Cardfree Enters Payment Field
Cardfree (California) has launched an integrated mobile platform that executives say will enable users to drive customer interaction and to build brand value through data analytics, loyalty pre-order and payments capabilities.
The company launched with two restaurant and one convenience store customer, CEO Jon Squire told Loyalty 360. The company had closed on $10 million in Series A funding in November. Squire added that he expects other merchants to sign on in the new year. Squire was formerly chief marketing officer at CorFire, where he led Dunkin’ Donuts Mobile efforts, and was earlier senior vice president with mFoundry, working on the Starbucks Card Mobile effort.
“Merchants look at loyalty as a key in their relationship with customers; it all comes down to account management,” Squire said. The customer’s cell phone number provides the lynchpin a centralized, digital program that does not require a physical card, which becomes cumbersome as customers join additional programs – industry research shows that the average consumer is a member in more than 18 loyalty programs, but an active participant in less than half of those.
By enabling merchants to actively analyze customer purchase habits, the Cardfree program enables merchants to use personalized offers that will resonate with customers, driving usage, according to Squire. “Our goal is to lead merchants to new levels and ensure they remain at the center of their customer relationships, rather than being secondary in third party mobile apps or wallets.”
Cardfree is part of a portfolio of companies advised by investor and chairman of the board Jeffrey Katz, who founded Mercury Payments Systems, a leading payments processor. Katz also advises Restaurant Sciences, which provides the underlying analytic technology for the Cardfree offering that gives merchants a payments component to create digital pre-paid cards or mobile payments. The application works with most existing point of sale systems.
“There is a gap in the market for seamless merchant solutions that integrate mobile, online and POS, and merchants are going to be a big driver of mobile commerce in the near future. This talented team is uniquely positioned with the knowledge, experience and connections to continue to lead innovation in the space,” Katz said in a prepared statement.
Squire added that delivering the rewards via a mobile device is more customer friendly than coupon clipping. The application also offers location awareness, so that merchants can deliver targeted promotions when a customer is near or in a store.
“What the customer wants is a relevant offer,” said Cardfree Diane Hong, head of marketing.
Restaurant Science’s technology pulls guest-check detail from dozens of restaurant POS and ECR’s covering the vast majority of systems used in restaurants, bars, and institutions throughout the US and Canada. The technology standardizes hundreds of menu millions of items by properly coding and assigning attributes to each. Cardfree is reaching beyond restaurants to offer similar capabilities to other merchants.
Doing so enables merchants to offer personalized offers to consumer, including offers with expiration times. Squire explained that such an offer enables merchants to drive traffic during targeted times, such as between lunch and dinner for a restaurant.
Cardfree will work with a merchant to outfit them with the services they need. If they have a mobile app, Cardfree can work with legacy systems or build from the ground up.