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Softcard pilot results point to loyalty benefits from NFC payments

Softcard – which went by the name Isis until recently – launched a pilot program in Salt Lake City two years ago and believes that results there offer a good indication of how the payments landscape will evolve elsewhere. These results point to potential benefits that retailers can reap from mobile payments.

“Over the next two to three years this industry will grow rapidly,” said Michael Abbott, CEO of Softcard, in a post on the company’s blog.

“More phones will ship, more banks will be in mobile wallets and more merchants will accept mobile payments,” he said. “To understand what the future of mobile payments can look like, we can look back at Softcard’s pilot in Salt Lake City, UT.”

Renewed interest
Today in Salt Lake City, payment active rates are 2.5 times the national average while the taps per active user are 50 percent higher than the national average, according to Softcard.

The results were initially reported by Softcard at the Money 2020 conference this week.

There is renewed interest in NFC payments since Apple launched Apple Pay recently. The offering is expected to dominate NFC payments for iOS users.

However, since Apple Pay does not extend to Android devices, there is still room for one or more players to dominate on this platform.

Scaling up
While Softcard – which is a joint venture of AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA – was early to the game, having launched pilot programs in Salt Lake City and Austin, TX, two years ago, it has struggled to catch on, in part because of its limited availability, which resulted in a lot of merchants being reluctant to hop on board with NFC payments.

However, now that there are viable solutions for both Android and iPhone users, merchants are beginning to embrace NFC payments.

For example, McDonald’s recently said it is extending nationwide its partnership with Softcard in an effort to push sales and offer more convenience to consumers (see story). The chain is also one of the early adopters of Apple Pay.

Softcard is also extending the reach of its mobile payments solution to more consumers, making it available on Windows Phone. According to Softcard, this makes it the first and only NFC-based mobile wallet supported on multiple mobile operating systems.

“We believe in customer choice – it’s one of our core principles and an important factor in driving widespread consumer adoption,” Mr. Abbott said. “Giving consumers more choice is reflected in the number of devices supported by Softcard – I’m also pleased to announce that by the end of this year Softcard will be supported on more than 100 devices, another industry milestone.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York