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Big Data and Intuition: The future of Marketing


Technology isn’t only getting faster, it’s getting smarter. Computers are able to recognize and learn from patterns and make changes in real-time. Their improved analytic and decision-making abilities now allow them to outperform humans in areas such as medical diagnosis and customized marketing campaigns.

However, it’s hard for marketers to embrace data analysis when they’ve trusted their own gut to fuel decisions for so long. It’s a point of pride for many.  The problem is, the strategy frequently fails. A 20 year study of political pundits found that they were only as accurate as a coin toss, suggesting that successful “intuitive” decisions are often a lucky guess.

On the other hand, a McKinsey study found that companies who put data at the center of marketing and sales decisions improve marketing ROI by 15% – 20%. Data-driven personalization, in particular, can lift sales 10% or more. For example, Bank of America…

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Microsoft embraces bitcoin payments for digital purchases


You can’t buy a Windows Phone with bitcoin, but now you can buy Minecraft for that phone with bitcoin. Microsoft announced today that it will now accept bitcoin (via BitPay) as a payment method for digital purchases, like Xbox games or Windows Phone apps. It’s limited right now to items that can only be purchased through your Microsoft Account and only for U.S. customers — a pretty common move for companies who are testing the cryptocurrency waters.

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Square hits $100M in sales in a single day


On Friday Square has had its first $100 million sales day, the company revealed today. The milestone comes just a month after CEO and founder Jack Dorsey revealed Square had handled its 1 billionth credit card purchase. Square has now processed a transaction on one of ever four active credit cards in the U.S., and according to the San Francisco companies own figures, if you were to look at its merchants as a collective, Square would be the 13th largest retailer in the U.S. right behind Best Buy.

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Payments processor Klarna to spend at least $100M on US push


The Swedish online payments processor Klarna is pushing into the U.S., and it said late Wednesday that it intends to spend at least $100 million doing so.

[company]Klarna[/company] Checkout is a competitor to the likes of [company]PayPal[/company] and [company]Stripe[/company], providing another way for online merchants to take payments. The service makes an algorithmic risk assessment of the customer, based on their behavior and credit scores – the less risky the customer, the less information they need to give to make the payment.

This low-friction approach to the buy-now-pay-later game is particularly handy in the mobile payments arena, where the less you neeed to type the better.

The Sequoia-backed firm, which is almost a decade old, is the largest payments processor in Europe, and it has been talking about its U.S. move for a couple of months. Now, it has said how much it’s willing to invest in this push…

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Jack Dorsey says Square will begin accepting Apple Pay in 2015


Square founder and CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed to CNN on Friday that Square will begin supporting Apple Pay and other near-field communications (NFC)-based payments systems in some form in 2015. In September, Dorsey had told Canada’s CBC that Square would not only support NFC payments but bitcoin as well.

Whether that means Square will issue a new Reader or an accessory that plugs into Square Stand (or both) supporting NFC transactions, Dorsey didn’t say. None of the company’s current or already-announced forthcoming hardware can process an NFC transaction, though Square is moving to more secure embedded-chip card processing next year, along with the rest of the point-of-sale retail industry.

A partnership between [company]Apple[/company] and Square shouldn’t come as a surprise. For some reason, many media outlets have been depicting Square and Apple at odds with one another as Apple Pay rolls out. While Square and Apple might compete in…

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Square starts offering gift cards (the plastic kind)


As virtual wallets and NFC payments start taking off, Square hasn’t given up on the plastic card. In fact, it’s doubling down on its commitment to acetate and magnetic stripes, announcing a new program on Tuesday in which its merchants can issue their own gift cards.

Square has supported stored-value cards before, but those were virtual cards, requiring the now-defunct Square Wallet (or a bar code print-out) to redeem them. Meanwhile, these newest gift cards work just like the ones you’d buy from Target or Best Buy. Merchants can order them from their Square dashboards, customizing their appearance with their own logos and design. When a customer purchases a card, the value is deposited directly into the merchant’s account.

While Square isn’t charging its normal 2.75 percent transaction fee on any gift card transaction, activating a card costs $1.50 a pop, so it’s probably not worth your while to…

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Skeptic says bitcoin will “always be currency of the future”


Remember when bitcoin was going to disrupt the world’s banking system? That was two years ago and, while new payment platforms like Venmo and Apple Pay have gained traction, virtual currencies now feel more like a fad than a phenomenon.

At least that’s the view of Felix Salmon, a financial blogger and early bitcoin skeptic, who did his best to dump cold water on a room of alt-currency enthusiasts gathered Monday at a Bloomberg event titled “Bitcoin: Beyond the Currency” in New York City.

Bloomberg bitcoin

“This is pure Silicon Valley utopianism,” said Salmon, suggesting that bitcoin backers are blinded by “solutionism” and adding that investors who embrace the currency are no more rational than goldbugs.

Salmon also pointed out that, as a five-year-old technology, bitcoin has grown long in the tooth even as it fails to make inroads among ordinary consumers.

“I don’t think it’s going to zero [dollars], but it will always…

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