Instead of telling somebody to call you at “Two-one-two, five-five-five,” and so on, you’d say, “Call me at **JimTR.” StarStar Me (so fun to write!) also makes your double-asterisk number able to be found via your Twitter or Facebook profiles, if you so desire. It sounds like, well, an interesting idea for young folk who really care about everybody being able to call them about everything. And maybe that’s where the money is?
Wal-Mart and American Express launch entirely mobile-focused bank service
Efforts like Simple have pushed the tech-savviness of modern banking forward, but mostly for those with smartphones, and with some standard banking legacy left over. Wal-Mart, seeking to better serve customers without the means or desire to maintain traditional bank accounts, is pulling off a kind of bold move and creating an entirely phone-based bank, Bluebird. You deposit checks and money using your phone or Bluebird kiosks, you pay bills with your phone, and you get a pre-paid debit card linked directly to that deposit account.
Entirely mobile payment systems are nothing new, particularly in Africa, where they sometimes serve as the backbone of an entire people’s economy. But it’s quite interesting to see Wal-Mart giving customers something that some Apple Store customers probably wish they could have, too.
Chinese smartphone makers: U.S. security threat?
Mike Rogers, chairman of the US Congress’ Intelligence Committee, isn’t interested in Chinese phone makers Huawei or ZTE because he’s in need of a cheaper, more open smartphone solution. No, Rogers told 60 Minutes that he’s concerned about those companies’ ties to the Chinese government, and the potential espionage opportunities that provides. Only 4 percent of Huawai’s revenues come from the U.S. right now, but Rogers and an Intelligence Committee report see them as a non-cooperative and ambitious extension of China’s aggressive intelligence operations.
I have no particular take on this. Except to say that it would be funny if spy agencies had somehow managed to create Android apps that work on every phone, don’t force close, and contribute to longer battery life before any other developer had done so.