Online coupon site plans to ride the momentum of a paperless coupon beta test it held at last month’s South by Southwest multimedia festival in Austin, Texas, to stage a national rollout this summer, PaymentsSource has learned.

A part of the WhaleShark Media Inc. family of coupon sites, RetailMeNot will use the application programming interface system from CardSpring Inc. to allow shoppers to pair coupons with their credit, debit and prepaid card information for use online or at the point of sale.

When users of the service visit the RetailMeNot website, they enter their card information and select coupons from participating retailers. The application programming interface pairs the selected coupons with the card information, WhaleShark Media spokesperson Brian Hoyt tells PaymentsSource. The store associate does not need to know about the coupon, and the transaction proceeds like any other one; the merchant already has set up the discount with controls such as expiration date through its partnership with RetailMeNot, Hoyt says.

The beta test at the annual festival in Austin involved coupons from food trucks in a promotion named “What The Truck.” Users registered their card information at the RetailMeNot mobile site and paired $2 coupons from the participating trucks. Six thousand attendees visited the site, 500 signed up for the service, and half of those that registered redeemed a food truck coupon, the company says.

The paperless coupon service will not be available again until RetailMeNot tests with several nationwide retailers, Hoyt says. For now, merchants interested in offering coupons for the summer rollout can click on the “Advertise” link at the RetailMeNot site to leave an email address so the company can communicate with them, Hoyt says.

Meantime, RetailMeNot, which works with First Data Corp., is exploring partnerships with more processors and providers of point-of-sale hardware. Retailers who want redeemed coupons to appear on their receipts must update their POS software. Otherwise, RetailMeNot will send redeemed coupons to the shopper by text or email.

The online coupon business involves primarily retailers, a situation RetailMeNot wants to change to also include restaurants, especially because paperless couponing removes the awkwardness that can impair paper coupon use when dining out, says Hoyt.

RetailMeNot will be the sole sponsor of the technology pavilion at the National Restaurant Association’s NRA Show 2012 in early May in Chicago. “Restaurants are a growth area for us,” Hoyt says.

Card information is secure because the shopper does not the share expiration date, card verification code or billing address, Hoyt says. RetailMeNot earns a commission from a merchant only when a coupon drives a sale, Hoyt says.

The merchant-funded aspect RetailMeNot’s paperless couponing makes the service attractive to more than the consumer, contends Scott Strumello, a consultant at Auriemma Consulting Group Inc.

“Convenience-wise, it's an advance,” Strumello says, citing the fact that the redemption process appears to be automated. “This definitely fits in with the kind of things financial services and banks are interested in. The program resonates with banks, consumers and retailers.”

For example, banks can offer benefits to cardholders, consumers receive discounts and retailers should benefit from new consumer spending driven by the program, he says.

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