Facebook based contactless reward scheme trialling in Singapore
Aneace Haddad of Welcome Realtime fame back with his next big idea
You may remember him as the indefatigable CEO of Welcome Realtime, but now Aneace Haddad is working on a new loyalty scheme idea aimed at restaurants and small businesses that incorporates both social media and contactless technology.
Undergoing a ‘soft’ launch in Singapore currently, participants in the scheme will use contactless stickers that can be put on the back of one’s phones to collect loyalty points with retailers they have subscribed to using Facebook’s ‘fan’ pages.
This is how Haddad explains it: “The concept is simple, everyone loves loyalty cards for restaurants, shops, airlines, hotels, etc. The more you use them, the more benefits your rack up under your account. The problem with loyalty cards is that everyone is offering one. If I designate 12-15 places I would like to be loyal to, that means keeping with me those 12-15 plastic cards with me at all times – the fat wallet concept. We all hate that and if I had to decide on keeping only 5 loyalty cards in my wallet, it then becomes a problem for the retailers who are not in my wallet, to think of something to make me keep their loyalty card with me at all times.”
How TaggoMe will work
A consumer buys a card (for US$7) and registers it just once on the Facebook/Taggo page.
Then either in the retailer or on Facebook, he or she chooses which restaurants and small businesses they want to collect loyalty points from.
At the retailer, the consumer sends an SMS (text message) to a number that Taggo provides for each country, with the unique code of the retailer. All the benefits of that loyalty program can then be enjoyed. The customer enrollment details (as enrolled on the web site originally) are then shared with the retailer.
So why the need for the card?
This is where Haddad is doing some forward planning, and working towards the day when all merchants will be contactless payments enabled, and possible, when we will all be using NFC mobile phones to make payments.
The principle is that at checkout, the consumer would ‘tap and go’ with a contactless card or NFC phone, which would automatically load up personal details to the retailer participating, and the scheme.
NFC specialist Vivotech has signed a partnership with Taggo to provide the contactless stickers.
Either positively or negatively, depending on your point of view, Taggo does not track the behavior pattern of the consumer. Just the loyalty programs they are enrolled in.
The role of Facebook
The recent ‘Fan-pages’ surge in Facebook, makes signing up with Taggo very easily. This should also be possible on other sites, including Google, as they develop their own ‘fan-page’ services.
However, it has been pointed out that other social media iniatives, such as Geolocation Apps may make Taggo obsolete before it begins. This, as well as Foursquare and, more recently, Facebook Place enables people to find out their friends’ whereabouts if they check in on their smartphones. They can then suggest they meet up.
Businesses can do the same, that is, reward customers for checking in at their stores, using GPS and the mobile network.
Taggo is currently being tested in Singapore where the initial Taggo card costs US$7 and is in the form of a contactless sticker. As already explained, the card uses NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. This mini SIM can either be stuck to the back of your phone.
“It’s a substitute for coupons, it’s a substitute for cards so the retailer doesn’t have to issue his own loyalty card,” he explains. “You just tap your transit card and on the screen the clerk sees whether or not you’re a fan,” says Haddad.
Singapore is a good place for the trial because 9 million contactless cards are already in use, so the merchant acceptance is relatively good.
At the same time, the city is quite small, so merchant density can be quickly achieved.
Other loyalty schemes for small businesses
The Welcome Real-time system that Haddad created is used by Barclays in the UK for its Barclaycard Freedom reward scheme, awards points to Barclaycard customers automatically when they shop in the claimed 30,000 merchants associated with the scheme.
In Ireland, a similar small business scheme run by AIB, called AIBMS has achieved massive growth in a very small period. Using ZappaTAG technology, the contactless tag allows multiple loyalty cards to operate on a single tag to drive a points-based system, which is integrated with AIBMS point of sales terminals.
AIBMS loyaltyplus also allows retailers to plan SMS campaigns to be sent directly to their most valued customers.
“We developed this programme specifically with small to medium-sized retail outlets and service providers in mind, to allow them to operate a loyalty programme on a par with larger retail chains,” said Chris Mason, managing director of AIBMS.
“The AIBMS loyaltyplus solution also assists retailers by providing information and analysis of their own customer base and enables them to address specific consumer profiles with integrated communication tools.
More information on AIBMS and the massive reach it has achieved in Ireland in a short space of time, coming soon to Loyalty Magazine.