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Softcard freshens up NFC payments with laundromat collaboration

There has been few payments options when it comes to visiting a laundromat so by introducing these customers to tap-and-go payments could drive trust in NFC.  Since doing laundry is a regular task that consumers regularly perform, mobilizing the payment aspect of the chore lends ease.

“The NFC tap-to-pay mobile payment bandwagon is finally starting to roll, but real traction with consumers will only happen if it solves a problem,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston. “USAT and Setomatic seem to have identified just such a market.

“Much like automated RFID highway toll systems that offer a discount for use, equipping laundry machines with a mobile tap-to-pay system that can be pre-loaded with value solves a real problem, and there’s no more searching couch cushions or lugging rolls of quarters around. Like stopping for a coffee at Starbucks and using a prepaid mobile account, doing laundry is an recurring event and the Laundromat that offers an easy way to pay with a preloaded account, managed via mobile, will have an advantage.

“Operational costs are also likely reduced, as there are no more heavy coins to collect, transport and deposit, or machines to fix when coins jam. I imagine college students who use these machines asking their parents to pre-load and link their account with a credit card, just like their automated EZ Pass toll account or Starbucks app.”

Ringing wet with simplicity
The mobile payments, offers and loyalty program solution will take effect for Setomatic Systems’ new SpyderWash Elite laundry machines that will be NFC-enabled. Users that opt in to the service will receive a 25 percent discount.

Setomatic’s SpyderWash technology accommodates coin, credit, loyalty cards and NFC-enabled mobile payments.

By the end of 2015, more than 25,000 machines will be support NFC payments.

USA Technologies currently maintains more than 150,000 NFC-equipped merchant locations in institutions such as schools, universities, Laundromats, car washes, malls, office complexes and theme parks.

Slow to start
The excitement around Apple Pay is helping to shine a new light on NFC-enabled mobile payments solution Softcard – previously known as Isis – which had been languishing, as evidenced by a new deal to support mobile payments and loyalty at Subway.

In what the restaurant chain is calling the largest NFC deployment in the United States, Subway is launching Softcard-branded NFC payment terminals at more than 26,000 locations nationwide. Since Subway is also supporting Apple Pay, the chain is likely buying into NFC as a mobile payments mechanism more so than it is getting behind any one particular platform (see story).

Isis Wallet changed its name to Softcard, following the mobile wallet platform’s announcement in July that it would rebrand to avoid any association with the Islamic militant group whose English name forms the acronym ISIS.

The name, accompanied by a new logo, reflects the company’s endeavor to leverage mobile to help consumers find a safer and better way to shop, pay and save, while conveying the platform’s power, flexibility and simplicity, according to CEO Michael Abbott. The move underscores Softcard’s willingness to absorb rebranding-related costs to avoid being connected with a group the United Nations, the United States and other countries have designated as a terrorist organization (see story).

“This is a smart move that reduces friction and uses NFC tap-to-pay to solve a real problem,” Mr. Kerr said. “Next time you speed through an RFID toll using a prepaid account, ask yourself if it saved you time. Applying this same concept to a weekly recurring event like doing laundry is a smart move.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York