Posted April 21, 2014 by FreedomPay

Customer Loyalty in 2014: It Takes More Than a Toaster

In the old days, attracting banking customers was easy: Offer a toaster or S&H Green Stamps in exchange for opening a checking account or buying a certificate of deposit.

Those promotions worked to some extent, although they didn’t necessarily create loyalty. Just ask the adult child cleaning up their parents’ estates only to find 13 different bank accounts and 30 different CDs scattered at banking institutions around town (not to mention some never-used toasters in the back of a closet).

That strategy doesn’t work at all in 2014, as banks must invest in technologies that not only appeal to affluent customers — who are the most profitable — but also to tech-savvy Generation Y customers, who are still forming brand loyalties. Despite the differences in those two groups of customers, there is one similarity: The longer and deeper the relationships are, the less likely there is to be profit-draining churn.

When banks talk about commerce platforms, security usually is the most important topic and, with hackers all around us, that’s a smart idea. But a platform can do so much more.

For example, the FreedomPay Commerce Platform can enable mobile payments, digital wallet services and incentive technologies that integrate with live point-of-sale (POS) systems to enhance and expand traditional banking products. It presents a uniform brand face to the customer and helps keep the bank brand at the top of the wallet

A high-value customer typically wants premium service and expert advice, not to mention advanced digital channels. Our commerce platform can deliver that with incentive programs and other points of contact that drive both trust and loyalty.

In addition, the business intelligence collected and analyzed by the platform allows a bank to apply what’s known as “mass individualization” by delivering relevant incentives. Those might include things such as personal savings goals or retail offers through brand partners.

Don’t underestimate the role of business analytics, because the more that’s known about a customer, the better they can be served. Macro-level reporting allows the platform to adjust incentives based on performance – a level of efficiency simply not possible with traditional advertising. Knowing what’s not working often is more important than knowing what is.

The bottom line is the likelihood of a significant return on investment through strengthened brand integrity, customized products, strong customer care and ever-present availability.

What business doesn’t want that?

Posted April 15, 2014 by FreedomPay

New Tools Enable Cost-Effective Business Intelligence Consolidation

More than ever, data is the lifeblood of any business, but managing it can often be as difficult as herding cats.

Most enterprises – especially larger ones – have data distributed across numerous different systems, often in geographically disparate areas. These systems typically have varying user interfaces, which add to the confusion. Throw in uneven growth throughout the system and you may end up with something akin to “Where’s Waldo?” when it comes to your data.

But what can you do?

New business intelligence extensions to tools such as Microsoft Office combined with analytical, identity rationalization and segmentation tools from platforms – such as our own FreedomPay Commerce Platform – allow businesses to unify data and identities across virtually all of their systems, no matter how disparate.

Rationalizing consumer data, then separating customers based upon spending is important because it allows for more effective targeting, whether it’s with incentives or offers designed to increase spending, loyalty or both.

Sure, business intelligence and analytics already can focus on key performance indicators, but a connected analytics enterprise goes well beyond that. That’s because it can rationalize customer identities and segment consumers according to their buying patterns.

And the value of that is simple: This data will allow the enterprise to make more money, which is the ultimate name of the game.

Let’s use a bank as an example.

Banks tend to have a ton of information about what and how their customers buy, as well as their personal financial management. In addition, they have data about how customers use service portals.

By using the FreedomPay Commerce Platform, the data can be analyzed in numerous ways, particularly in shared loyalty programs with merchants and retailers. From there, the bank can send customers relevant offers, such as discounts to favorite restaurants, loyalty points and even suggestions on places to buy items. These will be especially valuable as the use of mobile devices increases.

Given that the platform is both high performance and secure from the cloud to any device, downsides don’t exist, resulting in a transaction superhighway to greater profitability, not to mention efficiency.

Posted April 08, 2014 by FreedomPay

What Does the End of Microsoft Support for Windows XP Mean for You?

History buffs know that D-Day occurred on June 6, 1944, but another D-Day of sorts will occur on April 8.

That’s the day when Microsoft will end support for its 13-year-old Windows XP operating system – the software that still runs about one in three computers, not to mention about 95 percent of the world’s ATMs, including 420,000 in the United States.  NCR, the  world’s largest supplier of ATMs, estimates that just 20-30 percent will be fixed by the deadline.

While the end of support doesn’t mean any computer using Windows XP will stop working, it does mean your XP-based POS systems will no longer be PCI compliant.

For one thing, if any problems pop up, you’re on your own. And more importantly, since there will be no security updates or patches, your risk level increases. Ironically, since Microsoft will still issue updates to Windows 7 and 8 – both of which have a similar blueprint as XP – it will unintentionally point out XP weaknesses to hackers.

That begs the question: What to do?

There are three main options.

• Stick with XP, which means your system is immediately out of compliance with PCI. That’s incredibly risky, given the ever-increasing number of prominent companies hacked, especially since hackers like to choose easy targets. Without XP support, that means you.

• The nuclear version of the answer is simple (and expensive) – a complete location-wide removal and replacement of the POS operating system. We don’t have to tell you how much that’s likely to cost.

• Leverage a PCI-certified point-to-point (P2PE) encryption solution, putting your POS out of scope so you can keep running XP and stay in compliance while deciding the path for your operating system upgrade.

With P2PE technology, data is encrypted from the moment of swipe all the way through the payment processor; that eliminates clear-text account data from the merchant environment. This level of hardware-to-hardware encryption virtually eradicates the risk of hackers to gaining access to useable consumer financial information.

Of course, FreedomPay is at the forefront in payment security technology.

Our cloud-based FreedomPay Commerce Platform™  solution provides the most advanced protection against breaches and also includes EMV technology ensuring that merchants are prepared for pending EMV requirements.

The FreedomPay Commerce Platform also is designed as a one-stop solution for merchants who want the capability to expand their commerce options today or in the future. The platform is modular and expandable and, through its deployment, customers can easily tap FreedomPay’s portfolio of services, such as mobile payments, incentive programs, robust reporting and analytics.

Like it or not, IT has to be a priority for every business these days. There’s too much on the line financially to think otherwise.

Posted April 01, 2014 by FreedomPay

A Salad or a Cheeseburger? Employee Health Decisions That Benefit You, Too

With such a health-focused society, it’s almost impossible not to be conscious of your wellness. It’s everywhere. Calories are listed next to menu items, you can buy just about anything organic and high-end supermarkets have dedicated their entire mission to health.

While health is king, the modern-day workforce is stressed out, over worked and often suffers from preventable health issues, which can impact an employer through missed deadlines, lower profit margins and more.

However, by instating an incentives program, both employers and their workers can benefit from healthier lifestyles.

Companies that establish wellness programs not only encourage employees to make healthier decisions, but can drive better overall well-being. Additionally, studies have shown that an employer can expect a $3-6 return on investment for every dollar spent on an employee wellness program. Yes, that’s you, and that’s a handsome reward.

To start capitalizing on the benefits of a healthier workforce, here are a few ways employers can use an incentives program to help their employees make healthier decisions.

1. Customizable incentives:
For example, adjust prices to sway employees to buy the healthier option. Say a bag of chips is $1.50 and an apple or banana is .50 cents. Which do you think they’ll choose?

2. Intelligence for success:
Tracking the success of various incentives among workers ensures that the most effective offers are used. Maybe office cafeteria discounts are proving that just a change in diet isn’t enough. You may need to up the ante to ensure employees take the healthier option. Adding a point system where employees can redeem points for a gift card, gym membership or even an extra vacation day could tip the scales. It’s all up to you.

3. Simplicity and speed:
Programs can be paired with a stored-value solution so employees can pay for food in the cafeteria vending machine or coffee shop directly from their ID card. A kiosk also can be integrated so that it’s simple for employees to replenish the value on their cards.

While incentives programs offer great benefits to employees, they benefit employers just as much, if not more. Healthcare costs can be lowered, sick days can go unused and employees might stick around the office for lunch, instead of taking an hour — or maybe more — to eat at a local restaurant.

Sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it?