The Wafi shopping mall in Dubai is to introduce a new service that allows shoppers to collect and redeem loyalty points with their mobile phone using either NFC or Bluetooth. The service is also expected to be rolled out at a European amusement park later this year.
Currently, Wafi Rewards members use a physical loyalty card to collect and redeem their points in stores. And now, after downloading a new app from developer ViaFone Technologies, they will also be able to do so using their mobile phone.
When the app is launched, customers will be able to tap their phones against a merchant's contactless tablet to accept their loyalty points, which are stored in the app. Customers are then sent an SMS to alert them if the transaction is successful.
"The service is available for both NFC and non-NFC phones," Souffiane Houti, founder and CEO of ViaFone Technologies, has told NFC World. "The data transfer is done on non-NFC phones using Bluetooth, but we have modified the technology so that the tablet only reads mobile devices at very close range — so there is no confusion with other devices in the vicinity."
Shoppers will also be able to share information with friends via social media outlets, receive instant notifications of special offers and collect personalised discounts. The service is set to launch at the shopping mall later this month.
"The goals for all parties, be it marketers or merchants, are straightforward: simplicity, engagement and return on investment," Houti says. "Loyalty programmes can also be difficult to maintain, require a high upfront cost or are often seen as simply too much of a hassle for retailers. ViaFone's new mobile technology changes this."
"We believe the technology delivers a win-win situation for both merchants and consumers," Houti adds. "It is a highly efficient and secure way for merchants to extend their existing point of sale, building profiles of their customers and getting them to dig deeper into their behaviour and shopping habits. It is also more environmentally friendly, eliminating — over time — the need for plastic cards."