Thursday, June 25, 2015

Payzapp mobile payment ecosystem - review

I have been owning an HDFC Bank account for almost 18 years and if I remember correctly, it started off as a pure online account (non branch) with zero balance, when I was a student. I have been banking with them ever since, as my primary bankers. My branch visits (although account moved from student to Preferred a/c over the years) have stopped almost completely except for attestation of bank statements for visa purposes or for international money transfers for running race fees.

Since last one and half year, I have not only stopped visiting the branch but almost stopped using the desktop banking website of the bank, except for printing statements or adding payees, as the same is somehow not permitted via the iOS application.

Given this background I have been looking to get more from my mobile banking experience on the HDFC Bank iOS app. I was quite excited with the recent launches of Chillr and square version of POS terminal by HDFC Bank to improve debit and credit card usage. Chillr is an exciting product but it's quite limiting my requirements, given the specific focus of making account to account transfers/transactions. Finally with the launch of Payzapp, HDFC Bank has finally addressed my need of having something which does almost everything I require. It can become a wallet, generate a disposable card for conducting transactions on unknown international sites, make payment using my debit or credit card for ecomm transactions without the need of a 3D secure/second layer or OTP. This convenience of bypassing second layer (legally), and getting as close to the old uber experience of paying using credit card without having to do almost anything is a huge win for me.

I have been able to check only the basic features of the newly launched Payzapp app, given that only android version has been launched. But I like what I have seen and am eagerly waiting for two things to happen, one the imminent launch of iOS version next month and introduction of non HDFC Bank credit cards inside Patzapp. Once these two things happen, I would finally have a one stop platform for all my payment needs.

Next post will be after launch of iOS version and linking of my account to Payzapp.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Apple watch - Sport version

I have a confession to make—I bought the Apple watch for two main reasons: its sports tracking and Heart Rate Monitoring (HRM) feature. The third important reason is to gain bragging rights. As a sportsman, I justified the Rs.25k price tag by reasoning that an all-in-one device, the Apple watch replaces the need to own a Garmin/polar tracker, a wrist watch, Bluetooth headset, selfie stick, personal assistant, remote control, notification centre... So convinced was I of the utility, quality and aesthetics, I bought it without a peep at demo purely based on the specifications announced at its launch.

And I wasn't disappointed. This wearable device is ideally suited for an iPhone power user or a sports and fitness enthusiast. In my case, I am both. For most users, the Apple watch is an extremely convenient extension of their iPhone: it performs the task of a remote for most iPhone features, and serves as an easy to access Notification Center in its current form. The health and fitness feature of this device is clearly its key scoring point. Apple health and worksout apps, in addition to third party applications like Runkeeper, make it an exhaustive fitness accessory or wearable device.

If you're not a fitness freak, but would like to get there. Start right here as the Apple watch will send you regular reminders to stand and walk around if you've been sitting for too long at your desk. It also notifies you of your standing and workout targets according to your lifestyle.

Two unique features that stand out are the accuracy of HRM readings, and the ability of the workout app to gather personalised data from my speed and stride length (from distance travelled) while being paired to the phone. It also actually maps the workout accurately even without being accompanied by the phone.

Last but not the least, the battery life of the Apple watch surpassed my expectations, given the reviews which have been appearing recently. After the initial day or two of extra excitement, the watch will comfortably last the entire day on a single charge. And this with sufficiently active usage.

Having said that, this is only the first version of the watch and app development, and is in its infancy. The Twitter app on the watch, for example, still allows you to only choose between timeline and trending topics without the option to choose mention or direct messages as feeds, among other things. My verdict: unless you're an avid iPhone junkie, a heavy user who needs to charge his phone at least two times a day or a fitness enthusiast, you might want to wait for version 2.0.

This review first appeared in DNA - http://www.dnaindia.com/scitech/report-apple-watch-review-a-firsthand-experience-from-a-fitness-enthusiast-2088221

Price - $380 or Rs.25000 (US apple store - online price, including taxes, excluding freight and duties)