Orange UK to Launch NFC Loyalty App; Seeks to Build User Numbers
Orange UK has announced what it calls the United Kingdom’s first mobile-contactless retail rewards scheme, enabling subscribers with NFC phones to tap smart posters to receive free food or drink items from a UK restaurant chain.
The “Quick Tap Treats” application with quick-serve restaurant chain Eat will launch next month, enabling what Orange says will be an estimated 200,000 subscribers with NFC phones to tap tags in smart posters to get the rewards.
It’s perhaps the first time Orange has announced a figure for the number of subscribers equipped with NFC phones and able to use at least some NFC services, since Orange and UK credit card issuer and acquirer Barclaycard commercially launched its NFC Quick Tap service last May.
The 200,000 NFC-enabled users would be a little more than 1% of Orange UK’s subscriber base, not counting its T-Mobile UK partner in the Everything Everywhere joint venture. The figure apparently does not only include subscribers equipped with NFC-enabled SIM cards, since the Quick Tap Treats service involves tag reading and doesn’t appear to require a link to Orange’s NFC-enabled SIMs.
But Orange in its announcement of the loyalty program today predicted the number of subscribers able to use NFC services is “set to rapidly grow as further NFC enabled handsets are ranged.”
At present, Orange said subscribers with NFC versions of eight mobile phones can use the tag-reading application at the Eat outlets. The phones are the Samsung Tocco Lite, Samsung Wave 578, Samsung Galaxy S II, Acer Liquid Express and four Blackberry models, the 9900, 9360, 9790, and 9380.
It’s not clear how many of these phones support MasterCard PayPass-enabled prepaid payment–the main application for Quick Tap. Orange UK's Web site lists only the Tocco Lite–also known as the Samsung S5230–and the Wave 578, as Quick Tap phones. UPDATE: The Galaxy S II will soon be available for payment, NFC Times has learned. END UPDATE.
It’s also unclear when T-Mobile UK will join the Quick Tap service, which was to happen before the end of 2011.
Plans by the United Kingdom’s second largest operator, Telefónica UK, known as O2, have also been delayed, though it continues to gear up for a launch. And the country’s three major operators, Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone UK, are behind in forming their planned joint venture and to build a common NFC technical platform. The joint venture also would allow the telcos to share some sales and marketing functions.
The Quick Tap Treats application is likely designed to stoke interest in NFC and, of course, to bring more customers into Eat. The chain is one of the pioneers of the United Kingdom’s contactless payment rollout, launched in 2007.
The promotion will run until summer, enabling Orange subscribers to tap their phones on smart posters at most Eat locations to receive the gift items, such as a baguette, piece of fruit, or a coffee. There doesn’t appear to be a requirement to tap a contactless terminal to redeem the rewards.
When users tap the posters, it apparently will open up a game on their handsets. They play the game to get the free food or drink item, said Orange in its announcement. The operator added that the Quick Tap Treats game would also be available as an app downloadable from the Orange World portal, as well as from app stores for BlackBerry, Android and Nokia-Ovi users.