Wednesday, February 26, 2014

BLE for More Than Just IOU

Courtesy of eric chan, Flickr
BARCELONA--The newest plaything coming out of the 2014 Mobile World Congress for wireless payment providers like Wirecard is Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology. Users can pay without cash or credit card simply by swiping their phones at a scanner, which detects each user's individual account and automatically accesses their credit card information. BLE uses beacons to scan or transmit to your mobile phone once you are within a close enough range.

While BLE will likely prove useful for payment and banking services, advertisers and marketers are also taking note. BLE provides retailers with an opportunity to scan shoppers' phones, identify personal information such as payment history, and then send highly targeted ads, coupons, or announcements to those shoppers--all in real time. 

Minority Report (2002), Twentieth Century Fox
Sound like something out of a movie? Well, it is, kinda. Comparisons to the film Minority Report abound--a store might well recognize you as soon as you walk through the doors. American Eagle as well as other retailers are already using BLE and beacon technology like Apple's iBeacon to draw customers into their stores and get them to browse by offering coupons or discounts. Even MetLife Stadium used beacon technology during this year's Superbowl:
Fans walking down Broadway received messages such as -- "Get your picture taken with the Lombardi Trophy, located between 43rd and 44th streets on Broadway". Other messages alerted users to merchandise at nearby kiosks as they walked through MetLife.
MLB will be implementing iBeacons in at least 20 stadiums by March, so be on the lookout for a coupon to get your peanuts and Cracker Jack.

In addition, iBeacon and other beacon technologies can be used for other proximity marketing such as hands-free check-ins and in-store mapping and navigation.

No battery sucking, no hokey-pokeying.
Courtesy of Aquila, Flickr
One great aspect of BLE technology is that it links devices "in a way that doesn't drain your battery-life like an unstoppable vampiric force." This makes BLE technology easy to swallow for consumers. Additionally, beacon technologies require little effort on the part of the consumer as they don't have to "scan, tap, bump, or do the hokey pokey in order to engage with a Bluetooth beacon."

BLE also trumps GPS technology as it offers more accuracy inside buildings, especially in regard to individual people. BLE is also relatively cheap, as it will cost large retailers only a couple thousand dollars to outfit its space with enough beacons to keep track of its customers.

Just a thousand or two smackeroos and stores will be able to read your phone like a book...or will they?

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