Mobile 2 Go: A CSP Technology Blog 2.1

One Shade of Gray--A Security Feature

Published in CSP Daily News

Blog Post: 3:35 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, 2013

ATLANTA -- So I’m in Atlanta at a mobile-wallet session during an NCR conference recently and Doug Kilgour of Isis, the New York-based mobile-wallet sponsored by the three phone carriers, is talking. He says one of the features of the mobile wallet is that when you see a photo of a credit card on your phone’s screen, the majority of the credit-card numbers are greyed out. So unlike when you lose your physical credit card, the ability of anyone finding it and simply reading the numbers is eliminated.

Something in my head began to click. Of course we’ll all be moving to mobile wallets. In addition to a multitude of security precautions (passcodes, card-member present transactions, etc.), the simple convenience of having any number of cards, rewards points, gift-card dollar amounts and on and on can all be on that one device.

It’s like imagining everything we clumsily do on paper or physical plastic now made digital. And if I lose my now digital wallet, it’s one call and everything’s restored--everything. Credit-cards cancelled and reissued, loyalty, gift, prepaid cards, everything restored.

And if you drop your phone in the neighbor’s pool, same thing. Everything restored in one phone call (on your neighbor’s phone).

So why aren’t more people compelled to make the switch? Why do consumers today seem to need the loyalty piece to try these new transactions? My guess is habit.

Crazy story: I’m old enough to remember when I typed out my articles on carbon-copy paper on an old 1950s Royal typewriter. When computers finally came to the workplace, my older colleague scoffed and called it a “glorified typewriter.” Of course, that glorified typewriter saved hours in typing time (not to mention the eventual use of the Internet for researching stories), but it was difficult for him to see the value in change.

Perhaps the incentives for mobile wallets have to build. They have to drip like water into a rain barrel, quietly mounting until we see it right there, in front of our faces. And all we can do is drink.

Blog Post: 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

ATLANTA -- It was a big Ford truck, but it had a female voice. That was my experience on the NACS trade-show floor last week when I got the “telematics” demo at the P97 Networks booth. It was the one with a truck and a car parked around a pump and friendly representatives showing folks how either vehicle could start the transaction.

So here’s what I saw. First of all, a smartphone was involved. It linked up to the car via a chord and USB type plug-in coming from the center arm rest and seemed to be the brains of the operation. Via its GPS, the phone offered the imaginary address of a gas station (of course, we were already parked at a pump on the show floor). My demonstrator then activated the vehicle’s voice feature from the steering wheel and the truck’s female voice asked, “What would you like to do?”

“Buy gas,” my helper said.

“What pump number?”

“Two.”

“I’m sorry, what pump number did you say?”

“Two.”

At this point, the helper had to “get out of the car” (neither of us had sat in the driver’s seat) to press his personal code into the key pad. Then the transaction started, with the helper pressing the grade of fuel and then lifting the hose to start filling up. That’s it. If it didn’t seem so pedestrian it would have been really neat.

I guess we’re used to so many parts of this formula--GPS, cellphones and even computerized cars--that it could never have been anything more than mundane.

But hey, I still can’t wait to try it in my own car. I wonder if I drive a boy or a girl?

Blog Post: 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. -- So why would you as a retailer want to participate in a gas-pricing app? Or for that matter a beer- or coffee-pricing app? These are mobile apps that have popped up out of left field--certainly not within the realm of control of your chain or store, so why worry about them?

A sit down with Anton Bakker of Norfolk, Va.-based Outsite Networks recently gave me insight. Quite simply, he says, you just can’t stop it.

Well, if you can’t stop it, why play at all? His comeback: What if other parties are putting up the wrong price? What if indeed you are posting competitively, but the popular gas-price site has motorists posting two- or three-day-old prices? Bakker asks: “Am I going to join in and influence the discussion, or am I going to stick my head in the sand?”

He is suggesting there are consequences for not participating, and the best a retailer can do in such situations is join in on the conversation. The pervasiveness may not stop with gas certainly, with Bakker suggesting retailers think of cigarettes, beer, coffee and foodservice.

Alright. Don’t be overwhelmed. Just take a breath, and when you’re ready, put your consumer hat on and fire up your smartphone.

And if you’re going to the NACS show in Atlanta, Bakker is putting up a 13-foot mobile phone on the trade-show floor to help people connect with his ongoing message: Don’t ignore the cellphone trend. Bakker will be one of many industry vets who I’ll be meeting with regarding the influence of mobile in our industry during this year’s show, so look ahead to many more CSP Daily News blog posts and tweets (follow me at @CSPAngelABC) on this topic as the minds meet (and party) in Atlanta.

Blog Post: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Part of the conversation surrounding mobile payment is what tangible solutions exist.

To that end, Drew Mize, the COO for Arlington, Texas-based The Pinnacle Corp., sat with me to discuss his company’s mobile application or “app,” noting how the larger concept of mobile payments is a definite trend and not a fad.

“The longer retailers wait, it’s just another chance for their competitor to capture that segment or a portion of that segment of the market,” he said, agreeing that technologies are quickly evolving and creating confusion for retailers and consumers alike. “But while technologies themselves may be more fad because they’re changing rapidly--in six months the technology and payment infrastructure may be far different than they are right now--but the concept without question is a trend.”

Speaking about a mobile payment solution and app that Pinnacle has available today, Mize said the technology is already in the field, deployed by the Waycross, Ga.-based Flash Foods chain. The new app is based on the foundation of Pinnacle’s “LoyalDebit” loyalty payment solution, in partnership with Coconut Creek, Fla.-based National Payment Card Association (NPCA). That processor handles the transaction, which involves an automated clearinghouse (ACH) fee that is considerably less than traditional interchange credit- and debit-card charges, Mize said.

Here are some additional features of the mobile-app product:

  • A “thin” application that requires no additional hardware or network infrastructure.
  • The remote deployment of a software upgrade for the POS.
  • A “tokenized” transaction process with “zero cardholder data.”
  • The application can expand to include texting, delivery of coupons and ties to loyalty programs.
  • The program can be customized to the retailer, in terms of visual graphics but more importantly, functionality. Other options include store locator capability and gas pricing.

“Every retailer has a different wish list,” Mize said. “For example, you may have a retailer who wants to do coupons but doesn’t have a true loyalty program. With either case, the offers would be structured differently.”

CSP senior editor Angel Abcede has been a convenience-technology writer for more than 20 years. Click here to read more posts from his “Mobile 2 Go” blog on how mobile technology applies to convenience retail. You can reach him at aabcede@cspnet.com.

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