MiX Telematics sales up 20% on contract extensions, new deals

South Africa’s MiX Telematics has reported impressive results for the first half of the year, boosted by the extension of existing contracts and new deals in Europe and Australasia.

The telematics vendor, which specializes in driver safety, vehicle tracking and fleet management, said revenues were up 20.3%, year on year, to 564 million rand ($64 million), while operating profits soared 60.8% to 76 million rand.

Telefonica launches integrated Smart Cities M2M offer

Spanish telecoms incumbent Telefonica unveiled an integrated Smart Cities M2M offering at this week’s Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona.

The operator says the service will help town councils and other bodies to supervise and manage the installation and maintenance of connected devices and the collection and analysis of data.

Telefonica (Madrid, Spain) claims entrepreneurs will be able to develop applications on top of the Smart City platform, while cities can use it to improve the services they provide to citizens.

Burnished by Starbucks, upstart Square battles payment giants

Two years ago, employees from the start-up Square Inc descended on farmers markets in San Francisco to hand out a new type of credit-card reader that let small, independent merchants accept plastic via their smartphones or tablets.

But this month, when Starbucks Inc (Seattle, USA) and Square (San Francisco, USA) announced that 7,000 coffee shops across the country would begin accepting payment through Square's smartphone app, the small white cubes that were Square's original calling card didn't merit a mention.

Thailand seeks smart-grid advice from Orga Systems

Billing-systems vendor Orga Systems has been asked to contribute its expertise to an EU-funded smart-grid project in Thailand.

The company has been running a series of training sessions about introducing cost-effective and user-friendly smart grids to the Thai market as part of the SmartThai initiative.

Owing to the success of those workshops, Thailand’s Ministry of Energy has asked Orga (Paderborn, Germany) to address business-critical policy issues with the relevant government authorities.

Exclusive: Google Ventures beefs up fund size to $300 million a year

Reuters

Google will increase the cash it allocates to its venture-capital arm to up to $300 million a year from $200 million, catapulting Google Ventures into the top echelon of corporate venture-capital funds.

Access to that sizeable checkbook means Google Ventures (Mountain View, USA) will be able to invest in more later-stage financing rounds, which tend to be in the tens of millions of dollars or more per investor.

iZettle launches mobile-payments service with EE

Swedish mobile-payments company iZettle has launched services in the UK through an exclusive deal with EE, the country’s biggest network operator.

Under the arrangement, iZettle’s mini chip-card readers will be available from any of EE’s (London, UK) 297 stores or via the operator’s telesales channel.

The readers can be connected to smartphones and tablets, turning the devices into mobile-payment terminals that will accept transactions via Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners Club.

Telefonica Digital launches cloud service for M2M

Telefónica Digital has launched a cloud-computing service designed partly to support M2M applications for developers, digital businesses and large enterprises.

Branded Instant Servers, the service is supported by the operator’s data centres in the UK and Spain and promises a service level agreement (SLA) of 99.996% with financial compensation in the event of non-compliance.

Instant Servers also allows customers to serve more workloads per virtual machine than public cloud services and thereby reduce their operating costs.

Paypal enters the holiday price-matching fray

Reuters

PayPal launched a price-matching offer on Thursday, following similar moves by retailers including Target Corp, as the payments giant tries to encourage more shoppers to use its service this holiday season.

If consumers purchase products with PayPal and the items are advertised for lower prices by any merchant within 30 days, PayPal said it will reimburse users the difference.

The price-matching offer includes PayPal purchases made online and in physical stores and runs through December 31, the company, owned by eBay Inc (San Jose, USA), added.

Germany to decide future of smart metering in 2013: report

Germany’s decision on whether to mandate the introduction of smart grids could make or break the European industry, according to a new study from analyst firm Berg Insight.

Germany is the only major country in Western Europe that has not required utilities to introduce smart-grid technology, and take-up has consequently been disappointing.

Ericsson strikes M2M deals with TeliaSonera, MegaFon

Equipment maker Ericsson has struck important M2M deals with TeliaSonera and MegaFon, two of the world’s biggest operators, while saying the broader market for software and services is likely to generate a higher proportion of its revenues in future.

In the last few days, both operators have announced plans to use Ericsson’s M2M Device Connection Platform, which should make it easier for them to manage large numbers of subscriptions and provide more flexibility to M2M partners and customers.

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