Zapp mobile payments system gets boost in UK as major retailers come on board


Zapp, a British mobile payments outfit that partnered with several major banks earlier this year, has announced a raft of major retailers that will accept payments through its service both in-store and online.

On Wednesday, [company]Zapp[/company] said that from 2015 Asda ([company]Walmart[/company]’s U.K. subsidiary), [company]Sainsbury’s[/company], House of Fraser and catalog firm Shop Direct would all accept payments through Zapp, as would others including Spar, Clarks, [company]Thomas Cook[/company], Best Western hotels, and utilities such as Anglian Water and Bristol & Wessex Water. Some charities, such as Oxfam, have already signed up.

What’s more, point-of-sale systems providers such as the ubiquitous [company]Verifone[/company], as well as online payments processors such as [company]Klarna[/company], have also said they will work with Zapp.

This really does seem to represent broad retail industry support for Zapp in the U.K. — an unsurprising development in many ways, seeing as it’s a subsidiary of VocaLink, one of the largest…

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The next step for intelligent virtual assistants: It’s time to consolidate


When we talk about the future of artificial intelligence (AI), the discussion often focuses on the advancements and capabilities of the technology, or even the risks and opportunities inherent in the potential cultural implications. What we frequently overlook, however, is the future of AI as a business.

[company]IBM[/company] Watson’s recent acquisition and deployment of [company]Cognea[/company] signals an important shift in the AI and intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) market, and offers an indication of both of the potentials of AI as a business and the areas where the market still needs development.

The AI business is about to be transformed by consolidation. Consolidation carries real risks, but it is generally a sign of technological maturation. And it’s about time, as AI is no longer simply a side project, or an R&D euphemism. AI is finally center stage.

IBM, for all its investment in the Watson platform, was still missing, among other…

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