The Green Sheet Online Edition
May 11, 2009 • Issue 09:05:01
Whizpay is like a high-speed elevator to an enriched payment platform; it provides retailers with a bundle of sales tools that, when implemented, require no technological switches or upgrades, according to TalentBeat, the value-added service provider behind Whizpay.
The service enables retailers using a variety of mediums to combine gift and loyalty services with marketing programs in ways limited only by the user's imagination. It incorporates, among other tools, credit cards, gift cards, voice messaging, text messaging, e-mail and social networking Web sites.
"Some processors in some cases may say we have mobile, we have loyalty and we have gift, but they're all separate modules - and if you go from one gift card you'd have to change platforms to another to be gift and loyalty," said John Moran, Vice President, Sales for TalentBeat. "We can take an existing gift card and layer our applications to it, so that the retailer doesn't have to change anything at the POS."
Relieved of all that data
The reason is that retailers who sign up for Whizpay have all of their card transactions (including standard credit purchases that do not otherwise involve Whizpay) redirected to a gateway belonging to TalentBeat, where they are processed and stored.
Because those functions are outsourced, a merchant's existing terminal does not have to be upgraded or altered to support the wider platform.
"The main thing is that the card number is not stored locally anymore; the cash register is not part of the equation of the swipe," said Rahul Mutha, Chief Executive Officer for TalentBeat. "As soon as the card is swiped, the track data of the card number is moved centrally to the Whizpay host ... it actually connects to these cash registers through a firewall."
Mutha added that, in transferring the job of data processing and storage to Whizpay, merchants also avert the tedium of maintaining PCI compliance. "[We] keep the entire store inside the PCI compliance checklist," he said.
The rest, however, is up to the merchant. Whizpay essentially gives a retailer free reign to devise different combinations of payment services - loyalty programs, for example, can be conducted either in the traditional manner with gift cards or with regular credit cards.
In the latter case, rewards points (or some other quasi-currency) are allotted, say, whenever a specific network-branded card is swiped - just as they would be with a regular loyalty card. In either case, Whizpay keeps track both of the transactions and whatever loyalty program they are attached to.
The retailer can register "as many credit cards as the individual wants, and every time they use one of these credit cards we can keep track of it," Moran said. "We can do rewards by time of day, by cumulative spend, by points, by dollars, and there's others. ... If the retailer wants they can encourage different types of cards to be used, so they can offer incentives if they wanted customers to use a MasterCard."
Platforms for marketing
Moran pointed out that any medium through which customers either make payments or check balances and rewards scores can potentially be made into marketing vehicles.
Where gift cards are linked to mobile phones, advertisements and promotions can be texted or sent by voice mail; where account balances are viewed through online platforms, promotions can be sent to e-mail addresses and social networking sites like Facebook.
"It's a much cheaper, simpler way of integrating and a much less expensive way of developing one-to-one communications with your customers - and your best customers," Moran said. "You're developing some intelligence and marketing to these customers one to one in a very low cost way.
"Most gift cards have an 800 number you call in to get a balance. ... What we can do is put a short code on the back of that card and say, just text for your bal-ance. All they have to do is text once. We get them their balance back, and now that phone is a permanent link. So now the retailer can influence that purchaser [by text-messaged ad or promotion] right before they're making a decision."
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