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UK Contactless Merchant Plans to Launch Loyalty Trial with Stickers

Oct 24 2011 (All day)

Sandwich chain Eat, one of the first merchants to roll out contactless payment in the United Kingdom, plans to introduce a contactless loyalty scheme using passive stickers.

The chain, which has more than 100 UK locations, would use a contactless loyalty and likely also a closed-loop payment system of Zapa Technology. Zapa now mainly serves its home base of Ireland. Eat is to launch an eight-week trial in early May at its new store in Liverpool. Plans call for then rolling out the contactless loyalty system throughout the chain, assuming the trial goes well.

Update: Zapa, however, in late October reportedly appointed a provisional liquidator to help it pay off its debts. End update.

Eat would issue stickers, branded both Eat and Zapa, to customers, enabling them to tap to receive points and redeem rewards. They could also view coupons and rewards, along with account details via a smartphone app on their phones. The chain might also enable customers to pay for sandwiches, soups, salads and coffee with a prepaid stored-value account. That would be in addition to open-loop contactless credit and debit cards the chain now accepts.

“We (want to) have that one-to-one relationship with customers; getting to understand individual buying patterns,” Rene Batsford, head of IT for Eat, told NFC Times.

He said the chain is planning to upgrade its point-of-sale terminal system and this would enable it to support the contactless loyalty launch. The same terminals are expected to accept open-loop contactless applications, such as Visa payWave and MasterCard PayPass. Eat was the first merchant in the United Kingdom to introduce an integrated contactless POS system, which reduces the steps when consumers tap their cards to pay.

Zapa has recorded more than 2 million contactless transactions to date. About 200,000 customers have stickers and nearly 800 merchant locations accept them. They include more than 100 locations of the Insomnia Coffee chain in Ireland. Another 450 locations are gearing up. But the implementations have required standalone Zapa terminals.

Zapa Technology chief operating officer Donal McGuinness, said the Zapa Tags, or passive stickers, serve as a bridge to the coming of full NFC mobile phones. But the company already can link transactions conducted by consumers using the stickers to apps on smartphones, which it has developed for the iPhone and Android smartphones, along with a couple of others, he said.

The transactions go through the Zapa server and to the customers’ handsets. But the move to NFC would enable more integrated delivery of offers and coupons and redemption.

Eat would be the first of the British merchants accepting contactless payment to also introduce contactless loyalty.

 

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