Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wirecard to Add Real-Time Offers Using BLE

Courtesy of Monty Metzger, Flickr
BARCELONA--The 2014 Mobile World Congress (MWC) is off to a strong start as the world of mobile technology continues to expand. Wirecard, which develops software and apps for mobile payment services, will announce that it will now be offering "vouchers and loyalty schemes" via its use of Bluetooth low energy (BLE). This means you'll soon be able to get coupons whenever you use your phone to pay wirelessly.

Courtesy of Annette Ferrara, Flickr
What's exciting about this is not the idea itself, but the technology being used. Remember Exxon's Speedpass circa from the late 90s? That was a form of wireless payment--all you had to do was swipe a little doohickey that hung on your keychain and bam, you were set (except, of course, if you encountered signs like this at the pump). Apparently, those little doohickeys still exist and are still being used nationwide. It used RFID technology so that the Speedpass reader at the pump scanned your doohickey device and identified your personal account, which of course held your credit card and payment information.

Courtesy of Ashley Ringrose, Flickr
So no, wireless payment is not innovative in and of itself--what's cool now is the BLE technology being used. It can wirelessly transfer data between any mobile devices (in this case, phones) and micro transmitters, known as "beacons," from short distances--no more than 10 meters (about 33 feet). Data can be transferred to a mobile device as soon as it comes within range of the beacon. Retailers like Wirecard can take advantage of BLE by sending personalized offers, discounts, product information, and more to customers. Currently, the most well recognized use of BLE is in the form of Apple's iBeacon, but obviously Wirecard hopes to become one of the cool kids on the block, too.

So obviously this BLE stuff is pretty cool, and will certainly prove to be invaluable for wireless payment services. What else can this BLE stuff do?

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