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Two Restaurants Launch Mobibucks Mobile Marketing And Payment Service

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Diners at Field of Greens and VooDoo BBQ & Grill may receive discount coupons and eventually may pay for purchases through Mobibucks Corp.’s mobile marketing and payment service under a deal Mobibucks announced with the two restaurants March 21.

Mobibucks, which supports a prepaid service for making purchases using a mobile-phone number, is free for consumers and works on any type of mobile phone.

Both West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Field of Greens and VooDoo BBQ & Grill, of Baton Rouge, La., initially are offering the mobile-based coupons, but eventually their relationship with Mobibucks will “evolve into a mobile prepaid and rewards-based program enabling consumers to pay for purchases and redeem rewards with their mobile phone number and a four-digit PIN,” Michelle Pellerin, Mobibucks vice president of business development, tells PaymentsSource.

Field of Greens is offering the service at its location if West Palm Beach, and VooDoo BBQ & Grill is offering it at two restaurant locations in Louisiana. Others using the service include five Tomatina restaurants in California, two Pizza Schmizza restaurants in Oregon and a Quiznos restaurant in Bellevue, Wash.

Consumers sign up for Louisville, Ky.-based Mobibucks’ prepaid debit account on the company’s website by entering their mobile phone number and selecting a PIN they also will use to redeem coupons and to pay for purchases.

Mobibucks will send them a text message containing a confirmation code to complete the registration process, after which they will receive a free $5 Mobibucks coupon that confirms enrollment.

Users may add funds to their free account either online or at participating merchants using credit and debit cards or through a checking account they link to their Mobibucks account.

Accountholders also may use cash to add funds to their account at any Mobibucks participating merchant, and they may send funds to other consumers from their online account.

Consumers receive coupons through a text message. They may redeem them or pay for their purchase, if the retailer supports that function, by entering their mobile phone number and PIN into a Mobibucks keypad either integrated into a merchant’s point-of-sale terminal or from a separate keypad that connects to a merchant’s terminal through a USB port.

Consumers pay nothing to redeem coupons or make purchases, but they may have to pay standard text-messaging rates, depending on their cell-phone plan, Pellerin says.

Participating merchants may integrate Mobibucks’ service within their own point-of-sale terminals or use a payment terminal specifically designed for Mobibucks and a separate Mobibucks keypad, Pellerin says.

Mobibucks offers merchants three Hypercom-manufactured terminals, including the Mobipay 700, which is the integrated version; the Mobipay 600, which includes the separate keypad; and the Mobipay 400 for merchants with a standalone credit card terminal.

Mobibucks’ system links directly to merchants’ point-of-sale systems through their existing communication configurations, such as Internet protocol or traditional phone-line connections, Pellerin explains.

Mobibucks’s pricing to use the service and to integrate or purchase the terminal varies by individual merchant, Pellerin says.

The company also is hoping to make its service global. Last year it inked a deal with Emirates Net Systems LLC, which will support Mobibucks’ growth in the United Arab Emirates and North Africa (see story).

Mobibucks’ service may not be the most sophisticated, but “it certainly is convenient and will most likely work for smaller purchases,” says Megan Bramlette, director of knowledge management at Auriemma Consulting Group. Moreover, consumers do not have to download anything extra to use the service, she adds.

But there still needs to be critical mass. Indeed, “if you bring consumers, merchants will come, but you need to bring a lot of consumers,” says Todd Ablowitz, president of Centennial, Colo.-based Double Diamond Group LLC.

But explaining what consumers must do to redeem a coupon or make a purchase may pose a challenge because many consumers are not used to entering their mobile phone number plus a PIN to make a purchase or redeem a coupon, Ablowitz says.

Challenges aside, “mobile-based marketing and payment services are the way to go,” Ablowitz says. Though more companies launching services, it still remains to be seen which models will receive the most traction, he contends.

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