Homeland Stores, a grocery store chain based in Oklahoma City, wanted to digitize its plastic loyalty card without having a vendor's brand get in the way.

To achieve this goal, Homeland Stores began testing and refining DoubleBeam's white-label mobile payments technology, which is now in use at 20 of Homeland's 78 locations, with 26 more stores scheduled to go live by the end of October.

DoubleBeam "was more than willing to work with us to develop an application that would serve the needs of our customers and encompass not just a pay-by-phone function but also shopping list creation and the digital incorporation of our loyalty card," says Philip Payment, vice president of marketing and merchandising at Homeland Stores, a unit of HAC Inc.

In February, Homeland employees in two locations began testing DoubleBeam's technology, which uses electronic checks for low-cost mobile payments. During the initial test period, DoubleBeam integrated with Homeland's One Rewards card, turned on six more stores and solved problems with the usage of the app.

The companies then launched a public pilot, which ran from June through August and involved an additional 12 stores. At the beginning of September, Homeland Stores and DoubleBeam signed a multiyear agreement and began offering the app to all consumers.

"Mobile payments cannot be ignored and rather than trying to play catch-up we want to be on the forefront of what is new and exciting in the market," Payment says.

The mobile application allows Homeland to differentiate itself in a crowded industry, he says.

"As a local grocer we focus our efforts on trying to provide our customers with unique services that they will not find with anyone else," Payment says. "This application is a wonderful way to set ourselves apart from the competition."

Homeland has been offering customers better discounts when they use the mobile app than when they use its plastic card. Customers using the app receive 20 cents off every gallon of gas at Homeland or participating Shell gas stations when they spend $25 in-store, whereas customers without the app receive only 5 cents off every gallon when they spend $25.

The app also allows users to find a store, get directions and add weekly specials to a shopping list by clicking a link or scanning a bar code.

Payment wouldn't say how many shoppers have downloaded the mobile app, but he says feedback has been positive. "Our customers have demonstrated a desire to try out new technologies and are primed to adopt new habits in the way of mobile applications," he says.

DoubleBeam says the supermarket industry presents a good opportunity for mobile payments.

"We were very interested in helping serve companies in the grocery industry because of their strong relationship with their customers, the high frequency of repeat customer visits and all of the great features available via a mobile application that could help customers save time and money in a grocery store," says Ted Tekippe, CEO of DoubleBeam.

"We also felt that due to the long history of price competition and margin compression in the industry, DoubleBeam's eCheck payment solution could be especially helpful in reducing their cost of payments," Tekippe says.

Many startups are white-labeling their technology instead of trying to establish themselves as standalone payment networks.

Synchology is white-labeling its prepaid-focused loyalty and rewards platform for this reason. And SCVNGR's LevelUp recently started creating white-label mobile payment apps for merchants and banks.

Homeland Stores plans to improve its mobile app as it receives more consumer feedback.

"We envision a user experience that allows our customers to engage in even more pre-shopping behaviors through the application as well as in-store behaviors that will keep them engaged," says Payment.

DoubleBeam could soon be working with other fuel-providers as the company has seen increased interest, says Tekippe.

YapStone, a property management company, announced its own plans to integrate DoubleBeam's account enrollment and eCheck technology into its existing RentPayment mobile app.

DoubleBeam is also finishing development on an app for CarCharging, which operates electric vehicle charging stations, Tekippe says. 

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