Category: Loyalty Marketing

WI-FI Terminals: A Twofer for Pay at the Table


U.S. pay at the table restaurants continue to refuse to comply with EMV, primarily because of the lack of perceived EMV risks related to restaurant chargebacks and terminal cost. One of the key concepts of EMV was that the customer would never let the payment card out of sight (to copy the PAN and four-digit identifier). Today when you dine at a Canadian or European pay at the table restaurant, the waiter brings an EMV compliant Wi-Fi terminal to the table and sets it in front of the customer.  The customer reviews the total, adds a tip, and then pays with a chip card or NFC mobile wallet on the phone. Why won’t the U.S. restaurants comply?  If EMV is not enough to convince U.S. pay at the table restaurants to invest in WI-FI terminals, might a solution that increases spend, frequency and profits be the tipping point?

Pay at the table restaurants certainly understand that 80% of their revenue comes from 20% of their customers, and as a result it is imperative to know and engage with their best customers. But loyalty at pay at the table restaurants has never caught on. While a loyalty identifier can be tracked at a payment counter, pay at the table does not have that convenience.  Loyalty is also hard for pay at the table because of the awkwardness of asking a patron to enroll and redeeming a reward in front of guests.

New terminal applications now enable WI-FI payment terminals to become “Loyalty Engagement Devices.” With a loyalty enabled terminal, the patron’s own payment card seamlessly and discreetly becomes the loyalty identifier. Here is how it works. When the WI-FI terminal is taken to the table, the patron pays as normal.  If the payment card is not recognized in the merchant’s loyalty program, the terminal screen automatically and discreetly prompts the patron to enroll with a mobile number and agree to terms. The patron never needs to download an App, carry another card, print off a reward or offer, or even embarrassingly mention the reward to the waiter. On future visits, the customer pays normally with the enrolled card, and points are automatically earned and rewards automatically redeemed. Loyalty status text messages are automatically sent, engaging the loyal patron even further.

With a modest investment in a WI-FI loyalty engagement terminal, pay at the table restaurants can now deliver an easy, automatic, discreet, and engaging card-linked loyalty program to their patrons. Once enrolled on the WI-FI terminal, loyalty just happens. And so, does EMV compliance.  A Twofer if you will.

We will be demoing vPromos’ vLoyalty Solution at Money 2020  at the Verifone booth next week.  Please come by and check it out. You can reach me at





Part 2: Why Terminal Integrated Card-Linked Loyalty is the Holy Grail

36086683 - bread and wine holy communion sign symbol
Holy Grail

In my last post Part 1. It’s the Wine, not the Vessel that Matters; Why Mobile Wallets Failed, I explained that the mobile wallet players were playing the wrong game because:

  1.   Credit cards work perfectly fine for payment; and
  2.   Mobile wallets are just a novelty so long as customers have to ask if the store accepts mobile payments.

After further thought, the vessel does matter, especially if you have found the Holy Grail.  In this vessel analogy, a merchant loyalty program is the wine that merchants offer, so their customers will:

1.    Give up personal information e.g. mobile number

2.   Be marketed to e.g. text message loyalty updates

3.   Be loyal and not shop competitors.

The Holy Grail is the vessel that will seamlessly and automatically make this happen.

While a Starbucks customer may download the Starbucks App, they are not downloading an App for smaller merchants.

Loyalty enrollment, tracking and engagement must be simple, seamless, and automatic, and that is what terminal integrated card-linking excels at.

Terminal integrated card-linked loyalty allows the customer to link her own payment card (credit or debit) already in her leather wallet, to the merchant’s loyalty program, so that every time payment is made, loyalty points are automatically earned and rewards automatically redeemed, at the terminal.

Terminal integrated card-linked loyalty allows the merchant to easily enroll its own customers in its own loyalty program, at the terminal, by linking the payment card with the customer’s mobile number. And there is no App or mobile wallet needed.

Terminal integrated card-linked loyalty makes it possible for small and large businesses to offer their customers the most advanced, automated and easy loyalty solution in the market place.  And that is the Holy Grail.

Have you implemented the Holy Grail in your business?

Part 1.  Its the Wine, not the Vessel that Matters; Why Mobile Wallets Failed

Part 1. Its the Wine, not the Vessel that Matters; Why Mobile Wallets Failed

On November 16, 2010, T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T formed ISIS (Softcard), in order to enter the mobile wallet space, initiating the mobile wallet war.  Google had its wallet, banks were building their own, and many tier one merchants had no interest in paying or sharing their data with the mobile carriers or Google. Then ApplePay came along and everyone said ApplePay had figured it out and would win the war. The problem with mobile wallets is that the war was initially fought by firms trying to fix a problem that did not exist and not knowing what they were really fighting for, payment integrated marketing.

As of July 2016 all of the mobile wallets lost the war.  After BILLIONS of dollars spent (Soft Card ~ $800MM,  Google Wallet $1 billion+…) and little consumer or merchant adoption, 

  • Google Wallet initially stumbled because the carriers would not let Google Wallet get on their phones to compete with the carriers’ Softcard solution;
  • Softcard failed and ended up selling its assets to Google;
  • MCX laid off half its force (~40 people) and pivoted, letting much bigger and richer players battle for the consumer, and letting each retailer pursue its own wallet solution;   and
  • Apple has made little traction with consumers.

Why did mobile wallets fail? One reason is mobile wallets are not easy.  Consumers have to:

  1. Set up a payment card in the mobile wallet;
  2. Learn a new behavior (pay with phone instead of card); and
  3. Make sure the merchant location accepts mobile payments

Right there, with those seemingly simple steps, the mobile wallet lost 99% of consumers. Mobile wallets failed because payments is NOT broken for consumers. Payments may be terrible for retailers because of the fees, but consumers are covered with their ubiquitous plastic that works everywhere and is easy to use. 

But why were these battlers fighting with mobile wallets in the first place?  These firms focused on the vessel, and not what was in the vessel.  Payment integrated marketing, offers and loyalty tied to the customer’s payment method, is what matters.  But payment integrated marketing will not work if only 1% of consumers have access to it.  But there is a solution, and it exists today.  The Holy Grail (vessel) capable of powering  payment integrated marketing is the ubiquitous plastic that works everywhere and is easy to use; the customer’s own credit card.

Part 2. Why Card Linking is the Holy Grail.