The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has trebled its mobile wallet user base since moving from a SIM-based model to host card emulation (HCE) six weeks ago, the bank’s head of payments innovation has told NFC World. Support for gift cards, loyalty cards and digital receipts is also now being added to its HCE wallet.
The new features will allow customers to manage and redeem loyalty points from more than 150 loyalty programmes as well as track the return or warranty period for purchased items by interacting with digital receipts stored within the app, RBC’s Jeremy Bornstein explained.
“We started out talking about delivering payment as a base capability to our clients,” he said during an interview at Money20/20. “A year and a half ago, we rolled out our first solution which was a unique way to easily deliver all of our RBC payment cards to ensure that clients had choice in how they pay using a SIM-based model.
“In September, we rolled out a capability that we previously started internal testing in December to migrate the solution from SIM to fully cloud-based. We think it’s been nothing short of phenomenal — it has completely blown our expectations out of the water. As much as I worked on the evolution of HCE, I was working on these value added services also so that we could deliver clients a better experience.
“The performance of our prior version of our wallet, the SIM-based wallet, was very strong so we had a commanding share of the Canadian market. We were incredibly proud. When we released this [HCE] six weeks ago, we trebled the number of people that are using it from our old solution that was out in the market for 18 months. The principal reason why is we’ve just removed the friction to use it.”
“It’s available to anybody with an Android device, it’s immediately obvious how to do it, it takes seconds to load — it’s all just there,” Bornstein added. “We think that that simplicity, the low barrier to entry, is really the secret sauce here. It’s a bundled app so we continue to have a single app strategy which goes a very long way in ensuring that it’s successful to our clients.
“It’s all about placing RBC payment cards in the best possible light. If a client wants to use Apple Pay or Android Pay or something else, by all means. We just want them to choose RBC cards while they do it. We’re trying to build the best experience possible and demonstrate the best that RBC can bring in our own wallet.
“There are things the banks are uniquely positioned to do that no one else can. We understand our consumers’ spending habits and money needs better than anybody else. We can present that information back to the client at the relevant time when making a purchase to help them understand which is the best way to pay for something, whether they should really be making that payment now, maybe they need to be financing or potentially wait. That’s something that no one else can do.”
“The new feature allows you to load any number of gift cards into the mobile wallet, to buy new ones, see your balance in real-time and, of course, use it in retail locations. We worked with a partner that will allow us to deploy 150 loyalty programmes to our clients. Basically, every major loyalty programme that our clients participate in.
“You’ll be able to load that programme in, sign into that programme; we’ll be able to show you your balance in as real-time as is available. We’ll be able to show a barcode also so that you can earn points when you’re shopping. Over time, eventually, we’re going to allow you to change points in real-time between those programmes.
“We really believe in choice. Loyalty is another way. We don’t think of it as currency but it is, it’s a different way to pay for things. You’re not always going to be rewarded with something for free but on the occasion that you want to, we should make it easier for you to do that — again creating this overall ecosystem or environment that you want to come back to and use.”
“Digital receipts is another project that has taken many years and will continue to take many years to grow and evolve into what we need it to be,” Bornstein continued. “This is the ability to complete the transaction and engage with the brand post-transaction. We always thought it was very funny that we were moving in this direction of digital and yet, at the end of that transaction, you get a piece of paper.
“We know that there’s a number of companies that are trying to do truly digital receipts. We think it will be an incredibly powerful tool that completes the cycle of commerce.
“Offers lead you into the transaction. When you’re in the store it’s choose how you want to pay — gift card, loyalty card, credit, debit, NFC or barcode, whatever’s the right thing for that merchant — earn your loyalty points, get that receipt, track that warranty, track how many days left to return and when you want to return. We’re also rendering the barcode for your receipt to the device that you present to the merchant to execute your return. It’s a really neat solution that we’re very excited about.”