Powa Technologies has launched a system that enables shoppers to respond to in-store advertisements by using their smartphones to buy the advertised product.

Called PowaTag, the technology is debuting with more than 240 merchants, including Universal Music and Carrefour. It uses Bluetooth geolocation and other technology to allow consumers to approach a product, poster or retail display and make a purchase by accessing a mobile app. It also uses the phone's camera and microphone to receive cues from television ads, radio spots or public address announcements.

Retailers use PowaTag by deploying low-energy Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, which communicate with the shopper's to detect its location within the store. Pairing this location data with the shopper's transaction history allows merchants to create personalized content in real time.

Merchants and payment companies are becoming increasingly attracted to BLE, which at 50 meters has a substantially longer range than Near Field Communication, the wireless technology used in many mobile wallets.

"Beacon type technology deployed for geolocated rewards, messaging and payments is white hot in North America and South America," says Phil Philliou, president of Philliou Partners, a payments consultancy. "At this year's National Retailer Federation show in New York, nearly ever retailer we met with wanted to discuss in-store location and technology."

Powa did not make an executive available for an interview by deadline.

PayPal has adopted BLE as part of its in-store push, and shopkick has incorporated BLE into the system that powers the company's mobile rewards program. Apple supports BLE in its iBeacon technology.

"Retailers do not want to manage a bunch of disparate systems, technologies and vendors. They want simplicity," Philliou says. "As such, we will see greater integration between mobile point of sale and in-store geolocation reward systems. Although retailers are still in the early stage of adoption of sophisticated in-store technologies, we are going to see unprecedented piloting and testing over the next one to three years."

Powa, which offers mobile point of sale technology in a number of countries, recently received $76 million in funding to expand into new markets and to improve its product offering. 

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