U.S.: Fast-food Chain Tests Contactless Loyalty Stickers


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Rochester, IndianaUnited States
Jun 2009
Main Application: 
Mobile Operator: 
Service Provider (application): 
Dairy Queen (Tetherball loyalty program)
Four Dairy Queen locations
NFC Handsets: 
Secure Element: 
Passive sticker
Other Vendors: 
Tetherball (loyalty system), Vivotech (POS readers, licenses Tetherball use of readers for app)

Franchise owners of four locations of the Dairy Queen ice cream and fast-food chain–mainly in the Indiana home base of the loyalty system provider Tetherball–issue the small round stickers to consumers to stick to the back of their phones. Users text in the six-digit number on the sticker. That ties the customers to the sticker in Tetherball’s back-office. Consumers can then tap to redeem offers they get regularly via SMS. The opt-in system would also enable merchants to customize offers to customers based on buying patterns, though Tetherball is not yet doing that. Contactless redemption is faster and more accurate than cashiers keying in numbers from customers using straight-SMS couponing or bar-code couponing, said Tetherball. The vendor had tried bar-code redemption with Dairy Queen, with poor results because of delays in cashiers being able to read and otherwise redeem coupons from customers at the counter.

NFC Times Take: 

Tetherball is attempting to add contactless stickers to its SMS-based loyalty programs. Besides Dairy Queen, such fast-food chains as McDonald’s and Arby’s also use SMS couponing, at least in some geographies, though not yet stickers. The latter chains also have contactless readers for bank-card payment that relatively few consumers use. If successful, Tetherball and similar contactless loyalty programs could make use of those readers. In the first quarter, U.S.-based Blaze Mobile plans to introduce a sticker that combines a prepaid MasterCard PayPass payment application with Tetherball loyalty. Blaze and MasterCard announced availability of the Blaze Wallet sticker in March 2009 with only payment onboard, but few have been issued. Ireland-based Zapa Technologies, has a similar loyalty system using contactless stickers. Tetherball earns fees from merchants for providing the loyalty service.



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