Proximity Payments Update - Beacon Technology Evolves for Retailers

Amidst the double and triple digit growth in online shopping, physical (offline) retailers can still stay relevant by leveraging proximity marketing and payments technology, especially beacons (others being NFC, etc.). Our recent discussion, “Why should new payment entrepreneurs focus on proximity payments?”, talked about the need for new payment and engagement technologies like beacons in the offline retail sector. With on-going innovation in this space, many service providers are enabling retailers with beacon technology to stay on top of the business.

TruBeacon: TruBeacon has developed a range of bluetooth-based technologies for mobile payments. It has designed beacons for different market segments, including healthcare, data management, payments, rewards, community banks and credit unions. The company offers beacon services to different client categories based on specific needs.

Beacons designed for specific functionalities include:

The Health Beacon, which includes a mobile wallet, insurance eligibility checks and a mobile point of sale terminal that can be used by hospitals and medical practices.

The Data Beacon, which analyzes demographic and geo-location data to help retailers understand customers and prospects.

The Payments Beacon, which is a white label platform that works with smartphones, payment terminals and other point of sale technology such as Micros and NCR devices. It provides an application programming interface (API) that allows retailers and banks to integrate mobile wallets into iPhone and Android apps, supporting contactless payments, e-receipts and offer redemption.

The Rewards Beacon, which includes a module for retailers, sports facilities, restaurants and malls that are designed to generate offers based on a consumer’s location in an effort to increase foot traffic and targeted spending. It can also track loyalty card holders, distribute coupons and publish ads. The Rewards Beacon enables consumers to scan items with their phones and purchase those items from any location inside a store.

The Community Beacon, which is a white-label platform for community banks and credit unions, including a branded mobile app and a mobile point of sale terminal for local businesses.

Other Major Beacon technology Providers for Merchants:

Paypal: Paypal’s Bluetooth Low Energy USB enables merchants to use the technology to provide a hands-free payment option to the consumers. It allows merchants to process everything directly through PayPal's app without the need to swipe a card or authorize the payment by touching a smartphone. Instead, customers simply have to tell a retailer that they're paying with PayPal. Receipts are also handled electronically, eliminating the need for signatures. The device sets up communication between points-of-sale and mobile devices with PayPal apps set up on the phones. It allows the customers to set up their preferences as to where they can be automatically checked in and charged for services, goods, and restaurant/cafe bills when done.

Powatag: Powatag has many functions that help retailers in increasing sales and simplifying payments. It provides a QR code for printed ads that enables instant product purchases. The QR code enables shoppers to purchase products displayed in the window when a store is closed, or have the goods delivered when sizes are out of stock.

The audio watermark on a TV advertisement or Youtube clip takes the user to an m-commerce store through the app. "Touch Now" technology allows online shoppers to skip the delivery and payment information stages of the purchase cycle, buying an item on a smartphone in just one touch. Lastly, the app is hooked up to in-store bluetooth beacons (also provided by Powa Technologies), which allows stores to send information and promotions to browsing shoppers.

Reebok, Adidas, Universal Music, Carrefour and jeweller Theo Fennell are official Powatag merchants, just to name a few.

Yapital: Yapital is the first payment system in Europe to integrate BLE technology to offline sales. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to create a wireless connection between the smartphone and the point-of-sale terminal. Integration of Yapital’s technology to the point-of-sale terminal is powered by “POS card” developed by POSPartner, a strategic partner of Yapital.

Mozido: Mozido, provides a person-to-person proximity payments service using the Bluetooth Low-Energy technology on the mobile phones. The service will allow people within proximity of each other to exchange funds using their mobile phones instead of using cash. The service provides increased convenience for transactions that typically require cash, such as payments to valet parkers, food delivery drivers, and friends when splitting dinner bills, among many others.

Gilbarco Veeder-Root (merchant): Gilbarco uses Qualcomm’s Gimbal Bluetooth beacons to provide customized offers to motorists as they buy fuel. When the user approaches, the gas pump recognizes the user’s phone, if the service is opted. Payment options are offered on the consumer’s smartphone, where the transaction originates, rather than at the pump. As the consumer pumps, targeted commercials play on the pump screen, with associated offers sent to the phone.


Shubha has deep interest in studying the intersections of the physical world with the digital world and writing about it. She is a techno-commercial person, a gadget freak and she has worked at Amazon in the past.

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