Netflix Blames Weak US Subscriber Additions on New Chip-Based Cards

Video-streaming service provider Netflix Inc reported third-quarter US subscriber additions below its own forecast, blaming a transition to chip-based cards for the miss.

Shares of Netflix, known for its original shows such as “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black”, plunged about 15 percent after the bell, before clawing back to trade down 2.4 percent.

US credit and debit card companies have been shifting to chip-enabled cards ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline mandated for the switch.

For Netflix, the switch meant that many of the older cards on its file no longer worked as the companies gave new cards to their customers, leading to “involuntary churn,” as Chief Executive Reed Hastings put it in a letter to shareholders.

“It’s just the dumbest thing I’ve heard,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

FBR Capital Markets analyst Barton Crockett said the issue around the chip cards is particularly confusing, given that these cards have been around for a bit.

“It begs a million questions,” he said.

Netflix said on Wednesday it added 0.88 million US subscribers in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with its forecast of 1.15 million.

“The slowdown in US subscriber growth was particularly disappointing because one would expect that since Netflix just raised rates last week, this number would have been strong,” said Crockett.

Netflix increased the subscription rate for some new members earlier this month by $1.00 a month to $9.99 in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Internationally, Netflix added 2.74 million subscribers, compared with its projection of 2.40 million.

Netflix, which is also battling competition from streaming services such as Amazon Inc’s Prime Video service and Hulu, has been aggressively building its overseas presence.

The company said it was in the “early stages” of its China entry and said it was “still learning a lot”.

Netflix said in July its plans to enter China in 2016 could be delayed.

Netflix is being “more adventurous” on the news side, company executives said on a post-earnings conference call.

The company added it was not looking at live sports as an offering currently.

“There’s a lot of irrational bidders for sports, we’re not anxious to become another one,” Netflix’s head of content Ted Sarandos said. “Sports on demand is not as exciting as sports live.”

Netflix forecast adding about 1.65 million customers in the United States in the current quarter. It also said it expected to add about 3.50 million subscribers worldwide.

Facebook Bug Shows Post View Counts for Some Users

Facebook has been reported to be hit by a bug that accidentally shows the view counts for posts shared across the social platform. The bug is said to be causing the issue only on mobile website.

According to users who reported the issue, the view counts appear below every post shared on the profile and shows just like how video counts are shows below every video shared on Facebook. A Twitter user named Marvin Ronsdorf has shared a screenshot that shows the view counts of posts shared by footballers Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi.


facebook_post_view_count_marvin_ronsdorf_twitter.jpgThe Verge reports that the bug has been so far has not been reported to hit any desktop or Facebook app user on mobile and has been only reported to be coming from mobile site visitors. The social giant has confirmed that it is now working to remove the view counts from user posts, telling The Verge the changes should already be taking effect.

Reports of the bug on Facebook’s Facebook’s mobile site are not widespread, and may have only affected limited users accessing the social network. The view counts are appearing under the photo posts and shared links of the users themselves, and others in their News Feed. The view counts for each post can be a very easy way to see how many users actually see every single post shared with friends but at the same time it can also be a reality check on how many people actually saw the post and responded with a like or comment.

Facebook’s Anticipated News App Is Reportedly Called ‘Notify’

The social networking giant Facebook is reportedly working on a breaking news app called Notify, and is ready to launch it by October end, according to a media report.

The app will reportedly allow users to aggregate their favourite content into real-time notifications.

Partnering publications will have the ability to create specific notifications for the mobile platform on behalf of Facebook, like a mega-tweet. Then users will be directed to the publication’s website via the notification, according to The Awl.

Facebook seeks to expand its functionalities to something much more than just a social network – the most popular one in the world if it makes any difference. The app will allow users to subscribe to certain organisations dubbed as stations and they will then receive notifications during the day, every time one of the stations they have subscribed to promotes a new story.

That will obviously give a big boost on Facebook’s presence as a multi-functioning platform, rather than just a simple social network.

According to statistics, nearly no media networks and companies have managed to establish a well designed smartphone app that its readers – or most of them – actually use; at least not near the capacity of Facebook.

This gives the company the advantage that it is very likely that users will read more articles through Facebook media networks with strong app presences, such as BuzzFeed and the New York Times, which may consider working with Notify to direct the firehose of social media users in the right direction.

Besides all the above, Notify will also be a challenge for Facebook’s rival social network, Twitter, which also launched a new feature last week called Moments, that lets Twitter curate tweets into different categories, such as news and sports.

So media companies will also have a chance to create their own moments and fill the feature with their content which will ultimately attract more readers and hence users as well.

Ezetap Adds 4 Indian Mobile Wallets to Its Mobile Point of Sale Solution

Bengaluru-based Ezetap, a Square-like smartphone-based payments device, announced that it has added universal acceptance of mobile wallets for its merchants base on Thursday. Ezetap has tied up with four Indian mobile wallet players – Paytm, MobiKwik, Novopay, and FreeCharge.

Abhijit Bose, CEO and Co-Founder, Ezetap referred to the development as a fundamental change in how the payments industry works. “We’re trying to focus on digital electronic transaction adoption. That’s the big mega picture that everybody is working on. The government is working on it,” he said, referring to National Payments Corporation of India’s rollout of its Unified Payments Interface, which brings interoperability from different bank accounts and wallets.

He referred to Nandan Nilenkani’s talk which he called it a WhatsApp moment for financial services, based on the dissemination of smart connected mobile devices to consumers and to merchants. Collectively, they allowing internet based companies to disrupt and transform industries, and unlock untapped markets, he said.

“What nobody has solved at scale yet, is the third leg of the stool which is merchants. If you can only book an Uber cab or buy something in your own app, it’s not going to become mainstream. What you need large scale mass adoption, from tier 1 Bengaluru down to tier 4 villages of every sector. Only when you do that, do you have digital economy,” Bose said.

“Until this launch, nobody had a single solution that was interoperable and supported every form of digital payment in this country,” Bose said, adding that mobile wallets can focus on on the consumer side, while Ezetap focuses on the merchant side of the equation.

Ezetap’s card reader, priced at $50, needs an Internet-enabled smartphone to accept payments. Bose said that it works on a basic 2G network, and that the wallets don’t add an extra cost on Ezetap merchants. The standard monthly package costs Rs. 150 a month, for the basic mPOS Goes up with premium services. Banks can choose to provide their own rates bases on their merchant relationship, the company said.

“The combination of the terminal and the EZ tap application allows the merchant to take credit card, debit card payments, and now wallets. And it also links to our server in the cloud, so we can enable any kind of transaction anywhere,” Bose said, adding that more wallet integration announcements coming coming in the next few weeks and months.

Ezetap currently works with Android and Windows Phone smartphones, and is coming out with an iOS version soon.

Live for the last 24 months, Ezetap has deployed over 70,000 service points, Bose said. SBI, HDFC, Citibank, and American Express, an investor presently deploy EZtap’s mPOS solution, while Amazon, Bajaj Allianz, Airtel and BigBasket are some of their biggest customers, Bose said, adding that over 20,000 small merchants currently use its service.

Ezetap had raised raised $25 million (roughly Rs. 161 crores) in its Series C round in August.