PayPal could heat up mobile payments race if McDonald's test pays off

By Alistair Barr

SAN FRANCISCO | Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:33pm EDT

(Reuters) – PayPal is in the early stages of what may be a blockbuster mobile payments deal with McDonald’s Corp, the world’s biggest hamburger chain.
McDonald’s is testing a mobile payments service featuring PayPal at 30 of its restaurants in France. Earlier this year, McDonald’s ran demonstrations of a broader PayPal mobile payments service at its franchisee conference in Orlando, Florida.
A McDonald’s spokeswoman confirmed the France tests and said the PayPal demonstration at its conference was part of a booth that features “technology coming within the next 24 months or so.”
PayPal is racing against start-up Square Inc and other technology companies to become the mobile payments service of choice as consumers increasingly use smart phones to make purchases in shops, restaurants and other retail locations.
Square struck what could be its most important partnership to date last week when it teamed up with Starbucks Corp, the world’s largest coffee chain.
PayPal, owned by eBay Inc, has signed up more than 15 retailers, including Home Depot and Office Depot, to accept PayPal payments in their stores.
But landing a partner the size of McDonald’s, with over 30,000 restaurants, would be a big win, according to analysts.
“McDonald’s would certainly be a whale,” said Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “If McDonald’s customers can stand in line and order on a mobile app and pay with PayPal that is a huge extension of PayPal’s reach.”
Square’s deal with Starbucks “creates a sense of urgency for PayPal,” he added. “This is a race.”
The test in France lets McDonald’s customers order food on smart phones through a McDonald’s mobile application, or online, and pay with PayPal. There is a separate line in the test locations to pick up the meals, according to a PayPal spokesman.
Demonstrations at the McDonald’s franchisee conference in Orlando featured a more “in-depth” service that would allow customers to order and pay using PayPal’s digital wallet and mobile application, the spokesman said.
Rolling out a service like this may help McDonald’s cut lines at restaurants, which is a key factor in maintaining and growing same-store sales, Luria said.
“If they can shave 10 seconds off wait times, same-store sales could go up a lot,” he added. “It’s substantial.”
(Reporting By Alistair Barr; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Rough road ahead for Singaporeans looking for a job

Updated 06:53 PM Aug 14, 2012

Most companies intend to freeze hiring: survey

SINGAPORE – A survey of 450 company executives on hiring trends for the second half of this year has found that the majority of respondents (66 per cent) intend to freeze hiring between now to December.
According to the survey done by recruiter and human resources consultancy Achieve Group, 32 per cent plan to hire more staff while 2 per cent plan to reduce headcounts.
Of the 148 companies that reported an intention to hire more staff in the second half of the year, 35 per cent plan to increase headcount by less than 5 per cent. A further 18 per cent said they would grow their staff strengths by up to 10 per cent while another 5 per cent are planning to boost headcounts by more than 10 per cent.
The rest declined to divulge specifics.
All the companies that would be increasing headcounts were also polled on the salary increment that they would offer new hires with respect to the candidates’ last drawn salary.
41 per cent of those surveyed said they would be offering increments of less than 5 per cent followed by 14 per cent of respondents who stated that they would offer increments of 5 per cent to 10 per cent.
Only 2 per cent of participants indicated increments of 10 per cent to 15 per cent.
None of the companies said they would offer new hires an increment of more than 15 per cent. The remaining 43 per cent declined to comment.
The report also surveyed companies on how the salaries of current staff are likely to be affected in light of the uncertain economic outlook, compared to the first half of this year.
The majority (58 per cent) of respondents indicated that there would be no change in staff salaries. 22 per cent of companies intend to increase staff salaries by up to 3 per cent while 18 per cent of those surveyed plan to hike wages by 3 per cent to 5 per cent.
Only 2 per cent of companies reported that they would be increasing staff salaries by more than 5 per cent.
A slight majority of 52 per cent of respondents reported that they are currently finding it tough to hire Singaporeans, with some claiming that Singaporeans are too choosy when it comes to the nature of work, working conditions and hours and workplace location.
23 per cent of respondents said Singaporeans are demanding too high salaries while 20 per cent of companies reported that they simply received no response to job advertisements. CHANNEL NEWSASIA


04:45 AM Aug 17, 2012
SINGAPORE – The number of applications to the Community Development Council (CDC) for social assistance increased by 5.6 per cent to 15,000 in the second quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year.
This was due to an increase in the qualifying income ceiling for interim financial assistance, from a household income of S$1,500 a month to S$1,700 a month and/or a maximum per-capita-income criterion of S$550 a month.
It resulted in a rise in interim financial assistance applications from 7,800 in the second quarter of last year to 10,100 in the same quarter this year.
The five career centres, in a joint release yesterday, noted that “a stronger inflation and, hence, higher cost of living could have contributed to some of the increase in the number of social assistance applications”.
Compared with the first quarter of this year, however, social assistance applications fell by 12.3 per cent as childcare and kindergarten-fee assistance applications decreased.
The CDC also helped place 3,300 job-seekers between April and June, a 14-per-cent increase compared with the first quarter of this year and a 23-per-cent increase on-year.
Yet, the CDC cautioned that hiring may slow down in the coming months as the global economic outlook remains uncertain.
In total, the centres registered about 7,400 applicants for training and/or employment assistance, a 9-per-cent increase from the first quarter of this year and a 7-per-cent fall on-year.
South-West District Mayor Amy Khor said the CDC will continue to run programmes to help low-income, low-skilled and older workers be more resilient during a recession “given the unsettling global economic outlook”.
South-East District Mayor Maliki Osman noted that residents’ needs “may not always be financial in nature” and that the CDC “strengthens and mobilises our community to address issues on the ground”.

Private home sales jump 42% in July

Prior to the upcoming Ghost Month, which is a traditionally quiet period in Singapore’s property market, private home sales have risen according to URA’s (Urban Redevelopment Authority) data for July.
1,943 new homes were sold last month, a 42 percent jump month-on-month (m/m) from the 1,371 seen in June.
Including executive condominiums (ECs), the sales volume climbed 20 percent m/m to reach 2,067 units.
Compared to the same period last year, July’s sales volume was up slightly by five percent.
The most popular project was Parc Centros in Punggol. 492 units were sold out of the 524 launched in July at a median price of S$924 psf.
Other projects that led the pack included Parc Olympia and V On Shenton which sold 204 and 144 units respectively.
[Source]: PropertyGuru – for the latest property news and opinions from Singapore and around Southeast Asia, visit PropertyGuru.
Singapore’s inflation is close to 6% affecting everything including property prices, we cannot afford a slowdown like in Japan that will crash the market, and we are all heading towards where Japan was like. Everything is getting unaffordable now, and the “50 year mortgage loan” is not a gimmick but a reality to ensure survival so that not all your paycheck goes to paying your monthly mortgage. The government can whitewash half truths, but they cannot bluff the market.
– Contributed by Oogle

Does the Singapore Government really cares about talent?

I refer to the recent reports on town councils wanting more money for their S&C charges, despite the fact that they have a healthy surplus. Also, when I read the side-by-side articles about our China-born table tennis players receiving $500,000.00 in terms of rewards, I start to really wonder, what is this Government doing?
I think, FIRST AND FOREMOST, the government has a duty of protecting the citizens from threats, including cost of living increases. We DO NOT need an olympic medal. Why are we so proud of winning a medal that is really not to our credit? By paying astronomical amounts of rewards to these foreign-born players, there’s absolutely nothing to be proud of.
Also, make no mistake about it, I can speculate that most of these $$ are outward flowing, ie, these players will move the money out to China and buy houses for their family overseas. Aren’t we fools really?
Instead of giving ridiculous amounts of money to these athletes, and then turning around and asking our citizens to accept price increases, I really challenge the government to prove me wrong by considering the following:
1) Reduce the rewards of a medal to match the market rates of the other countries (I remember China offers about US$30,000+ for a gold medal). These athletes should be grateful that they are now able to compete on the world platform because of Singapore (in China, the chance of competing at the highest level is really low, given the fact that there are too many people competing for the small number of spots), and stop treating them as if they are kings and queens of sports.
2) Enact rules that the current rewards are placed into an endowment fund that will only be released perhaps a decade from now. This can help improve the possibility of a foreigner really staying here for life.
3) STOP the town councils from raising S&C charges as proof to the citizens that the government cares. Till now, the government is still so arrogant to implement price increases after an election. Take the savings from point (1) and distribute it to the town councils.
4) HELP the citizens of Singapore by lowering rental costs to hawker centres. I do not understand why the government sought to profit at every turn. Why can’t they just relax some aspects of their profiteering mentality and lower the rental charges to at-cost levels? By doing that, they will drastically lower rentals and in turn put a downward pressure on hawker prices, which is an essential aspect of the cost of living of the ordinary folks.
To date, I hear comments about Singaporeans being stupid. I really wonder if the Government is helping to enforce that mentality by being fools to their very own foreign talent scheme, ie, paying ridiculous big bucks for 2 ordinary pieces of metal that most Singaporeans don’t care about.
And to PM Lee and team, show us that you REALLY care, instead of just empty words that have no real direct impact to the citizens.
Soul Rage
The Singapore Government does not care about talents but their salary which is linked to the GDP of Singapore, the highest in the world, and do they care about talents? Sorry no, they are just afraid of someone that comes along that is even smarter and richer than the Government of Singapore, and they will all be replaced like the FTs, I am the greatest inventor of all times, and I will be the richest man on earth, they will all be overthrown.
– Contributed by Oogle.

What is Keratosis Pilaris? It is hereditary and there is no cure

Tuesday, Aug 14, 2012
The New Paper

MARYLAND – Instead of hair follicles, Ms Shanyna Isom has fingernails growing out of her skin.
The woman has an unidentified illness which has baffled doctors and left her struggling to walk and perform daily chores.
Three years ago, Ms Isom suffered an allergic reaction which caused her illness, reported the Daily Mail.
The 28-year-old former University of Memphis law student has seen every possible specialist, including a doctor in the Netherlands, but still has no idea what her affliction is.
Ms Isom was in her first year at university, where she was studying criminal justice, when the mystery illness first flared up in September 2009, according to WLBT in Memphis, which first reported the story.
She had been prescribed steroids after suffering an asthma attack, and within hours, she was “itching” all over her body.
Her legs then turned black.
Doctors treated her for virtually every condition – from eczema to Staphylococcal infection – without success.
The disease has affected not only MsIsom’s skin, but also her bones and vision. Ms Isom cannot walk without a cane, and has to be helped out of bed daily.
Doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, where Ms Isom has been undergoing treatment since last year, realised that the scabs were actually human nails.
They told her family that she is the only person in the world with this condition, reported ABC News.
Her mother, Ms Kathy Gary, said: “Black scabs were coming out of her skin. The nails would grow so long and come out and regrow themselves. They are hard to touch.”
Ms Isom produces 12 times the normal number of skin cells per hair follicle, suffocating her skin. “Where hair grows, nails are growing,” MsIsom told WAFB news.

What is Keratosis Pilaris?
This condition is a disorder of the skin that is hereditary, and commonly found in people with very dry skin and/or a vitamin A deficiency. Some people can have this disorder and not know it. Not everyone that has it knows it because some people are just “carriers” if you will. The signs of the disorder are not evident in every carrier. Some people get lucky I guess!

Keratosis Pilaris is characterized by small red bumps (sometimes with white in them) that are raised on the skin like goose bumps. They are very similar looking to pimples, but they are not pimples. This is a common mistake among sufferers. Sometimes they will itch, but not usually. Here’s the main thing, the placement of the bumps. These bumps only appear in certain places. Most commonly they appear on the back of the upper arms, and the side and front of the upper thighs. It can also appear on the hips, buttocks and facial cheeks, but this is not common.

These bumps are very tiny, but annoying as ever. Not to be gross, but if you squeeze any of them, you are likely to see a hard, white substance come out of the bumps. This substance is thick and hard, and it is made of keratin protein that has gotten trapped in the hair follicles. The word “keratin” is the name for what hair, nails and the top layer of skin are made of. “Pilaris” means hair follicles. That’s where the name
Keratosis Pilaris comes from.
This condition can be very annoying, particularly for women because it poses an esteem issue. When it’s hot outside, women want to wear sleeveless shirts, shorts and bathing suits, but with this condition, we just want to cover up and hide from the world. It can be a big problem for a person’s self-esteem and it will make you very conscious of how you look. Usually this condition is not very noticeable to other people from a distance, but it can be very un-romantic when your husband or boyfriend decides to caress your lovely arms…ACK! So this is an important issue for women that have Keratosis Pilaris. I am sure there are men that are very self-conscious about it too.

What Causes Keratosis Pilaris?
As I mentioned above, this disorder is hereditary, so it is passed down from relatives like parents or grandparents. And it’s very possible you could pass it along to your children and/or grandchildren. It may not appear in any of them, or it could appear in all of them. This disorder is very strange in who it chooses to affect. I know I got this from someone in my family, but to my knowledge, no one else I know personally has this problem. So I have no idea who I got it from.

If you have this disorder, you have it for life. It will never go away or be cured, but you can treat it several different ways. There are things that can make the condition worse though. People with dry skin have a more difficult time treating the condition than those with oily skin. Also, the weather makes a difference; keratosis pilaris is worse in winter than in summer. Winter months are much drier so that makes the condition worse in most cases. Summer is usually a relief to sufferers as it brings humidity and will usually allow the condition to clear up more than usual.

How Do You Treat Keratosis Pilaris?
As I said, there is no cure, only treatments. Unfortunately the treatments my dermatologist offered me did not offer much help. After doing much reading and research on Keratosis Pilaris, I have found that most doctors will tell sufferers the same things. The most common treatment I have heard and read is to use a buff-puff or a loofah sponge, and then apply a lotion like Am Lactin or Lac Hydrin. I used these lotions and they did not work at all for me.

Usually when these do not work, doctors will prescribe a cream that has a high level of Retin-A in it. I used some of this and it did help, but not as much as I’d hoped. Even so, without insurance, this medicine can be outrageously expensive. I first used samples to see if it worked for me, and the tubes that I had were very small. So small that between applying to my arms and my legs, I could only get 2 applications out of one tube! This means I would need a tube a day. I took one of the tubes to my pharmacy and asked if the prescription tubes were larger or the same size as the sample tubes. The pharmacist said the prescription tubes were exactly the size of the sample tube. Then I warily asked him the price on one tube (which was one day’s worth of application for me and it’s to be used daily) and I almost fainted when he told me. One tube, one day’s application, was $40! Yes, you heard me right, $40! Well if I needed a tube a day, and it was to be applied every single day, there was no way I was buying this stuff. Especially if it only helped my problem…not solving it! So unless you have magnificent insurance, watch out for the Retin-A creams, they are very expensive.

After becoming very frustrated with the doctor’s recommendations and treatments, I decided to find a treatment of my own. I began to try different things here and there until I found one that has worked great for me. All people with Keratosis Pilaris may not find relief in the same treatments, but I’m going to tell you what worked for me. This has to be followed
exactly in order to see any results!
– First I use a thick loofah sponge or buff-puff on the affected areas. I do this daily and I only use Dove Nutrium Body Wash with my sponge. I have tried several moisturizing body washes, and this one has proven to be the best for me. It is a dual formula that contains a gentle cleanser and a moisturizing lotion at the same time. It works great. W
hen using the sponge, scrub as hard as you can on the affected area, and in a circular motion. Exfoliation is very important, especially since the affected areas are so dry. (Note: Dove has also recently come out with a Dove Nutrium Bar! So now I use both, and they are great. They make my skin so soft and silky, and the moisturizers are very good for the keratosis pilaris.)

– After I exfoliate with this body wash, I then apply an over the counter lotion that has worked wonders for my keratosis pilaris. Neutrogena makes this lotion and it’s called “Multi-Vitamin Acne Treatment”. I know what you are thinking; keratosis pilaris is not acne. No it’s not, but for some reason this stuff works. In my reading and research on the subject, I ran across a treatment that recommended using a moisturizer that contained a small amount of salicylic acid. This product contains both. It is full of vitamins and moisturizers that are great for your skin, and it also contains this salicylic acid. If you apply this lotion right after you have scrubbed with the Dove Nutrium, it will give you results within 2 or 3 days. It did for me!

– I also apply the Neutrogena Multi Vitamin Acne Treatment at night before going to bed. So I am applying it twice a day, once after showering and exfoliating, and once at bedtime.

– Adding a humidifier in your bedroom will also help to clear your skin. The moisture will hydrate your dry skin while you sleep at night and help in clearing up the keratosis pilaris.

– This next “treatment” is one I have found on my own and doctors do not recommend it. I am not telling anyone to do this, I am simply telling you what has worked in clearing up my skin condition. Tanning in the sun or in a tanning bed/salon. I like to tan anyway, so by trial and error I found that it cleared my skin. I started going to a tanning bed 2 or 3 times a week at first, and then dropped down to once a week. Each time I would tan for 12 to 15 minutes. That is not a lot of exposure, and it cleared my skin better than
ANYTHING else I have ever done. I still have occasional problems with my arms, but my legs cleared right up and those bumps have never returned to this day, and I have not tanned in over 6 months. So I am very pleased with these results.
Again, I am not recommending or condoning tanning or sunbathing, but I am telling you that it has helped to clear up my terrible case of Keratosis Pilaris.

Doing these things consistently has helped me tremendously, but if you miss a day, you pay! Consistency is the key.

Mobile wallets for NFC phones set to explode in Singapore

By Joy Fang – my paper
Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012

SINGAPORE – Mobile-wallet technology, which enables payments to be made using a mobile phone equipped with near-field-communication (NFC) capabilities, is generally safe and secure, industry experts said.
But, like other payment methods such as credit cards, the onus is on consumers to protect themselves, they added.
NFC – a short-range wireless-communication technology for transmitting data between a mobile device and a reader – is set to catch on here.
A consortium of companies – including DBS Bank and Citibank; M1, SingTel and StarHub; EZ-Link; and digital- security company Gemalto – announced on Aug 3 that the mobile wallet can be used at 30,000 retail points by the end of the month.
Consumers can pay for items such as meals and groceries just by tapping their phones against a reader. A phone with NFC capabilities, an NFC-enabled SIM card and a credit card are needed to do so.
Gemalto’s chief innovation and technology officer, Mr Tan Teck Lee, said consumers can install passcode protection for the mobile device, SIM card and NFC application, making the payment method “as secure as existing payment services”.
Experts say the daily limit of S$500 and cap of S$100 per transaction should minimise the impact of unauthorised transactions.
Even if you lose your phone, fear not. An Infocomm Development Authority spokesman said one can call the banks to report the loss, and they will disable the service.
An “over-the-air termination” of the payment applications on the NFC phone can also be carried out if it is still connected to the mobile operator’s network, he said.
A DBS spokesman said consumers will not be liable for transactions made after the loss of the phone or credit card has been reported.
A check with the telcos here showed that they will distribute only NFC mobile phones and SIM cards that meet standards specified by global payment- standards bodies.
An M1 spokesman said that, if an incorrect password is entered multiple times, the NFC-wallet service will be disabled and customers will have to contact M1’s customer services to re-activate it.
All information is stored and encrypted in a secure memory area on the NFC SIM card, as well as during over-the-air data transfers between the phone and reader, said Ms Yeong Mun-Ling, vice-president of business strategy at StarHub.
Upon activating the payment option in StarHub’s Smartwallet app, users must tap their device on a reader within 30 seconds, and the app will close if left idle for two minutes, she added.
Still, some have expressed reservations over the risk that such phones might pose in the event of theft or hacking.
Mr Stuart Fisher, managing director for Sophos Asia Pacific, said the digital wallet is “still in the infancy stage”. Hence, security issues concerning NFC technology “can be thorny” as the mobile-wallet ecosystem “irons out complexities surrounding data encryption, payment verification and security credentials”.
“Cybercriminals are likely to target this platform once there is a critical mass of users to profit from,” he warned.
Mr David Hall, Symantec’s Asia-Pacific regional consumer-product marketing manager, said he expects the service to be widely adopted.
“But we still have a lot of education to do with consumers…when it comes to smartphone security,” he said.
“People don’t realise that the smartphone is a PC in their pockets, and stores a lot of important information and Web passwords.”
Not only should you lock your phone, but measures such as enabling your phone to be “wiped clean” if stolen are also essential, he added.
Mr Fisher said consumers should not let their NFC-enabled phone out of their sight when making purchases, and should review bank statements carefully.
Do not place the phone in your back pocket, or cybercriminals using NFC-enabled devices may be able to skim data from the digital wallet upon close contact.
Convenience is the key to widespread adoption where later even services for payment kiosk like SAM and AXS for all government services will be added, the poor can even prepay to topup their PUB utilities bills and Internet services.
NFC payments are more secure, quicker, and more convenient for users. Two companies that could benefit in a big way from this movement are Dolby Laboratories (NYSE: DLB  ) and NXP Semiconductors (Nasdaq: NXPI  ) . NXP makes the chips used in NFC-enabled mobile devices while Dolby Labs’ subsidiary, Via Licensing, owns all NFC patents. This means big royalties anytime NFC technology is used in a mobile device.

– Contributed by Oogle.

There is scope of massive abuse of privacy on the Internet

Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Plans to increase the number of organisations that can look at records of what you do online could lead to widespread abuse of personal information, warn experts. The UK Government this week unveiled a draft list of organisations that will be given the right to request information about the web, telephone and fax lives of British citizens under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Civil liberty campaigners have little faith that government safeguards will be effective in policing the use of sensitive information passed to organisations not connected with law enforcement. Industry groups also warn that the technical and financial burden of complying with huge numbers of requests for information could cause problems for some firms.  
‘Massive abuse’ 
Before now under the RIP Act, only law enforcement organisations could ask for permission to look at logs of the sites people visit, who they are exchanging e-mail with and which telephone or fax numbers they call. Only police forces, intelligence services, Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue could ask communication service providers for logs of what their customers are doing. Now another 24 organisations, which include every local authority, are getting the power to request these logs. Ian Brown, director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research (Fipr), said many of the organisations being handed these powers had little or no experience of handling such confidential information. He told BBC News Online that this meant there was “massive scope for abuse” of personal information and would likely mean a huge increase in the number of requests. Before now law enforcement organisations wanting to look at communication information had to get permission from a judge. By contrast the RIP Act allows organisations that want to look at this data to get permission from their own senior managers. The government is currently drawing up rules dictating how organisations should treat this sensitive communication information. “But,” said Mr Brown, “how seriously in practice they will follow these guidelines we do not know. “Just what experience the Department for the Environment or the Office of Fair Trading would bring to this is another question.” Mr Brown also doubted that the government’s own watchdog, called the Interception Commissioner, would be able to police requests for the use of information about someone’s communication habits. “The Interception Commissioner has been under-resourced for what they are supposed to do at the moment,” said Mr Brown. “How they are supposed to oversee the use of these powers by these 20 plus government bodies is beyond me.” The Internet Service Providers Association also has worries about the extension of RIP Act powers to more organisations. “It all amounts to high costs for the industry in terms of time and money,” said an ISPA spokesman. He said ISPA was still waiting to hear from the government about financial help for members that have to collect, store and pass on data about customers. 
Agencies that collect massive amounts of data thru cookies, clicks and websites you visit including codings that is built into videos you watch, Internet gaint like Google, Facebook, Yahoo could monitor your activities and secretly target a campaign to promote a cause, even your ISP has tons of data of everything you do, I could easily influence decision making by programming my cause to everyone eg I can easily influence a campaign to program everyone to vote for Obama without anybody’s knowledge, that is the secrets of possible abuse of privacy on the Internet, there should be standard code of practice how everyone handles your data.
– Contributed by Oogle.