While the industry waits for consumers to adopt near-field communication technology, AT&T Labs is putting the finishing touches on a white-label application that will let companies accept mobile commerce payments and coupons from any smartphone, says Rob Russell, director of global marketing solutions at AT&T.
The application, created completely by AT&T in-house, allows consumers to enter specific digits on the phone’s keypad to make a payment with a specific retailer. It works similar to a swipe of a gift card or Starbucks coffee card. The mobile application shows the account balance, additions and subtractions. Consumers can add funds into the mobile application through a Web portal or on the phone.
Russell calls the application “a stored value gift card with loyalty” features, declining to provide AT&T’s internal code name for the product in case the name changes.
Grocery stores, restaurants, university cafeterias, retail shops or other merchants providing the application to customers would essentially receive funds in advance of the purchase. They would have an opportunity to gather data on the back end to make better buying decisions when reordering merchandise or serving up specials and coupons to specific consumers.
AT&T might offer an option to integrate a recent application launched as a pilot in August, called AT&T Bar Code Services, which will be offered in two months. Last year, AT&T rolled out services that enable marketers to create interactive codes, as well as manage the back end to track and change content in real-time — all in a completely secure environment.
The barcode feature focuses on “search and discover” with the ability to tie into other actions related to a merchant’s catalog or menu of items. The message in an ad might direct consumers to “scan this” to get more information, for example.
Consumers will have an option to share location, gender, age, and other information to help merchants see the response rate for ads. The two applications, the barcode and mobile commerce, would complement mobile targeting.
This model is not without challenges.
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