June 24, 2010, 10:21 AM

No more loyalty cards

That’s the aim of Cardmobili, a mobile app that consolidates loyalty card information.

Lead Photo

Cardmobili S.A. has launched a new mobile app aimed directly at wallets and purses. But it’s not meant to facilitate money going out; instead, it’s designed to bring coupons and special offers in, while eliminating the hassle for consumers of keeping track of several loyalty cards.

The Cardmobili app is available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad in Apple Inc.’s App Store, and for any web-enabled phone that can run Java software at Cardmobili.com. Consumers select a card from one of 300 stored in the system then enter a loyalty card number, which then appears on the card image in the Cardmobili app. The system then creates the appropriate bar code for the card based on the entered card number. If a merchant’s card is not among the 300, the system can generate a custom card with the pertinent information.

The consumer then can present the Cardmobili image of her card to a cashier who scans the bar code or manually enters the loyalty card number. However, conventional scanners at the vast majority of retailers cannot scan bar codes on a mobile phone because the lasers those scanners use bounce back off a phone screen. Optical scanners can scan bar codes on mobile phones, but they have been deployed by only a handful of retailers in the United States. So, most of the time, Cardmobili users will have to work to assist cashiers to manually enter loyalty card numbers.

“We see hurdles that exist before every mobile phone will work with all scanners,” says Jeff Seabloom, senior vice president of U.S. operations. “Even with the highest quality bar codes that Cardmobili generates and the ability to customize the format for each individual merchant’s card and bar code style, there are limitations and inconsistencies across scanning technology. Bar codes are just one of the features of the Cardmobili service, but we recognize scanning mobile phones as an important function and we are working closely with merchant partners and vendors to see how we can improve as an industry.”

The Cardmobili app and service are free to consumers. Portugal-based Cardmobili makes money through merchant partnerships. When a merchant works with the company, it can send out mobile promotions to its loyalty members or to all Cardmobili members. Cardmobili stores all information, but does not make available any personally identifiable information.

“Cardmobili’s mission is to support the consumer with an easy-to-use app that is as intuitive as it is useful, while providing merchant organizations with a direct and immediate network to their consumers,” Seabloom says. “Building upon success in Europe, Cardmobili has gained unique insights into the behavior and adoption of how information is shared and leveraged in everyday applications.”

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