Thursday, September 4, 2008
First Data Corp., the world's largest payments processor, unveiled its new GO-Tag stickers at the Democratic National Convention in August 2008. The limited edition GO-Tag contactless payment pin was distributed to 5,000 delegates and media representatives and used to purchase up to $10 in refreshments at participating Pepsi Center concession stands.
"We're still compiling the data to understand how many were actually redeemed, but we had everyone from delegates to the head of the Pepsi Center to reporters and camera crews coming back time and again," said Ginger Sayor, Vice President, Mobile Commerce Solutions at First Data. "It was all about sharing information about contactless technology and making sure that everyone has a positive experience at the point of sale."
GO-Tags are stickers that have pea-sized computer chips with Radio Frequency Identification transmitters inside. The stickers can be affixed to cell phones, MP3 players or iPods, key fobs, identification badges, or even backpacks.
Once stickers or pins are in place, the electronic device or personal belonging is transformed into a GO-Tag form factor – contactless payment devices which First Data believes are suited for making purchases at businesses that have high volume, low dollar amount transactions, such as grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, discount retailers, theme parks, event concessions and vending machines.
Payments are made by waving the GO-Tag sticker or pin in front of a contactless reader at the POS.
According to Sayor, transactions take about one second to complete using First Data's existing gift card processing infrastructure. GO-Tag transactions are processed on the same networks that First Data uses for its credit, debit card, and check processing. Sayor said that First Data is looking at GO-Tag as a stepping stone to enable payments via mobile handsets.
"From a marketing perspective, our merchants and financial institutions are very excited about the prospects of mobility and of the potential for GO-Tag as a bridging technology," Sayor said. "And having stickers placed on mobile handsets creates a mobile brand impression each and every time that handset is viewed by the owner, or is visible to other consumers."
First Data has its own proprietary FD-20 contactless reader, but the company can assess merchants existing contactless readers and determine whether they can be certified to support GO-Tag acceptance at the POS.
"First Data also has a strategic partnership with ViVOtech as well as several different pre-certified terminals that will support GO-Tags right out the door," Sayor said. "We want to help our clients transition from thinking of payments devices residing only in a wallet or a purse and get better acquainted with payment platforms outside of the usual mode."
Sayor sees "early adopters" of GO-Tag form factors as "busy professionals on the go who value the convenience and the ability to tap and pay. We see this form factor expanding well beyond the young Gen Yers to include a broader swath of the population."
First Data believes the readers deployed at the POS today will support contactless payments via mobile handsets in the future. "As soon as they [merchants and financial institutions] establish the infrastructure, they're not only setting themselves up for contactless acceptance today, but for mobile commerce of the future," Sayor said.
"We are in active conversations with our prepaid retailers across a wide spectrum of categories, from quick service restaurants to large scale retailers to pharmacies and more, so hopefully the places you often visit today will soon be enabled to accept GO-Tag solutions anywhere and everywhere," she added.
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