A whiny Christmas to all!

Image via Thinkstock

The spirit of complaining about nothing

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. November 18, 2015

It’s that special time of year between Halloween and New Year’s where people start making a fuss about decorations and salutations. This year it’s no different. We are still over a month away from Christmas and already we have two notable controversies to discuss. And the funny thing is, science and religions are not even involved.

The one that received the most attention is the Starbucks “red cup” controversy. When it was first brought to my attention that Starbucks had released their annual festively decorated trash—I mean, disposable cups—I, like most people, didn’t care. Each year, the coffee retailer goes out of their way to design holiday themed cups, but this year all that was present was a simple coat of red. It was minimalistic, and highly offensive to some, apparently.

Starbucks, with an effort to stay politically correct and secular, decided that a simple red would be a modest choice for the brand. I agree. It is nice to drink from a cup that isn’t cluttered with clichéd designs. Honestly, I barely ever look at the cup anyways. Why would I? It would just remind me that once again they thought my name was “Alex.”

I hope that next year Starbucks uses the same stupid red cup. Or better yet, they should just stick with the white cups that they use the rest of the year. After all, white is a Christmas hue.

The second controversy is even more absurd. It involves one of the largest payment processors in the world, PayPal. PayPal is known to frustrate a lot of people, but not usually in such a ridiculous fashion as their new commercial did. In the UK PayPal ad, a couple of children are left saddened, anxious, and concerned when their parents aren’t bringing any gifts home as the holiday approaches. Snotty little kids worried about their gifts, how touching right? The twist in the commercial is that the parents weren’t carrying any gifts home, because they made online purchases and they were delivered without the children knowing—much like some Father Christmas guy.

Well, apparently PayPal broke the illusion for some British children. There is no Santa Claus! What I find interesting is that children are watching a PayPal commercial at all. Moreover, if your children are able to conceptualize the idea of digital payments, they are probably too old to believe in Santa. Although, the idea of invisible money does sound as fictional as a man who lives in the North Pole with a bunch of elves and reindeers.

What corporations need to understand is that they can’t please everyone this time of year. If you put up too many decorations and play too much Michael Bublé, people are going to be angry. Then again, if you don’t make an effort, you get chewed out all the same. I didn’t grow up with Christmas being a big deal, it just happened around me. I’m not religious, and as an only child I never really had a problem with presents. Christmas to me is a chance to get some rest and enjoy myself. The only thing I have to complain about during Christmas is that most stores and restaurants are closed. That’s the real bullshit!

Get Control Of Your Business With the Hootsuite of Mobile Payments

In a global economy where everyone and everything is here and there, Vancouver-based Control places the control back into the hands of the business managers with mobile payment access and upgraded analytic tools.

“We’re seeing all these new types of payment methods in the market,” said Kathryn Loewen, CEO and co-founder of Control, “but one of the commonality amongst all of them is that they are all moving toward open standards.”

Bitcoin, Dwolla, Apply Pay and credit card processors such as Stripe and Paymill have changed the way businesses operate. And as many as 70% of those finance managing companies have chosen an open protocol, which when integrated with Control will offer their users a more diverse payment managing experience.

Loewen added: “People have called us the HootSuite of payments.”

HootSuite capitalized on their success because they were able to build business applications on top of the Twitter API. At one point, Facebook tried to purchase the social media management dashboard and make them the primary dashboard for Facebook, but Hootsuite declined the offer, knowing that the bigger opportunity comes by connecting to every platform.

Control is doing what Hootsuite did for content developers, social media coordinators, etc. and is applying that model to payment stacks for businesses. And like Hootsuite, Control is “platform agnostic,” which is one of the reasons why they have integrated so well with numerous online payment companies such as Stripe.

Stripe’s easy merchant onboarding makes it simple for users to sign up and for businesses to freely access their API. It was Stripe’s push toward this open API model that shifted the momentum of the industry. Even PayPal—a traditionally closed platform—who’ve spent many years enjoying their monopoly are now participating in this open-data economy.

Moreover, the high demand for quality analytic tools adds another valued element to Control. The same way Hootsuite built better analytics than Twitter, Control refined that aspect for payment platforms.

“We’re solving two problems: Online business managers—who start using Stripe or PayPal to manage their business—they are still dealing with the fact that they are using different platforms or different dashboards to manage all those different payment methods,” said Loewen, “and also, no good mobile app exist for those payment platforms.”

Although any merchant or business manager can benefit from Control, the most prevalent users are those that run a SAAS, online or global business, which requires the business managers to be somewhat like “modern nomads.” The ability to manage transaction activities directly from the mobile app, while they are on the go, will ease workflow, improve customer service and be more vigilant against fraud through mobile payment.

“Our target market may have a checkout that’s optimized for mobile, they might not, it doesn’t really matter,” said Loewen. “What we really care about is helping them manage their business better.”

Control’s iOS and Android apps are now integrated with Stripe, in addition to being the first Paymill app in Europe. Currently Control is building the control board for the web-based analytics and preparing to launch beta within the next month. By the end of the 2014 Control will go live anywhere Stripe is available as well as targeting the 9 million PayPal merchants across the globe.