Canadian payments and money transfer provider nTrust has begun piloting a new mobile payments service that uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons placed in stores to make wireless purchases.
nTrust is using hardware from Estimote for the pilot. “Estimote Beacons use Bluetooth Smart technology to transmit context and micro-location data to smartphones within range — allowing nTrust members the ability to locate merchants using the nTrust app,” the company said.
“For iPhone users, we use iBeacon technology to determine the iOS device’s proximity to the Estimote Beacons located at the merchant.
“Once a merchant is located, the app allows nTrust members to make wireless purchases using a secure connection to the nTrust servers, via Wifi or cellular. Merchants simply send a request to the member for the amount owed, and the member pays for the item from the funds in their nTrust account in real time — eliminating the need for physical credit cards at the consumer’s end and card readers on the merchant side.”
nTrust chief experience officer Rod Hsu explained to NFC World+ that the interaction between the consumer and the merchant “all happens within the nTrust infrastructure at that point”.
“We know the customer, we know who the merchant is. It is instantaneous because it is all housed within the nTrust infrastructure. It is low integration in terms of the Estimote Beacons themselves, because we can place them anywhere merchants wish,” he added.
“When they become an nTrust merchant, we provide them with, and register, the particular beacons. It doesn’t integrate directly with the current POS systems; when we do the onboarding process, a merchant would opt to get a merchant cloud wallet and all the interactions happen there, so it is an alternative type of system.
“We are piloting with a couple of small micro-businesses that are very keen and interested in using this system.”
Merchants are set up with a complimentary Estimote Beacon and are charged processing fees of 1% — and nTrust will donate 25% of integrated merchant fees to a local charity of the merchant’s customers’ choice. Merchants can also use the platform to push offers to customers when they come within range of their store, while consumers can get a free nTrust Cloud Money Prepaid MasterCard they can use to make payments at any MasterCard merchant.
“nTrust has purchased the beacons and it is basically a cost to us,” added Mr Hsu. “We don’t translate that back down to the merchants. It is basically a benefit to the merchant for onboarding with nTrust.”