Mobeam light-based tech works at existing retail POS, gets Samsung’s blessings

Founded in January 2010, a spin-off from Ecrio Inc. (parent company), Mobeam, Inc. is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. Kang Lee is the President and CEO and Christopher Sellers is the Executive Chairman.

Mobeam’s unique and patented light-based communications technology claims to overcome the technical obstacles hindering mobile phones interaction with laser scanners at checkout. Its technology generates new capabilities for existing mobile phone designs, and requires no changes in the retailer POS infrastructure; provides universal access to all POS, enabling the transmission of coupons, membership cards, loyalty cards, gift cards, tickets, and other barcoded data at retail counters worldwide. Coupons can be submitted and redeemed digitally which help in:

  • Increasing efficiency and reducing overall costs
  • Providing more extensive analytical possibilities
  • Allowing superior measurement of campaign effectiveness
  • Reducing coupon fraud
  • Driving efficiencies in distribution, purchase validation and processing

Mobeam also has significant coupon partnership with Procter & Gamble.

Mobeam’s first product, the MoBeam Numi key, launched in May 2010 was a small, keychain-based device to replace the stack of loyalty and membership cards and to accommodate other barcoded content, such as gift cards, coupons and tickets. The company’s first application, OmniBeam, launched in June 2013, enables use of phone to redeem coupons, provide loyalty/membership details, and payments using a gift card – irrespective of the scanner at the retailer’s end. The app uses the light on phone to beam the black-and-white pattern of a barcode directly to the scanner. The customer has to select the card, push the Beam button and point the phone’s screen towards the scanner. Simple isn’t it?

Mobeam’s second app, Beep’nGo, was released in September 2013. It is a wallet app that enables users to upload their loyalty cards, gym passes, gift cards or anything with a barcode, onto their device — such barcodes can be reproduced later in the form of infrared flashes as need be.

The light based communication technology, to an extent, helps avoid direct competitors. Image scanners and NFC may provide competition for this technology, but only a small fraction of all scanners are image scanners that read a 2D image, and widespread NFC distribution will still take time.

With the announcement of the deal with Samsung, and by launching its new Beep’nGo app for the Galaxy S4 and Note 3, the company is moving in the right direction by seeking to sign deals with handset manufacturers and payment processors, as well as offering its technology for free to app developers, thus, helping to popularize Mobeam's payment platform.

Mobeam offers retailers, manufacturers and consumers a mobile payment solution that works well.

LTP View: Mobeam is really useful at retail POS, and integration with various forms of promotional or electronic currency could drive its growth. To an extent, the company’s growth is also dependent on the culture of mobile commerce which, although growing at a steady pace, is still in its early stages. However, Mobeam may have to get into strategic partnerships and capitalize on smartphone manufacturers to remain competitive in an increasingly crowding market. Competitive enabling technologies such as NFC require additional hardware, on the phone and in-store, thus, making Mobeam's service an attractive proposition.