Proxama sees a number of opportunities emerging in North America that make today the right time to officially expand its mobile proximity commerce products for use outside the U.K.
The combination of Apple Pay, Bluetooth Low Energy beacons, EMV migration and Host Card Emulation create an opening for different companies to hawk their wares to banks, merchants and other entities and entice them to take advantage of what has become the new payments scene in Canada and the U.S.
Pascal Caillon, Proxama’s new general manager for North America, realizes he will face stiff competition from established companies in this market. Nonetheless, his company will approach banks, media companies and merchants over the next few months with offerings that include a mobile engagement and loyalty product in TapPoint and its mobile-payment platform CardGateway.
“It’s almost the perfect storm,” Caillon told Mobile Payments Today in the days leading up to the announcement. “[All of these technologies] will stir interest [in mobile engagement and payments] from banks and merchants.”
Proxama brings 10 years of experience from a U.K. market that has a much more mature contactless infrastructure than Canada and the U.S. The company already has worked with familiar brands such as Barclaycard, Blackberry, Domino’s, Guinness, MasterCard and Starbucks.
Its partnerships with those companies are not all centered around payments. Let’s take the Guinness alliance as an example.
Last year, Proxama partnered with Diageo (which markets Guinness) to place NFC tags that sit behind the beer’s harp logo on taps in pubs across the U.K. Patrons tap their NFC-enabled smartphone on the tags and the device’s browser is automatically triggered and directs them to different types of content. Each tap generates a different content type and offers customers the chance to enter a contest to win a free pint.
Proxama equipped some 80,000 taps in the U.K. with NFC tags. “We’ve seen quite a bit of traction,” Caillon said.
The company partnered with Domino’s and Starbucks for similar engagements. Customers tapped smart posters with their NFC-enabled phones to receive coupons for a discount pizza or Frappuccinos, respectively. This is one aspect of NFC technology that is often overlooked: two-way communication between the customer and the brand. Caillon believes combining NFC with BLE capabilities creates an optimal combination for engagement and payments.
“They are very complimentary,” he said. “With NFC, there is customer intent to walk toward the poster and tap on it to extract information. That’s very interesting because there is an initial interest from the consumer that has been triggered by scanning the tag. That is then converted into some action.
“That works nicely with BLE, which is more a push-type of passive engagement. A good example is when someone like Dunkin’ Donuts pings you as you come to the drive-thru, you [confirm preorder settings] and your order is then passed on through the kitchen. When you combine the two, you can create a very rich experience, rich engagement for retailers and banks.”
Proxama’s plan in the next several months is to approach high-frequency, spend merchants. The usual suspects are in that group: fuel operators and QSRs. The company will offer banks its HCE and tokenization products. Media owners can expect a call from Proxama about advertising services.
“In terms of goals, what we want to achieve is to go after deployments that reach a large number of consumers,” Caillon said. “We’ve passed that stage [as a company] of pilots and soft launches.”
Proxama will also keep tabs on its competition in the market. Caillon admits there exists a fine line between which companies might be a competitor, partner or both. For example, the company will compete with the card networks on the tokenization play for banks. But Proxama also has services that could benefit the brands.
“It’s really a gray zone in that there are companies that can be partners but compete with you in some other aspects,” Caillon said.