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First Data joint venture to offer mobile contactless loyalty service to merchants in UK and Ireland

AIB Merchant Services’ new Loyaltyplus service integrates Zapa’s mobile contactless technology into merchants’ POS terminals, enabling even the smallest retailer to offer an NFC-compatible customer loyalty programme — from only €30 a month.

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STICKERS: AIB Merchant Services will offer Zapa's NFC-ready loyalty technology to UK and Irish retailers

Mobile loyalty specialist Zapa Technology has signed a deal with AIB Merchant Services (AIBMS), a joint venture between Allied Irish Banks, Ireland’s largest financial services provider, and US payments processing giant First Data, that will see AIBMS promoting Zapa’s NFC-compatible loyalty system to its merchants across the UK and Ireland.

Zapa’s technology combines contactless point-of-sale terminals with ZapaTags, contactless stickers costing around €1 each, to enable merchants to offer a range of loyalty points and promotions to their customers.

Key to Zapa’s technology is that consumers can use a single ZapaTag attached to their mobile phone as their ID for multiple loyalty programmes offered by a wide range of merchants. The system has been designed from the beginning to be compatible with NFC phones so that, once they are in general circulation, the ZapaTags can be phased out.

The new deal with AIBMS will see the payments processor’s merchants being offered a single POS terminal that comes with Zapa’s technology built-in, eliminating the need for a separate terminal to handle the loyalty programme. The terminals are also compatible with contactless payments cards, although Irish banks are yet to begin rolling them out. Merchants with an existing contactless POS terminal will pay just €30 a month to run their loyalty programme, although those needing to upgrade to a new terminal will need to pay an extra fee for a new POS device.

“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,” says Chris Mason, managing director of AIBMS. “We have had great success with our pilot customers, which included a dog grooming service, a florist and a restaurant — proving indeed that AIBMS Loyaltyplus is suitable for all types of shops and services. Each customer, all of whom have experienced the ease-of-use and benefits first hand, was delighted with the solution.”

“The solution also assists businesses by providing information and analysis of their own customer base and enables them to address specific consumer profiles with integrated communication tools,” he added. “We are now ready to roll out the programme across Ireland and the UK.”

Zapa was founded by Irish payments systems entrepreneur John Nagle and raised €2.5m in funding from Delta Partners in July 2009. In November, the town of Tuam adopted Zapa’s technology for a loyalty scheme aimed at encouraging local people to do more of their shopping in the town.

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