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Visa, Chase offer cardholders mobile coupons

August 19, 2009

Chasing mobile

Chasing mobile

Payments franchise Visa and Chase are testing the viability of mobile coupons with the bank’s credit and debit cardholders in the Phoenix, AZ┬ámetropolitan area.

The merchant discounts and specials are tailored to match the personal interests selected by Chase cardholders. They will be delivered via SMS and will be redeemable at the point of sale or on the Web sites of more than 50 participating merchants.

“This is the first trial of its kind in the U.S. and it’s part of a greater vision to enhance the consumer’s payment experience,” said Pam Zuercher, head of global product innovation for Visa, San Francisco.

“We’re looking to extend our mobile payments and value-added services and optimize consumer preference and convenience by delivering offers tied to a particular credit or debit account,” she said.

The trial takes advantage of the widespread adoption of texting as an everyday activity by younger consumers ages 18-34, the primary group selected for the program.

Merchants such as┬áChico’s FAS Inc., Soma Intimates, White House|Black Market, Circle K, Macy’s, Marriott, Old Navy, Papa John’s Pizza and Robeks Juice are participating the pilot program.

Thanks to the Chase sponsorship of the Arizona Diamondbacks, baseball fans will receive special game-day offers when attending Major League Baseball games at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co. has assets of $1.8 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. The company has more than 157 million credit cards issued.

The Chase partnership follows closely on the heels of the news that Visa and eight financial institutions have agreed to test the delivery of real-time notification alerts on the payments franchise’s accounts (see story).

One of the key aspects of the mobile offers pilot is its personalization.

When Chase cardholders sign up for the service, they will have the option to set preferences on the program’s Web site, choosing offers and merchants that are most relevant and compelling for them.

This approach lets consumers see offers they are likely to want and lets merchants send offers only to those consumers most likely to be interested.

“The mobile offers are personalized and customized, and customers opt in to the types of offers and rewards that they want to receive,” Ms. Zuercher said.

“This benefits merchants because they’re sending out offers to the consumers that are most interested in receiving them,” she said.

In this trial, select Chase Visa cardholders will be invited to participate in the program by mail, email, Chase ATM and the Web site.

Customers who aren’t directly invited may still participate in the program by responding to marketing at Chase Field.

In keeping with the mobile focus of the pilot, participants may enroll in the program online or via SMS.

Chase and Visa will review the program in the fourth quarter to evaluate the impact of mobile offers on stakeholder interest, cardholder engagement and card usage.

The pilot is part of Visa’s Mobile Platform, a suite of technologies that enables Visa, its clients and carriers to engage in trial activities and develop commercially scalable mobile services.

Depending on the merchant and the specific offer consumers can redeem the mobile offers either at the point of sale or online.

Many of the offers are mobile coupons that consumers can redeem by showing the SMS message to a clerk at the point of sale.

One of the goals of the mobile offers program is to increase consumer spending and create greater loyalty for the merchants participating in the trial.

“Consumers always have their mobile device with them, so they have those offers with them at all time as well,” Ms. Zuercher said. “We have the ability to reward them with statement credits and real-time discounts based on buying behavior.”

For example, if a coffee chain runs a “Buy four coffees get the get fifth one free” promotion, Visa’s network-based functionality lets consumers show a promotional code to the cashier to redeem that offer automatically.

Visa’s platform complements the infrastructure of financial institutions and is supported by contributions from chip suppliers, mobile applications developers, over-the-air service providers and mobile messaging providers.

“From a strategic perspective, we offer robust loyalty programs, and we’re partnering with financial institutions like Chase on mobile offers and moving direct mail marketing to the mobile channel,” Ms. Zuercher said.

“If our cardholders opt in and tell us that they prefer to receive offers and notifications via mobile instead of direct mail, we’ll extend those capabilities via mobile,” she said.

While the current mobile offers trial is focused on testing and learning activities to improve the consumer experience, there are plans to eventually launch the program nationwide.

In addition, Visa and Chase plan to add location-based services to mobile promotions down the road.

“When we roll out on a commercial scale, we’re going to offer the program more broadly and automate some of the redemption that happens at the point of sale through VisaNet,” Ms. Zuercher said.

“Overtime these mobile offers and rewards will evolve to include LBS to deliver real-time actionable behavior and relevancy for our cardholders,” she said.

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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