subscriptions
There are many things in our daily lives that cause frustration. One that really sticks for a lot of us is forgetting to cancel a subscription. How many times have you ended up with a load of products that you didn’t want because you signed up for something free?
But fear not! This month, Joshua Browder launched a new app in the UK that saves us from having to suffer through this ever again. His new app, ‘Free Trial Surfing’ allocates users with an invented name and a virtual credit card number. They can then use this to sign up for subscription services.
When asked if service providers will be able to find a way around it, he said that the bank involved (who he’s refused to name) is “so big they would have to screw a lot of customers” in order to pick-out the ‘Do Not Pay’ cards.
Unfortunately for all of us android users, it’s currently only available on Apple's app store. However, a web version is said to be in development.
Google seeks permission to listen to user audio
Here's one you won't here often; Google has began to seek permission to do something.
It won’t come as a surprise to anyone to learn that companies like Google, Apple and Amazon can listen to users through their devices. This came to light in April, from a Bloomberg Report. All the companies mentioned had employees listening and transcribing audio recordings made via smart speakers and virtual assistant apps.
Now Google has decided to put their ethical foot forward. Their ‘human reviewers’ will listen in to users’ virtual assistant audio recordings only if users give it fresh permission to do so. Much better.
They’ve stated that only 1/500 of the snippets would be subject to the human checks. Apparently, this lets them label words and phrases to help improve the accuracy of their voice-recognition software.
Amazon Alexa gains an All Blacks skill for the World Cup
New Zealand Rugby aren’t only looking to lead the way in this year’s Rugby World Cup, but also in the world of digital technologies.
The ‘Voice Experience’ gives fans behind-the-scenes access to various areas of the All Blacks’ camp. This includes game previews and recaps, as well as access to the renowned ‘Haka’ war dance.
Kath Blackham, the CEO of Versa who is working with Amazon to develop the system said “this VX will leverages the possibilities of AI and voice technology to connect brands and fans in more meaningful ways”.
Probably best the England team didn’t get wind of this for the football world cup. There’s only so many times you can listen to the Three Lions….
The system will be launching in New Zealand, Australia, USA, UK and Canada.
UK becoming a ‘cashless’ nation
This month it was reported that only 20% of UK spending is done with cold, hard cash in today’s market. This is the first time cash has dropped below credit cards, which account for 21.5% of purchases.
Perhaps surprisingly, debit card usage only just took over cash use in 2016. Now it accounts for 57% of purchases made. This could've potentially been in conjunction with the rise of the UK eccomerce market, doubling from £66.53bn in 2012, to £118.82bn in 2016.
Retailers may not be so happy to hear this news. Not only because there’ll be less opportunity to ‘make it rain’, but due to each card transaction on average costing them 6p. This has led to calls for a reduction in card and transaction fees across the board. Retailers paid £1.3bn to third-party firms in 2018 just to accept card payments from customers. This is £70m more than they paid in 2017.
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