The 2011 Contactless Monkey Award Finalists – In The High Street

Today we’re looking at those nominees that have done the most either through rollout or trials to bring NFC technology right to the very heart of metropolitan commercial centers. You and I know it as our local high street. It’s true that the high streets in questions range from the London to Kuwait, from Stiges to Dublin but hey, it’s local to someone, right?

Without further ado – let’s meet the nominees for NFC in the High Street and look at why they were nominated.
Clinton Cards (UK)VerIFone (UK)
National Bank of Kuwait (Kuwait)ViVOtech (US)
LA Caixa (Spain) – Telefonica O2 (Spain)
AIB Merchant Services (AIBMS)Zapa Technology (Ireland)

First up is Clinton Cards, who are the largest specialist retailer of greetings cards, plush merchandise (soft toys) and related products in the UK with about 650 Clinton branded shops and more than 170 birthdays branded shops.  The reatiler started with contactless transactions mid November 2010 and currently have 27 stores across London and Liverpool already running the contactless solution, with the remaining stores going live shortly.

Their aim is to roll the solution out to 50 pilot stores and then to increase this on a gradual basis as contactless becomes more prominent across the UK. The Clinton Cards Contactless system is built on VeriFone technology. In their stores, they have implemented the VeriFone Vx810 pin pad with an add on Contactless module, this works seamlessly with the store’s POS system. This Contactless PED device communicates over TCP/IP back to a central location when completing a transaction. The central location consists of multiple transaction servers running VeriFone’s Payware solution.

The company believes that “the system has given customers an alternative method of payment and a faster method of payment. This should benefit the customer more and more as Contactless becomes prominent in the marketplace. Queuing times will reduce at the checkout which means more free time for the customer and a more pleasant shopping experience”.

So far 27 of the 50 pilot stores have been installed with readers, with a view to finishing the pilot phase very soon.

Following closely in this category is the National Bank of Kuwait, who together with Visa and Zain mobile phone operator deployed the first EMV-Chip compliant NFC mobile payment trial in the Middle East using ViVOtech NFC software technology.

The trial allowed 500 selected NBK cardholders to download their Zain Visa credit card account details directly to their Nokia 6212 classic handset over the Zain network. Once the account was personalized on the phone, customers could make purchases at any one of the 200 merchant partner outlets at Kuwait’s largest mall, The Avenues, by simply waving a Nokia mobile phone over the Visa payWave reader at the point of sale. A Visa EMV (always online perso) applet was used enabling users the same EMV technology which protects all NBK credit and debit cards.

There were three milestone innovations occurring within this trial. The concept of ‘smart posters’ will be introduced to consumers, allowing them to collect retail offers that can be immediately redeemed for purchases at partner outlets simply by tapping their mobile phone against the poster. Secondly, customers and trial participants will be able to download a free Visa prepaid card by tapping the phone on a smart poster. Thirdly, participants with a credit card and a pre paid card, will also have the option to choose to pay from either cards from their phone at the point of sale, allowing greater on the go flexibility and convenience.

This pilot featured the creative and game changer prepaid card distribution application powered by ViVOtech patent pending technology – where NBK Visa Prepaid card was distributed through smart posters. Participants could just tap their NFC mobile phones on smart posters to provision a NBK prepaid Visa (already loaded with money) into their NFC mobile phones instantly. They could then use it to make payments at Visa payWave contactless enabled merchants right away.

Smart posters were also used to deliver coupons and promotions to consumers that were allowed to tap their phones to collect retail offers that could be immediately redeemed for purchases at partner outlets simply by tapping their mobile phone against the NFC reader in store.

Our third nominee is a SIM based NFC trial that started Spring 2010 and ran for 6 months in the city of Sitges near Barcelona. This implementation provided trialists with a new Samsung NFC phone which replaced their current phones (consumers were able to have all their existing data backed up and restored in the new phone), to a selected group of 1,200 La Caixa and Movistar customers and around 450 merchants. The consumer carried out the La Caixa Visa payment application installation OTA (Over the Air) very easily and could start using their mobile immediately at the selected locations within the city of Sitges.

Sitges is a city 30km south of Barcelona where La Caixa has a large market share among customers and merchants who acquire Visa transactions. As a result, the acceptance infrastructure was extensive among all the merchant locations.

The Mobile phone has clearly demonstrated it is one of the simplest payment experiences in all of the previous pilots carried out during the last few years. La Caixa wanted to use this pilot to validate the payment experience with a significant sample of customers across several products within their portfolio. The pilot is effectively seen as a pre-commercial launch where payment experience and business models will be validated.

And finally, ZAPA Technology is enabling the deployment of NFC services today through the roll out of the ZAPA TAG, while AIB Merchant Services (AIBMS), 50% AIB, 50% First Data Corporation, is one of Europe’s largest providers of card payment services with extensive operations in the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain and with card processing capabilities throughout Continental Europe. Identifying the need to gain a competitive edge in the market, AIBMS partnered with ZAPA Technology to provide a new contactless product in July 2010 called AIBMS LoyaltyPlus.

The project saw ZAPA’s contactless technology being integrated with AIBMS’ credit card terminal. The product provides standalone merchants a low cost means of understanding their customer base, encouraging repeat business and communicating with their customers via the seamless integration of their credit card terminal and the introduction of a contactless reader. The LoyaltyPlus solution is a points based system which is integrated with the AIB Merchant Services Point of Sale terminal. This solution captures details on all cash and card transactions.

Following months of technical development to integrate ZAPA’s technology with AIBMS terminals, a one month trial was rolled out in 3 stores. Satisfied that the technology worked well in each environment, 2 additional features were developed based on feedback provided. A complimentary product, the V-terminal, was introduced which allows stores to award loyalty for on-line and phone orders. This is installed to a PC and can award & redeem loyalty as per the credit card terminal. A reader can be connected to the PC via a USB port or alternatively the tag number can be entered manually for Tag Not Present transactions.

A Merchant Portal was also developed which links directly from AIBMS’s and ZAPA’s website for ease of access. This portal allows customers to log into their account, view reports, order additional ZAPA tags and merchandise, set up an SMS or Email campaign or tailor their loyalty offering for special promotions etc.

Partnering with AIBMS has given ZAPA the benefit of tapping in to AIBMS’ nationwide sales force. The AIBMS sales team focused on specific regions and firstly targeted existing customers with businesses that were suitable for a loyalty product, using the additional features of the integrated loyalty application and the faster speed of the new terminal as a hook for to accept the new terminal.

Once a merchant has signed up to for LoyaltyPlus through their AIBMS sales rep, and decided upon the loyalty awards they want to offer, they receive a “One Box” which contains everything necessary to begin using their pre-configured credit card terminal and contactless loyalty solution. The box contains instruction manuals on the terminal and user guide for the loyalty platform, ZAPA Tags, log in details for the Merchant Portal and a range of loyalty merchandise such as till wobblers, window stickers and posters etc. The merchant can then promote their loyalty programme in store as they see fit.

So there you have it – the four finalists who have been nominated for doing the most to bring NFC to your local high street. But which one of them will be bringing home a Contactless Monkey Award on the 14th April?