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    First Data launches mobile marketing service for merchants

    Payments processing giant First Data has launched mVoucher, a mobile marketing service for merchants that builds on existing gift card systems and provides the potential for a full service NFC wallet to be offered in the future.

    mVouchers store a prepaid value that can be funded by either the merchant or by a consumer product goods company, says First Data. They can be delivered as coupons, loyalty rewards, promotional rewards, contest rewards or general marketing initiatives and can be redeemed online or in-store through a mobile device via SMS or 2D barcodes “and ultimately through contactless exchange such as near field communication (NFC)”.

    Consumers can request or receive a mobile voucher through a banner ad, a short code, loyalty program or as a special promotion. When the customer visits the merchant location, the cashier either manually enters the mVoucher’s 16-digit code or scans the barcode at the point-of-sale.

    “Major merchants” have already signed up for the service which, says First Data, is “also designed to support NFC-based redemption between a mobile device and the merchant point of sale as this technology is broadly deployed.”

    The mVoucher platform enables consumers to opt-in to receive future offers via email or SMS and to manage their saved offers and accept more incentives from the merchant as well as reload funds onto their gift card, check the balance and transaction information, locate the nearest physical store location and purchase additional mVouchers to send to others.

    “Innovations in mobile services and applications have catalyzed the consumer adoption of sending real-life gifts and buying daily deals in real time from a mobile device,” says Dom Morea, First Data’s head of advanced solutions and innovation. “As people continue to embrace this mobile lifestyle, First Data mVoucher will enable merchants to instantly deliver targeted offers to their most loyal customers even while they are in the middle of shopping as well as drive more foot traffic through their doors.”

    In September, First Data announced plans to begin offering US banks a turnkey NFC service from early 2011.

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