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Samsung Buying Mobile-Pay Co. in Bid to Challenge Apple Pay 

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This product image provided by LoopPay shows the LoopPay card, front, and the LoopPay app for Android. Samsung is buying mobile-payment startup LoopPay as the Korean phone maker steps up its rivalry with Apple and its payment system on iPhones. (AP Photo/LoopPay)

This product image provided by LoopPay shows the LoopPay card, front, and the LoopPay app for Android. Samsung is buying mobile-payment startup LoopPay as the Korean phone maker steps up its rivalry with Apple and its payment system on iPhones. (AP Photo/LoopPay)

ANICK JESDANUN, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung is buying mobile-payment startup LoopPay as the Korean phone maker steps up to challenge Apple and its payment system on iPhones.

The deal strengthens speculation that Samsung Electronics Co. plans to include mobile-payment technology in its next major phone, which is expected to be announced March 1 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Launched a year ago, LoopPay works by reproducing the signals from a credit card’s magnetic swipe as users tap a LoopPay device next to a retailer’s card reader. That means LoopPay should work with most retailers’ existing payment terminals.

Most other mobile-payment systems, including Apple Inc.’s Apple Pay, require newer terminals with wireless chips called near-field communication, or NFC. That limits the number of retailers that can accept such payments.

But LoopPay has had trouble with some older readers; restaurants and bars often couldn’t process LoopPay transactions due to a variety of hardware and software issues. It also doesn’t work with transit fares, parking meters and other machines that require the customer to fully insert a card, like a bank ATM.

Plus, it’s not clear what will happen when merchants hit an October deadline for accepting cards with stronger security known as EMV, as LoopPay offers only the basic magnetic signals. NFC and Apple Pay equipment is newer and enabled for EMV. LoopPay is more of a retrofit — for a system being phased out.

Nonetheless, Samsung sees enough potential to buy the company. LoopPay estimates that its system works with 90 percent of merchants. Although there are more than 200,000 payment terminals in the U.S. that can accept NFC, that’s out of several million.

“Our goal has always been to build the smartest, most secure, user-friendly mobile wallet experience, and we are delighted to welcome LoopPay to take us closer to this goal,” said JK Shin, head of Samsung’s mobile division.

David Eun, executive vice president at Samsung’s Global Innovation Center, said the deal will help Samsung “significantly accelerate our mobile commerce efforts.”

The companies didn’t disclose financial terms or say when the transaction will close. LoopPay will continue to operate in Boston as a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung.

So far, LoopPay has been available as accessories for iPhones and Android devices. Ownership by Samsung raises the prospect of shipping phones with LoopPay built in, a move that would expand the service’s reach. The companies didn’t say whether they will continue making the LoopPay accessories for non-Samsung devices.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Business

Cal AG Rob Bonta Hits Google with Lawsuit Over “Play Store”

“Google has violated the trust of Android phone customers by limiting consumer choice and raking in outrageous commissions on app developers. Android customers are effectively stuck using the Google Play Store for apps, where they pay a premium,” said Bonta on July 7.

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Phone with Google apps courtesy Pathum Danthanarayana via Unsplash

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the California Department of Justice (DOJ) is joining a multistate lawsuit against Google.

In the claim, California joins 35 other states and the District of Columbia in accusing the Mountain View-based company of violating national and state laws (the federal Sherman Antitrust Act and California’s Cartwright Act) with its Google Play Store’s monopolization of the smartphone app market.

“Google has violated the trust of Android phone customers by limiting consumer choice and raking in outrageous commissions on app developers. Android customers are effectively stuck using the Google Play Store for apps, where they pay a premium,” said Bonta on July 7.

Calling Google’s dominance of the Android-app market “anti-competitive,” Bonta pointed out that customers are impacted the most by Google’s actions.

“A more competitive app marketplace could open innovation, leading to more choice, better payment processing, improved customer service, and enhanced data security,” he added.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco, is the second multi-state lawsuit California has joined against the tech giant. Last year, Cal DOJ joined another U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit claiming Google stifles its competition by signing exclusionary agreements with smartphone manufacturers to dominate their operating systems, blocking out its search engine and other app competitors.

“In the absence of Google’s anticompetitive conduct, there would be two main channels for consumers to obtain apps on an open Android operating system: (i) direct downloading and installation of apps or app stores; and (ii) apps or app stores pre-installed on devices by device manufacturers and/or mobile network operators,” reads the 144-page complaint in which phrases with sensitive information have been redacted.

“But Google has closed off its purportedly ‘open’ Android operating system from competition in app distribution,” it continues. “To accomplish this, Google degraded direct distribution channels, and then cut deals to discourage and disincentivize any remaining potential competition.”

Responding to the states’ legal action, Google’s senior director of government affairs and policy Wilson White wrote in a blog post that the suit isn’t about fairness. Instead, in his view, it’s about a “handful” of developers who want access to the benefits of Google’s app store without paying for it.

“The complaint limits its definition of app marketplace to Android devices only. This completely ignores the competition we face from other platforms such as Apple’s incredibly successful app store, which accounts for the majority of mobile app store revenues, according to third party estimates,” White wrote.

White insists Google allows both developers and consumers to have options.

“Device makers and carriers can preload competing app stores alongside Google Play on their devices,” he said. “In fact, most android devices ship with two or more app stores preloaded. And popular Android devices such as the Amazon Fire tablet come preloaded with a competitive app store and no Google Play Store.”

Technically, Bonta says, consumers do have the option to install app stores they choose or to buy apps directly from developers. But he says Google discourages this “type of sideloading through a convoluted process that forces users to click through often-misleading security warnings and multiple permission screens.”

“This burdensome series of red flags leaves consumers with the impression that alternative app stores are inferior at best and high risk at worst. Over 90 % of all Android app distribution in the United States is done through Google’s Play Store,” said the Cal DOJ in a press release.

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Bay Area

BART to Install Free WiFi at All Stations By 2024

BART plans to leverage its existing partnerships with telecommunications companies like Verizon and AT&T to enhance wireless service throughout the system as well as in other local transit agencies like the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

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A BART train arrives at the Pleasant Hill BART station in Walnut Creek, Calif. on Monday, February 1, 2021. (Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News Foundation)

All BART stations are on track to have WiFi networks installed by 2024, officials with the transit agency said on June 24.
Providing wireless internet service in all BART stations and on the agency’s new fleet of trains is part of the agency’s Digital Railway program, which is intended to modernize the BART system by making it easier for riders to make calls, text and use the internet.
BART plans to leverage its existing partnerships with telecommunications companies like Verizon and AT&T to enhance wireless service throughout the system as well as in other local transit agencies like the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
“We want to keep pace with modern technology and make sure that people can use the devices that they love and enjoy,” said Travis Engstrom, BART’s director of technology, to the BART Board of Directors on Thursday.
The board originally approved the Digital Railway program in January 2020.
One pandemic and 18 months later, Engstrom said on June 24 that the agency plans to launch the first of the Digital Railway’s four parts, which includes installing wireless phone service in Muni’s underground, by the middle of next year.
“This service will make sure that riders that normally, today, have long periods of no connectivity on those trains, they’ll be able to have cellular service in the underground,” he said.
For BART, its first segment of the Digital Railway program includes beginning installation of wireless internet service in late 2022 in the downtown San Francisco BART stations, with the goal of having all stations complete by 2024.
In addition, the agency also plans to install wireless service-boosting poles along its train routes by 2025 that will enable riders to utilize BART’s WiFi network on any route.
BART also plans to install new fiber optic cable within the system by 2023 to boost cellular service and speed even higher.
It will take roughly four weeks per station to install in-station WiFi throughout the system, Engstrom said, adding that the service will be free and will not include internet speed tiers unless the BART board approves them.
“I’d be really careful about having any kind of tiered service,” Janice Li, a BART board director. “I want to make sure that this is a benefit that all of our riders can access as equally as possible.”

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Bay Area

Richmond, CA Launches First Bikeshare Program

New, robust, e-bike fleet will expand access and transportation options for residents, the underserved,
commuters, and visitors.

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Photo Courtesy of BOLT Microbility

(Richmond, CA, June 16, 2021) – The City of Richmond, California, is teaming up with Bolt Mobility (Bolt) to launch the city’s first bikeshare program, with an all electric-assist fleet of e-bikes. Starting this week, 250 e-bikes will begin coming online, and continue over the course of the summer, integrating with and enhancing the local transportation system.

“Richmond is perhaps the best city in the Bay Area to get around on a bike. We have more San Francisco Bay Trail than any other city in the Bay Area. Our commitment to health and mobility has led to the development of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge bicycle and pedestrian path, Richmond Greenway, Richmond Wellness Trail, Yellow Brick Road, and more,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. “I look forward to residents riding Bolt’s e-bikes to the Ferry Terminal to get to San Francisco, to the Richmond Transit Center to catch a train, or to one of the many community assets that will now be just a short bike ride away.”

The e-bikes are similar to standard bicycles, but with an electric motor that provides a subtle boost, helping riders increase distances with less effort (and sweat). The e-bikes are comfortable, ergonomic, and include a spacious basket for errands and a cable lock for security. Riders can access and return the e-bikes at conveniently located transportation hubs, which are designed to prevent e-bikes from cluttering streets. Hub locations at the ferry terminal and BART stations conveniently extend the transit system from home to office, helping reduce commute times.

Payment plans are available, as are options for people who do not have access to credit or debit cards. Through sponsorship from 511 Contra Costa, the unlock fee for the pay-as-you-go plan will be waived for up to five rides to encourage new riders to try the program. In addition, the Bolt Forward program offers reduced rates to qualified individuals on government assistance. Bolt will also provide free helmets to riders, upon request. Other safety features include pedal-assisted acceleration, rather than a throttle, and a speed cap of 15 mph while on the Bay Trail.

Riders will be required to download the new “Gotcha Powered by Bolt” app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Playstore. The app is integrated with the MTC Clipper Card system, so users without a smartphone can still access the e-bikes.

“Richmond is building for the future,” said Bolt CEO Ignacio Tzoumas. “Through this partnership, we can leverage Bolt’s technology to help reduce pollution, improve congestion, provide transportation to the underserved, and shorten commute times.” The program is made possible in part by a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bike Share Capital Grant program, aimed at expanding bicycle access and facilitating bicycle transportation in connection with transit. MTC manages the Clipper transit-fare payment system in partnership with Bay Area transit agencies.

About BOLT Micromobility

BOLT Mobility is a transformational personal transportation company committed to ensuring access, equity, and quality of life through micromobility. Co-founded by eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt, BOLT Mobility is revolutionizing the way people move and experience their communities and travel to and from employment. Through partnerships with municipalities, universities, and local ownership, we are advancing smarter infrastructure and thoughtfully integrating sustainable and accessible transportation options into the neighborhoods we serve, helping communities thrive. Learn more at MicroMobility.com.

City of Richmond Media Contacts
Denée Evans, Project Manager
(510) 621-1718
www.ci.richmond.ca.us/4018/Bike-Share

Christopher Whitmore, Chief of Staff, Office of Mayor Tom Butt
(510) 620-6527
christopher_whitmore@ci.richmond.ca.us

Bolt Media Contact
Dan Kaplan, Laurel Strategies
202-776-7776
press@MicroMobility.com

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