One of the problems with affinity programs is that they force the customer to carry a card for every retailer. The same can be said for membership programs- like my Y membership card. Besides making my wallet thicker than a Whopper®, the amount of time searching for the right card slows down the check out/in process.
Some of the credit card companies have experimented with RFID chips in small dongles, “speed pass” etc, yet, this is just another piece of branded trash that’s being forced into my pocket.
In Japan, cell phones have been used to connect to everything from soda machines to public transit, with the billing being handled by the telco provider.
We’re not there yet in the USA, but, a new software application for iPhone or iPod touch allows consumers to carry the barcode image on the card in their phone:
Mesa Dynamics and CardStar have announced CardStar for the iPhone/iPod touch
its latest mobile application for personal card management. The program allows users to digitally upload their customer-reward and club cards, enabling cashiers to scan the barcode displayed on the touchscreen, instead of having to bring the card with them. CardStar contains a merchant list of over 100 companies, with six different categories, and supports barcode formats for most commonly used cards including code 39, code 128, EAN 13, and UPCA.Available categories include travel, retail, grocery, gym, entertainment, and drug store. An advanced option allows addition of cards that are not currently included in the merchant lists. CardStar can be purchased from the App Store and is priced at $1.
Marketers should be rushing to embrace this kind of customer centric use of technology to make it easier for consumers to keep connected with your brand.
Besides, I keep breaking my YMCA keyfob membership number, but, knock on wood, my iPhone can’t snap in half.