benson

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Pinterest Acquires Machine Learning Commerce Recommendation Engine Kosei

Facebook knows who you were. Google knows what you want now. But Pinterest yearns to know what you want next, which is “exactly” why it acquired recommendation engine startup Kosei, Pinterest’s head of engineering Michael Lopp tells me.<p>For an undisclosed figure, Pinterest gets Kosei’s tech that …

Memo Brings Anonymous Group Sharing To The Enterprise

Over the last year, we’ve seen a bunch of anonymous (or anonymish) apps crop up on mobile phones, allowing users to share messages with people nearby or those in their social circles. To date, though, most of those apps have been focused on the consumer market.<p>A new app called Memo hopes to capture …

Google Is In Talks With Mobile Payments Company Softcard

Apple has Apple Pay, and now it looks like Google may be fattening up its own wallet. According to people familiar with the situation, the search giant and maker of Android is interested in buying Softcard, the mobile payments company formerly known as Isis.<p>The price may be under $100 million, …

True Fit Raises $15M To Give Apparel Shoppers Confidence Online

True Fit, a Massachusetts-based startup that helps apparel shoppers online by comparing fit data from brands with the items in the closet, has passed 5 million users with profiles on their service and raised $15 million for further expansion.<p>The startup’s Discovery Engine compares fit data sourced …

Walmart’s New Site Allows Consumers To Exchange Unwanted Gift Cards For Walmart e-Cards

Walmart has teamed up with the gift card exchange website CardCash to launch a new Walmart-branded site where consumers can exchange their unwanted gift cards – many of which were likely received over the holidays – for a Walmart card instead. The site went live on Christmas day and is offering up …

UPDATE: Why Retailers Must (But Won’t) Succeed In Introducing Mobile Payment Systems

<b>Editor’s note:</b> <i>Catherine Tucker</i> <i>is a marketing professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.</i><p>In the digital age, it’s critical for retailers to collect and manage customer data. This information is the key to providing personalization for any kind of shopping experience, as it allows retailers to …

Shyp Partners With Banana Republic To Help Procrastinating Shoppers

On-demand shipping startup Shyp is partnering with Banana Republic to help last-minute shoppers get presents to family and friends without needing to attach one of those awkward semi-apology notes to the package.<p>Between December 17-22, Banana Republic shoppers at 19 locations in cities served by …

Yelp Buys Restaurant-Kritik To Expand Its Presence In Germany

Yelp has boosted its presence in Europe after announcing the acquisition of Restaurant-Kritik, a restaurant review service in Germany. Restaurant-Kritik claims to have over 330,000 reviews of more than 94,000 restaurants across Germany.<p>The US firm has not revealed how much it paid for the …

Restaurant Reservation Service Reserve Launches In San Francisco

Reserve, a mobile app that makes it easy to find reservations at top restaurants, announced today that it’s now available in San Francisco.<p>The service, which launched in October, came out of Expa, the “startup studio” created by Uber and StumbleUpon co-founder Garrett Camp. CEO Greg Hong said that …

Amazon Rewards Visa Cards Now Compatible With Apple Pay

Amazon said it would be making its Rewards Visa from Chase compatible with the new Apple Pay system earlier this week, and the integration is already out the door. Amazon had said it would support it sometime, though they didn’t specify an exact timeline, so seeing it roll out this quickly is …

First Look At 3D Camera App 3DAround

What if you could shoot those cool 360-degree, swivel-around photos you see on ecommerce sites or in The Matrix with just your smartphone? Then you’d be using the 3DAround camera app that launches next month from Dacuda, which gave TechCrunch an early peek. Simply hit record, revolve your camera …

CurrentC Is The Big Retailers’ Clunky Attempt To Kill Apple Pay And Credit Card Fees

Long before Apple Pay, big brick-and-mortar retail chains were conspiring to sidestep the typical 2% to 3% fees they’re charged by credit card companies when consumers pay with credit. A company called MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange), spearheaded by Walmart, was started to build a mobile payment …

Groupon Goes After Yelp And Google With Millions Of Individual Business Pages

Groupon today took one more step ahead in its bid to be a simple daily deals site, and more of a general go-to place for local businesses and all of their e-commerce efforts: it has launched a new format and online presence called Pages. This is an online directory that will give businesses their …

Vint Launches A Monthly Subscription Service Offering Unlimited On-Demand Fitness Training

Two months after bringing its fitness marketplace to San Francisco, Vint is introducing a new way for users to set up 1-on-1 or group workout sessions with trainers in the form of a $120 monthly subscription that lets you arrange as many meetups as you’d like.<p>The subscription service, known as Vint …

Glamsquad Raises $7 Million For On-Demand Hair Styling And Beauty Services

New York-based Glamsquad, an on-demand beauty business now headed by Gilt Groupe co-founder Alexandra Wilkis Wilson who joined earlier this year as co-founder and CEO, has now raised $7 million in Series A funding in a round led by SoftBank Capital. The company launched in January of this year in …

Etsy Moves Further Into The Offline World With Launch Of Card Reader For In-Person Payments

Crafts marketplace Etsy this morning announced a further expansion into the offline world with the launch of an Etsy card reader product designed for sellers who want to take credit and debit card payments in person. The move is centered around Etsy’s larger goal to become a one-stop shop for …

eCommerce

Europe’s Sign2Pay Launches To Simplify Mobile Debit Payments And Oil The Wheels Of M-Commerce

Mobile payments startup Sign2Pay, launching today here in London at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe, is aiming to improve low conversion rates on mobile devices by simplifying and streamlining the payment process for debit card transactions. By, for instance, removing the need for bank issued hardware …

FinTech

On The Heels Of Apple Pay, Jumio Launches A Card-Scanning Mobile Checkout Product For Retailers’ iOS And Android Apps

Computer vision startup Jumio, best known for its payment card and ID-scanning technologies which allow end users to hold up their cards to a mobile device’s camera to simplify the process of entering in that data on small screens, is rolling out a new product today designed to improve the mobile …

MasterCard Will Borrow A Touch ID Trick For Fingerprint Scanning Credit Card

Apple isn’t the only company using biometrics to authenticate payments and purchases – Apple Pay partner MasterCard wants to make fingerprint scanning something even people without an iOS device can use to digitally ‘sign’ for contactless transactions. The credit card company is launching the …

Berlin’s Orderbird, A Tablet-Based Sales Platform, Orders Up Another $10M

Companies like Square, Groupon, PayPal and Amazon are all vying to be the primary tech partner for merchants at the point of sale in the U.S., and as more companies replace their legacy equipment with low-cost tablets, the race is heating up elsewhere, too. Orderbird, a startup out of Berlin, is …

Groupon

Google Shopping Express Expands To More Cities, Rebrands As “Google Express”

Google Shopping Express, rebranded to simply “Google Express” as of this morning, is no longer <i>entirely</i> subsidizing the costs associated with same-day delivery. The program, which offers instant shopping gratification to consumers in a growing number of U.S. cities, is now working to transition its …

Social Commerce App CardBlanc Puts A Shopping Mall On Your Phone

CardBlanc, a new e-commerce application targeting millennial spenders officially launched today, introducing a financial platform for easier mobile checkout combined with social activity similar to what you’d see on sites like Pinterest or Wanelo. The effort, which involves an iOS app and virtual …

Alibaba Debuts Baichuan, Its Answer To Amazon’s Developer Services

As newly public Alibaba continues to invest in startups to build out its presence in the U.S., it’s also looking at ways of expanding its ecosystem and platform at home.<p>The latest move was announced this week, as the company unveiled <i>Baichuan</i> — Chinese for “hundreds of rivers.” Taking a page from …

eCommerce

With ShopWings, Instacart Gets A Wink And A Clone From Rocket Internet

Instacart, the fast-growing grocery ordering and delivery service that earlier this year closed a $44 million round to expand to new markets, has a new clone in Europe, courtesy of Rocket Internet, the newly-public German company that has made a very big business out of replicating and building out …

Apple Pay And Digital Currency Mean Time Is Running Out For Physical Cash

<b>Editor’s Note:</b> <i>Ilya Subkhankulov is the COO of BTX Trader, the digital currency trading platform. He has also recently launched a consumer-friendly bitcoin and dogecoin buying service called Celery.</i><p>Since the advent of electronic payments, there has been a clear shift away from cash and checks. …

Apple Patent On The NFC Mechanics Of Apple Pay Details Its Inner Workings

Apple has applied for a patent (via AppleInsider) related to its new Apple Pay mobile payment system, and within the document, it goes into detail about how the near field communication between the phone and the payment terminal at participating stores works. Essentially, it explains in more …

Children’s Clothing Marketplace Totspot Raises $1.8M

500 Startups graduate Totspot is announcing today that it has raised $1.8 million in seed funding to expand its mobile marketplace for parents to buy and sell children’s clothing. The startup lets parents post pictures of goods they’d like to sell, a price, and simple description, and then takes a …

Square’s Order App Can Now Predict When You’ll Arrive To Pick Up Your Cappuccino

If are a techie who lives in San Francisco, you probably know what a miserable experience it is to wait in line at Blue Bottle in Mint Plaza with all the other techies in San Francisco. Well, payments startup Square wants to make it easier for you to get the cappuccino you want, and make sure it’s …

Apps

WePay Launches WePay Clear, A Stripe Competitor With Fraud Protection Built In

WePay — a startup from Palo Alto that competes against the likes of PayPal by providing payment services for marketplaces, crowdfunding platforms and other sites that enable online transactions between third-party buyers and sellers — is taking on another payments juggernaut, Stripe, with the …

FinTech

After Quietly Acquiring SnapSaves, Groupon Launches Snap, Paying You To Shop

Groupon continues apace with its plans to evolve from an online daily deals giant into a wider e-commerce player, with an emphasis on mobile and local purchases. Today the company is launching a new app called Snap — which provides iOS and Android users with a set list of products, and gives you …