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Management Strategies

10:10 PM

Powerful Way to Pay

Smart System's RFID technology allows football fans to score quick snacks and rewards.

Gone are the days of waiting in line for a beer during halftime. Now, with the use of a PowerPay cashless payment device, football fans can go to the concession stand anytime they want without worrying about missing the game. The secure radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is being offered at Ford Field in Detroit, home of the National Football League's Detroit Lions, so football fans can speed up the transaction process between plays.

The wireless payment system, provided by Smart System Technologies (SST; New York), allows fans to pay for items at merchandise stands and portable concessions in about three seconds, according to SST. The device includes a rewards system that offers customers loyalty points with every purchase. Consumers simply wave the Lions' emblem PowerPay tag in front of the PowerPay reader with the RFID technology, relates Michael Richardson, SST's president and chief operating officer.

"PowerPay is a hardware layer that takes the form of contact-less key tags," explains Richardson. "Embedded in the tag is an inlay that has a smart chip and an antennae."

PowerPay is linked by consumers to any of their existing credit or debit cards free of charge. Customers that are interested in using PowerPay can apply by visiting Smart System's Web site or by calling the company's call center 24 hours a day.

PowerPay is not only a payment technology. Merchants can use the information retrieved from customer applications to monitor customer activity, according to Richardson. The PowerPay technology is a suite of hosted applications that Smart Systems operates on an online format, he says. Each of the merchants can control the information about its customers and use it for cross-selling or marketing other products.

"It is unlike the old days when the merchant would have a customer relationship management list and couldn't interoperate with the information without compromising customer security," says Richardson. "We created a repository so when consumers register with us, what they are doing is registering their consumer profile and their preferred payment method," he continues. "We maintain that repository independently. Merchants can study the behavior while e-mail addresses and demographics are never shared."

Do You Want Mustard With That?

By monitoring customer activity, future PowerPay-accepting merchants can send promotional short message service (SMS) messages to customers' cell phones, to remind them that if they buy five hot dogs, for example, they can get one for free. Not only does the technology remind customers to get their free hot dog, but the PowerPay wireless payment device can deduct the cost of the hot dog from customers' bills automatically, says Richardson.

Smart System Technologies is in the process of expanding its PowerPay service to other merchants, including additional sports facilities, but Richardson says he cannot comment on those deployments at this time.

Meanwhile, Ford Field has been utilizing the devices for additional promotions. Customers who use PowerPay at the stadium have participated in trivia games to earn rewards.

By giving rewards to customers, merchants build touchpoints outside of the purchasing relationships, Richardson suggests. "We are offering behavior-based rewards beyond the cash register," he says. "The door is wide open to use this and we expect that it will scale."

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