We’ve seen some notable developments around mobile payments that turn handsets effectively into credit cards, credit card processors, reward point aggregators, and more. A new product out today could see the ranks of these services swell even larger: mobile marketing company Placecast is launching ShopAlerts Wallet, an HTML5-based, white-label service combining local offers and payments, which it wants to sell on to credit card companies, carriers and retailers to develop their own mobile payment wallets and loyalty services.
PlaceCast says that this is service is the first of its kind, in that it ties location-based offers (the service Placecast is best known for) to mobile payments in a “turnkey”, plug-and-play solution. Based on HTML5, the service works across all smartphone platforms, and is potentially easier to implement and use than a native app: “There’s no app to build for marketers, and no app for consumers to download,” the company says.
This represents a change in focus for Placecast, which has up to now made its name around location-based offer services. These are also delivered in a white-label service, with clients including O2, the UK mobile operator, as well as the U.S. mall operator DDR. Earlier this month Placecast announced that this service had reached 10 million active users who have opted in to receive offers.
Although Placecast is not announcing any customers for its new mobile wallet service, it seems its existing customer base might good bet for who might be the first to roll out a service on the platform.
Those that already have native payment or loyalty apps in place can add more functionality using Placecast’s APIs; those coming new into payments can build web-based solutions grom the ground up, or re-skin the mobile wallet app created by Placecast itself.
Blair Swedeen, the SVP for strategy and business development at Placecast, says that there are several front and back-end features that come with using its new mobile wallet service: included is the ability to manage how you market the service to users through push notifications, as well as analytics reporting on how it is used. He notes that the wallet plugs into any payment processor — something that Placecast itself will not handle. Payments, however, are not totally seamless: they can be made at the point of sale if a device is NFC-enabled or if the app has been linked up with carrier biling. But if there is no NFC, or carrier billing enabled, then its back to swiping a credit card.
For consumers, the idea is to get to the point of making a mobile purchase from location-based discovery. You are near a good offer or product being pushed to you; and now you can go and buy it right away with the touch of a button. Placecast says that its wallet will be able to integrate with services that help manage gift cards, tickets and other non-physical items.
Such a service might sound a little familiar: aggregating redemptions for tickets, loyalty cards and other non-physical goods is what Apple is doing with its own Passbook service, with other platforms are also moving in the same direction. It remains to be seen whether a non-native approach like Placecast’s, which puts more power into the hands of carriers, brands and card companies will win out over those that may be more limited in platform applicability, but far more connected when it comes to smooth operation, app integration and, crucially, payment details for the handset users in question.