News

Sionic Mobile Launches Midtown Loyal, Beacon-based Mobile Rewards, Mobile Payments Initiative

BY: Business Wire November 18, 2014 10:07 AM EST

Source: Business Wire

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ATLANTA–Sionic Mobile today announced the launch of Midtown Loyal, a mobile rewards, payments initiative for merchants located in Atlanta’s Midtown district. Leveraging Sionic Mobile’s ION Loyalty and ION Rewards applications, Midtown Loyal merchants create compelling promotions for nearby smartphone consumers, accept secure mobile payments and reward customers instantly based on their purchase amount.

“Given Midtown’s young and tech savvy workforce and residents and concentration of restaurants, arts and culture, retail and entertainment venues, we believe Midtown is the perfect location to test drive Sionic Mobile’s new rewards and payments initiative,” said Kevin Green, CEO and president of Midtown Alliance. “Midtown provides a rich environment and a living lab for cutting-edge initiatives like ION Loyalty and ION Rewards that can help enhance the customer experience.”

Ronald Herman, CEO and founder of Sionic Mobile, added, “Midtown Atlanta is home to many leading finance and mobile technology companies and is quickly gaining a reputation as ‘Innovation Central’ in the U.S. market. We want to help further elevate Midtown Atlanta by connecting more merchants with more consumers through mobile devices than any other geography in the country.”

Business owners who wish to participate in Midtown Loyalty can register at Sionic Mobile’s website. Sionic Mobile is waiving its success fee to all Midtown Alliance members enrolling in ION Loyalty during the Midtown Loyal program. The technology works alongside any existing POS system, requires no upfront cost or additional equipment and typically may be setup in thirty minutes or less.

Zocalo Mexican Kitchen & Cantina, a Richard Sandoval restaurant located at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue, was an early ION Loyalty adopter and is now participating in Midtown Loyal. Soon, Midtown residents and visitors will download and use the ION Rewards app to view Zocalo promotions, pay with the app at the table or bar and receive IONs instantly based on their check amounts. IONs spend like cash at ION merchants (1,000 IONs = $1.00) and never expire.

“We are pleased to be an early participant of Midtown Loyal,” said Keith Morrison, general manager of Zocalo. “We’ve been serving the Midtown community for more than 15 years, and this is an excellent opportunity for us to recognize our long-time, frequent diners, as well as attract first-time visitors.”

About Sionic Mobile

Midtown Atlanta-based Sionic Mobile markets to smartphone consumers and rewards them for every mobile checkout. The mCommerce company utilizes mobile devices, Bluetooth® beacons and the cloud to connect merchants with nearby, ready-to-spend consumers. The company is the maker and provider of ION — the first, fully digital mobile promotions, gift cards, payments and rewards apps for phones and tablets. Merchants use ION Loyalty® to increase traffic, sales & margins, reduce credit card fees and get good customers back more often. Consumers use ION Rewards® to earn IONs at every checkout, then spend them like cash on anything at any time at over 40,000 retail locations nationwide. The free apps support iOS and most Android devices.

For Sionic Mobile

Anna Stanley, 678-781-3072
anna@williammills.com

or

Kathryn Farmer, 678-781-7208

kathryn@williammills.com

Donate to Nonprofits Without Spending a Dime – Simply Buckhead

BY: Mickey Goodman Nov 12, 2014 2:41PM EST

Source: Simply Buckhead

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Buckhead resident Ron Herman, CEO of Sionic Mobile, has dual passions: technology development and helping charities. He discovered a way to con- nect the two by applying smartphone technology to help nonprofits create awareness, raise funds and keep more of each donation.

“So many organizations are struggling to stay afloat,” Herman says. “We wanted to tap into the growing $300 billion e-commerce market to aid in fundraising, engage current donors and attract new supporters.”

The result is Shop2Give, a free application launched in July that lets supporters shop both online and at their favorite stores, pay with the app during checkout and automatically trigger a 2-percent donation from Sionic Mobile to their favorite non-profits without additional cost. A number of major Buckhead stores have signed up, including Lowe’s, Barnes & Noble, Staples, Brookstone, GameStop, Hyatt Hotels, Sephora, Papa John’s and more. Users select the organizations they want to support.

Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities is one of the first nonprofits using Shop2Give to raise funds for a new house for the families of hospitalized children. “In addition to the 2 percent we donate, supporters can use the app to give any amount at any time to their nonprofits,” Herman says.

For more information, visit s2gnow.com

ION Rewards Users Now Earn and Spend IONs at Nearly 40,000 Retail and Restaurant Locations

BY: Business Wire November 06, 2014 8:49AM EST

Source: Business Wire

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ATLANTA–Sionic Mobile, a mobile loyalty and payments leader, today announced ION Rewards® app users may now earn and spend IONs at nearly 40,000 retail and restaurant locations nationwide. Most recently, JC Penny, Dell, Legal Sea Foods and Regal Cinemas joined the growing, diverse network of merchants that accept the ION Rewards app for purchases.

To use ION Rewards consumers simply download the app, set up an account and link one or more payment methods. Users can then use their smartphone or tablet to pay for purchases in two taps or less at participating merchant locations. In return, users are instantly rewarded with up to three percent in IONs that spend like cash, never expire and can be used at any participating ION merchant online and in retail locations. Additionally, users can locate nearby participating merchants, receive unique promotions and offers, as well as send and receive digital gift cards directly from the app.

“We have achieved a significant company milestone,” said Ronald Herman, CEO and founder of Sionic Mobile. “When we launched ION Rewards, we took a radically different approach by focusing on the customer experience and removing layers of restrictions that hinder traditional rewards programs. Giving users the ability to use IONs at a wide variety of restaurants, shops, big brand retailers, as well as for entertainment, is critical to ensuring an exceptional experience. No other loyalty application allows users the luxury of not only paying with their mobile devices and earning instant universal rewards, but also having choices and control over how they redeem those rewards.”

About Sionic Mobile

Midtown Atlanta-based Sionic Mobile markets to smartphone consumers and rewards them for every mobile checkout. The mCommerce company utilizes mobile devices, Bluetooth® beacons and the cloud to connect merchants with nearby, ready-to-spend consumers. The company is the maker and provider of ION — the first, fully digital mobile promotions, gift cards, payments and rewards apps for phones and tablets. Merchants use ION Loyalty® to increase traffic, sales & margins, reduce credit card fees and get good customers back more often. Consumers use ION Rewards® to earn IONs at every checkout, then spend them like cash on anything at any time at over 40,000 retail locations nationwide. The free apps support iOS and most Android devices.

Contacts

Sionic Mobile
Anna Stanley, 678.781.3072
anna@williammills.com
or
Kathryn Farmer, 678.781.7208
kathryn@williammills.com

Will Apple Pay Pay Off? – investmentu.com

BY: Rachel Gearhart Thursday, September 18, 2014

Source: Investment U

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Analysts predict that mobile payments could grow from $1 billion last year to more than $58 billion by 2017. Needless to say, the mobile payments industry is gearing up to be a hotbed for profits.

But as other companies’ troubled attempts have shown, getting into the payments business is no easy task – even for a company like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).

So when Apple released Apple Pay – a “seamless payment experience” driven by decades-old near-field communication (NFC) technology that has yet to gain traction in the U.S. – investors, customers and analysts raised a critical eyebrow.

With countless other mobile payment startups currently struggling to gain adoption, various security concerns, and only 5.5% of U.S. retailers currently accepting Apple Pay, investors are asking, “will Apple Pay pay off?”

Even the world’s most valuable brand and Apple rival, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), has struggled with its own NFC-based payment services.

As explained in a recent Investment U article, NFC technology utilizes secure and instant wireless communications, allowing NFC-enabled devices to be “swiped” against others to complete financial transactions.

Many large retailers like Walmart and Best Buy have passed on the NFC technology that payment services rely on due to the cost of maintaining the NFC readers.

Because of this, in March, Google announced that Google Wallet users will be able to access Google Wallet Instant Buy using Sionic Mobile’s ION Rewards app. The move will lessen Google Wallet’s dependence on NFC technology in favor of bar codes or QR codes.

Many large retailers such as Lowe’s, Sears, Gap and RiteAid are embracing an NFC alternative that uses QR codes, CurrentC.

The Google Wallet still requires merchants to accept NFC, but the integration transitions the Wallet into QR code technology, which has more traction in retail locations.

“I think NFC has held the mobile payments industry back as a whole,” said Ronald Herman, CEO of Sionic Mobile. “As a technology it just never gained traction here. It’s not so much the technology itself; it’s the participants and the environment.”

Apple’s use of NFC chip in the iPhone 6 also comes with its share of security concerns – ones that will keep it closed off to developers for a while.

For at least the next year, Apple says that the NFC chip will be locked for only Apple Pay. Locking the chip will prevent iOS users from using it to pair with other electronic devices and transfer contacts and files. And potential security threats.

Once potential security kinks are worked out, the company may allow developers to adopt the chips for other purposes just as it did with Touch ID (a fingerprint reader that verifies your identity to unlock your phone, confirm purchases and install apps) in iOS 8.

But Apple Pay should still be more secure than traditional credit cards.

Apple Pay relies on payment tokens meaning that it randomly generates numbers that mobiles devices can use for transactions instead of your credit card number. Therefore, if someone hacks your token number, it only existed for one transaction and your credit card number wasn’t involved at all.

As an additional security feature, you’ll have to verify your identity with the Touch ID before using Apple Pay.

Regardless of the challenges, there have been some payment breakouts such as Stripe, Braintree (now owned by eBay’s PayPal) and Square.

Even if Apple can relieve security concerns with its use of tokens and Touch ID and NFC technology gains traction in stores, Apple Pay doesn’t currently work for the 1 billion Android phone users. And that’s a huge group of untapped consumers.

Sionic Mobile adds Visa Checkout to ION Rewards

BY: Business Wire October 30, 2014 10:22AM EST

Source: Business Wire

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ATLANTA–Sionic Mobile, a mobile payments and loyalty leader, today announced it has added Visa Checkout as a safe and convenient payment option to its ION Rewards® application for smartphones and tablets. ION Rewards enables consumers to link their preferred payment, pay for in-store and online purchases with the app and earn IONs instantly at every checkout. IONs never expire and can be used like cash at more than 30,000 retail locations and online stores, including GameStop, Lowe’s, Papa John’s Pizza, Staples and many other big brands.

“Consumers are faced with an overwhelming number of mobile apps promising loyalty rewards and payment options,” said Ronald Herman, CEO and founder of Sionic Mobile. “The problem is the majority of these apps are based upon upside-down business models that do not have consumers’ best interests in mind, resulting in a subpar user experience and low adoption rates. Our goal has always been to provide ION Rewards users with a fast, intuitive and rewarding checkout experience. Adding new, convenient payment options like Visa Checkout is another example of our commitment to continually enhance that experience whether shopping in-store or online.”

Visa Checkout is a digital payment service designed to simplify the checkout experience using secure, single sign-on across channels and devices using a customer’s preferred payment method. ION Rewards users can complete a full mobile checkout in seconds using the Visa Checkout feature and instantly receive IONs on every purchase. All transactions are extensively monitored for fraud using Visa’s advanced real-time security tools, including device fingerprinting and Visa Dynamic Network Analytics scoring.

About Sionic Mobile

Midtown Atlanta-based Sionic Mobile markets to smartphone consumers and rewards them for every mobile checkout. The mCommerce company utilizes mobile devices, Bluetooth® beacons and the cloud to connect merchants with nearby, ready-to-spend consumers. The company is the maker and provider of ION — the first, fully digital mobile promotions, gift cards, payments and rewards apps for phones and tablets. Merchants use ION Loyalty® to increase traffic, sales & margins, reduce credit card fees and get good customers back more often. Consumers use ION Rewards® to earn IONs at every checkout, then spend them like cash on anything at any time at over 30,000 retail locations nationwide. The free apps support iOS and most Android devices.

Contacts

For Sionic Mobile
Anna Stanley, 678-781-3072
anna@williammills.com
or
Kathryn Farmer, 678-781-7208
kathryn@williammills.com

Fuel loyalty platform adopts Bluetooth beacons – thewisemarketer.com

BY: The Wise Marketer Friday October 24, 2014

Source: The Wise Marketer

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In the US, Sionic Mobile’s ‘ION’ m-commerce platform has been adapted by convenience retail and petroleum technology firm, Pinnacle, to provide a new mobile loyalty and payments platform for fuel retailers.

The combined solution uses Bluetooth beacons inside the store and at pump islands to facilitate cloud-based payments and instant rewards for smartphone consumers.

The Pinnacle-ION system helps convenience stores (c-stores) avoid some of their credit card fees for fuel purchases, and encourages repeat business by providing customers with instant rewards based on in-store checkout amounts.

Using Bluetooth beacons for pump authorizations, customers can quickly and easily pay for fuel with a few taps on their phone handset. Leveraging fully encrypted and tokenized mobile payments, the process is more secure than traditional card swipe methods, protecting both the user and fuel retailer against fraudulent activity.

The beacons can also be used to deliver compelling and relevant promotions to customers, further boosting in-store traffic and driving higher-margin sales.

“Our priority was to deliver tools that can automate the whole spectrum of c-store operations,” explained Drew Mize, Pinnacle’s chief operating officer. “We were pleased to partner with Sionic Mobile to integrate our Palm POS platform with their mobile payments and loyalty platform.”

Consumers can simply download the ION Rewards app (available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android devices), create an account, and then use their smartphones to pay for fuel at the pump. Users then receive an instant US$0.10 per-gallon discount on every fuel purchase at any ION-enabled fuel retailer. ION Rewards users also earn from 1% to 3% in rewards for every in-store, non-fuel purchase.

Tech Companies Woo Gas Retailers as EMV Looms – Payments Source

BY: DAVID HEUN OCT 15, 2014 12:01AM EST

Source: Payments Source

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Fuel retailers may shudder at the potential costs of upgrading gas pumps for EMV chip-based card acceptance, but they are a prime target for vendors offering mobile payments and deeper fraud-screening analytics.

Gas station owners have until October 2017 to be EMV compliant or face a liability shift in fraud costs. That’s two years longer than other companies, which have until October 2015. During that gap, gas stations may choose to adopt other new payment technology to reduce fraud before EMV takes hold.

P97 Networks announced a partnership with Zipline to operate decoupled debit, a popular option for gas stations, through P97’s mobile commerce and marketing platform. In a similar vein, Sionic and Pinnacle are pushing the use of beacons at gas pumps to send promotional messages to customers’ mobile devices, encouraging more spending at the station.

“Everyone will have to upgrade to EMV at some point in time because they don’t want the liability, but mobile in itself creates a much safer environment,” said Don Frieden, president and CEO of P97 Networks.

P97 offers fuel retailers the mobile wallet-agnostic PetroZone mobile commerce platform, which utilizes a cloud-based token vault to hold encrypted data when a customer is using a mobile phone to pay for gasoline. P97 provides the white-label app for oil or marketing companies to brand. PetroZone represents a viable option for station owners not able to absorb the expense of EMV pump upgrades that have been estimated to average about $3,000 a pump, Frieden said.

“The stations will upgrade to EMV because they don’t want to leave any customers behind, but our hypothesis is that they may just upgrade a few pumps, or one side of the pump line, making one row for EMV payments,” Frieden said. “The other pumps would be for mobile payments or cash, but you could give incentives to use mobile.”

PetroZone users submit a four-digit passcode to enter the app, then enter the code again at the pump’s PIN pad when prompted to begin fueling.

P97 is testing PetroZone and will announce clients and an official launch in the coming weeks and months, Frieden added.

VeriFone Systems Inc. last week unveiled RubyCi, a site controller and point-of-sale software for average-sized convenience stores and petroleum dealers. RubyCi is designed to manage various aspects of the fueling business, while also readying the stations for EMV upgrades. RubyCi combines aspects of the site controller and POS system that larger convenience stores and gas stations use, allowing smaller operations to be EMV ready while carrying out loyalty programs and general station operations.

In the meantime, Visa Inc. is reminding station operators that its Visa Transaction Advisor, operating through the VisaNet network, provides fraud prevention analytics at the gas pumps to decrease fraud incidents even before an EMV upgrade ever takes place.

The transaction advisor can “complement EMV” as a bridging technology to the chip-based smart cards, said Mark Nelsen, vice president of risk products and business intelligence.

“We definitely recognize that it is going to take a little more time for the gas stations to upgrade to EMV technology, so this gives them additional intelligence as well as an ongoing measure when they do upgrade,” Nelsen said.

Obtained through an acquirer, Visa Transaction Advisor does not call for any hardware or software infrastructure changes on the station’s network. “The service is part of the normal authorization request they send in with transactions today,” Nelsen said.

The analytics tool looks over “500 pieces of data in milliseconds” that includes Visa’s global view of fraud data and trends in authorizing or flagging transactions at the pumps, Nelsen added.

Chevron Corp. tested the system at 300 of its stations for two months and enjoyed a 23% reduction in fraud expenses, said Chevron spokesperson Braden Redall.

“There were no costly infrastructure upgrades or disruption to our customer experience, which was really important to us,” Redall said. As a result of the successful tests, Chevron now uses the analytics tool in about 8,000 stations across the country.

Though it is not really a part of Chevron’s overall EMV strategy, Redall acknowledges, “It is a great technology for the system that we currently have.”

Visa realizes that the transaction advisor could allow some station operators to wait even longer to convert to EMV, but that is not entirely a bad thing, Nelsen said.

“Even in Canada, which has had EMV for years, there are still merchants who don’t have chip terminals,” Nelsen said. “We see the same thing happening in the U.S. in low-risk fraud areas if they don’t have a fraud problem and their terminal still works.”

The transaction advisor “gives them additional tools and intelligence to help make that EMV decision without being negatively affected from a fraud perspective,” Nelsen added.

Some are not ruling out the possibility that EMV could pass by the fuel retailers altogether. “I think it makes sense for a petroleum retailer to engage in mobile and forget cards at the pump,” said Bill Deichler, payments industry expert and former payments manager for Murphy USA oil company.

Some mobile solutions at the pump could even carry the less expensive card-present rates in the future because of tokenization and encryption methods, Deichler said.

With three years left before the EMV liability shift hits, fuel operators may “get to the point where they might even pull the swiper out of the pumps by 2017 and go only mobile and cash,” Deichler added.

How your mobile payment app can cost you customers and ding your reputation

BY: Ronald Herman Oct. 9, 2014

Source: Fast Casual

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A popular restaurant chain grabbed headlines earlier this year with the launch of its mobile payments application. It happens to be a chain that I visit on occasion, so I decided to download the app and try paying with my phone on my next visit. Once I downloaded the correct app (this particular chain has more than one app in the app store), I followed the steps to create an account, linked a credit card and loaded the minimum $25.00 in the app – at least I thought I loaded $25.00, but the sliding keypad feature caused me to accidentally load $75.00.  I’ll save the experience of requesting and eventually receiving the $50.00 refund for another time.

Now with the correct amount, $25.00, in my account, I visited the nearest location, ordered a meal and notified the cashier I would be paying with their new mobile app.  I expected to encounter some issues as the technology was new (for this chain.). What I didn’t expect was the front-line employee to be completely unaware of the new payment option and even more disturbing, share her frustration with me as the customer.

By the time the manager was located and informed I was paying with my phone, the process was easy and my purchase completed with just a few taps. From download to first payment, the process was frustrating and anything but convenient. I explored the app further and realized that in addition to the cumbersome load and use process, the only other incentive or value offered was to inform me the featured item of the week contained 940 calories.  Needless to say, I deleted the app that evening.  After multiple phone call attempts to customer service to refund my account balance (could never get an answer on the 24-hour customer service hotline), I now have $20.00 floating in cyberspace.

Mobile payment/loyalty apps have been heralded as the future of retail promising consumers a faster, more convenient and secure checkout experience. The intense competitive pressures have heightened the sense of urgency for restaurant chains to quickly launch a mobile app, and the result is hundreds of standalone apps that are lackluster at best, less convenient than traditional payment methods and are often vulnerable to security breaches and fraudulent activity.

The amount of resources and money required to develop, deploy and maintain a standalone app is a staggering investment for most restaurant operators, and the majority yield very little if any return.  To date, there are literally thousands of mobile apps claiming to have a payment or loyalty component. This number continues to rise, so cutting through the noise and actually reaching the target audience is extremely difficult. Even with success in gaining downloads, research indicates that 95 percent of apps are deleted within the first 30 days. With more than 75 percent of Americans now using a smartphone, the mobile channel is a vital customer touchpoint, but the current standalone strategy is proving ineffective at building brand loyalty or increasing customer acquisition numbers.

An alternative approach, a singular, consolidated mobile platform, is quickly emerging as a preferred strategy both by consumers and merchants alike. The key to success is ensuring the platform is built around customer engagement, combining robust loyalty offerings with mobile payment options. Having the ability to send relevant/tailored promotions, rewarding  users with instant incentives and finally, providing industry-proven security thresholds to protect both the user and restaurant from fraudulent activity are critical components of a successful shared platform. Leveraging a consolidated platform enables operators to focus on what they do best, running restaurants, yet still connect with customers and guests via the mobile channel.

Conclusion

Today’s consumer demands a seamless mobile experience, and failing to meet those expectations can be devastating to a brand. Experts agree mobile-driven loyalty will be critical in garnering consumer adoption of mobile apps. The QSR chain I described above recently announced it had completely re-designed and re-launched its mobile payments app due to the overwhelmingly negative feedback and response it received from its customers. Unfortunately, the chain faces an uphill battle to re-gain the confidence of consumers. Fortunately, the rest of the industry has the unique opportunity to learn from their growing pains, and avoid making the same costly mistakes. At the end of the day I may have lost $20.00, but it cost the QSR chain much more. They missed the opportunity to convert an occasional diner into a loyal customer.

Ronald Herman is CEO and founder of Atlanta-based Sionic Mobile, the maker and provider of ION Rewards and ION Loyalty applications. Herman has more than 25 years of experience (ranging from early-stage start-ups to Fortune 500 companies) in developing and deploying consumer-facing technology solutions.

Image courtesy of magic_quote via Flickr. See license.

Where’s my (your) money? Overcoming mobile payment growing pains

BY: Ronald Herman Oct 9, 2014 ET 10:10AM

Source: QSR

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A popular restaurant chain grabbed headlines earlier this year with the launch of its mobile payments application. It happens to be a chain that I visit on occasion, so I decided to download the app and try paying with my phone on my next visit. Once I downloaded the correct app (this particular chain has more than one app in the app store), I followed the steps to create an account, linked a credit card and loaded the minimum $25.00 in the app – at least I thought I loaded $25.00, but the sliding keypad feature caused me to accidentally load $75.00.  I’ll save the experience of requesting and eventually receiving the $50.00 refund for another time.

Now with the correct amount, $25.00, in my account, I visited the nearest location, ordered a meal and notified the cashier I would be paying with their new mobile app.  I expected to encounter some issues as the technology was new (for this chain.). What I didn’t expect was the front-line employee to be completely unaware of the new payment option and even more disturbing, share her frustration with me as the customer.

By the time the manager was located and informed I was paying with my phone, the process was easy and my purchase completed with just a few taps. From download to first payment, the process was frustrating and anything but convenient. I explored the app further and realized that in addition to the cumbersome load and use process, the only other incentive or value offered was to inform me the featured item of the week contained 940 calories.  Needless to say, I deleted the app that evening.  After multiple phone call attempts to customer service to refund my account balance (could never get an answer on the 24-hour customer service hotline), I now have $20.00 floating in cyberspace.

Mobile payment/loyalty apps have been heralded as the future of retail promising consumers a faster, more convenient and secure checkout experience. The intense competitive pressures have heightened the sense of urgency for restaurant chains to quickly launch a mobile app, and the result is hundreds of standalone apps that are lackluster at best, less convenient than traditional payment methods and are often vulnerable to security breaches and fraudulent activity.

The amount of resources and money required to develop, deploy and maintain a standalone app is a staggering investment for most restaurant operators, and the majority yield very little if any return.  To date, there are literally thousands of mobile apps claiming to have a payment or loyalty component. This number continues to rise, so cutting through the noise and actually reaching the target audience is extremely difficult. Even with success in gaining downloads, research indicates that 95 percent of apps are deleted within the first 30 days. With more than 75 percent of Americans now using a smartphone, the mobile channel is a vital customer touchpoint, but the current standalone strategy is proving ineffective at building brand loyalty or increasing customer acquisition numbers.

An alternative approach, a singular, consolidated mobile platform, is quickly emerging as a preferred strategy both by consumers and merchants alike. The key to success is ensuring the platform is built around customer engagement, combining robust loyalty offerings with mobile payment options. Having the ability to send relevant/tailored promotions, rewarding  users with instant incentives and finally, providing industry-proven security thresholds to protect both the user and restaurant from fraudulent activity are critical components of a successful shared platform. Leveraging a consolidated platform enables operators to focus on what they do best, running restaurants, yet still connect with customers and guests via the mobile channel.

Conclusion

Today’s consumer demands a seamless mobile experience, and failing to meet those expectations can be devastating to a brand. Experts agree mobile-driven loyalty will be critical in garnering consumer adoption of mobile apps. The QSR chain I described above recently announced it had completely re-designed and re-launched its mobile payments app due to the overwhelmingly negative feedback and response it received from its customers. Unfortunately, the chain faces an uphill battle to re-gain the confidence of consumers. Fortunately, the rest of the industry has the unique opportunity to learn from their growing pains, and avoid making the same costly mistakes. At the end of the day I may have lost $20.00, but it cost the QSR chain much more. They missed the opportunity to convert an occasional diner into a loyal customer.

Ronald Herman is CEO and founder of Atlanta-based Sionic Mobile, the maker and provider of ION Rewards and ION Loyalty applications. Herman has more than 25 years of experience (ranging from early-stage start-ups to Fortune 500 companies) in developing and deploying consumer-facing technology solutions.

Pinnacle Corporation, Sionic Mobile Partner to Launch Beacon Based Mobile Payments and Loyalty Rewards for Fuel Retailers

BY: Business Wire October 08, 2014 10:30 AM EST

Source: Business Wire

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LAS VEGAS 2014 NACS Show–Sionic Mobile, with its channel leading ION mobile commerce platform, and The Pinnacle Corporation (Pinnacle), the leading supplier of automation technology to convenience retail and petroleum industries, today announced during the annual NACS Show the companies will integrate their solutions to launch a robust mobile loyalty and payments platform for fuel retailers. The combined solution is among the first in the industry to leverage Bluetooth beacons inside the store and at pump islands to facilitate cloud-based payments and instant rewards for smartphone consumers.

The Pinnacle-ION solution helps convenience stores (c-stores) eliminate high-cost credit card fees on fuel purchases and encourages repeat business by providing customers instant rewards based on in-store checkout amounts. Using Bluetooth beacons for pump authorizations, customers can quickly and easily pay for fuel with a few taps on their phones. Leveraging fully encrypted and tokenized mobile payments, the process is more secure than traditional card swipe methods, protecting both the user and fuel retailer against fraudulent activity. The beacons are also used to deliver compelling, relevant promotions to customers boosting in-store traffic and driving high margin sales.

“Our priority is to deliver modern tools that automate the broad spectrum of c-store operations,” said Drew Mize, Pinnacle’s chief operating officer. “We continue to evolve our approach to ensure our services and products meet the current demands of fuel retailers and their consumers. We are pleased to partner with Sionic Mobile to integrate Pinnacle’s Palm POS™ platform with their next-generation loyalty program that combines mobile payments and instant rewards in one application, making it easy for operators to deliver an exceptional customer experience, while reducing costly transaction fees. We look forward to working with the team at Sionic Mobile in delivering this proven, innovative tool to our c-store customer base.”

Consumers simply download the ION Rewards app (available in both the App Store and Google Play store), create an account and then use their smartphones to pay for fuel at the pump. Users receive an instant, ten cents per gallon savings on every fuel purchase at any ION-enabled fuel retailer. ION Rewards users also earn one to three percent in rewards on every in-store, non-fuel purchase.

“We are proud to partner with Pinnacle to help convenience stores better connect with nearby consumers, while reducing operating costs,” said Ronald Herman, CEO of Sionic Mobile. “We understand the increasing fees associated with credit and debit transactions, along with decreasing in-store sales are two of the biggest challenges facing c-store operators. ION is the only loyalty application that completely eliminates credit card fees on fuel purchases and rewards customers instantly based upon checkout amounts and payment types.”

About Sionic Mobile

Midtown Atlanta-based Sionic Mobile markets to smartphone consumers and rewards them for every mobile checkout. The mCommerce company utilizes mobile devices and the cloud to connect merchants with nearby, ready-to-spend consumers. The company is the maker and provider of ION — the first, fully digital mobile promotions, gift cards, payments and rewards apps for phones and tablets. Merchants use ION Loyalty® to increase traffic, sales & margins, reduce credit card fees and get good customers back more often. Consumers use ION Rewards® to earn IONs at every checkout, including sending gift cards or IONs to others, then spend them like cash on anything at any time at over 30,000 retail locations nationwide. The free apps support iOS and most Android devices.

About Pinnacle

The Pinnacle Corporation (www.pinncorp.com) is a leader in the automation technology industry focusing on the rapidly evolving convenience store and petroleum industries. Pinnacle delivers products that automate the broad spectrum of convenience store operations and supply chain management of fuel operations. Nationwide, Pinnacle’s products and services are used daily in thousands of convenience outlets to automate and improve their store operations and by fuel marketers to increase their efficiency in the complex management of fuel delivery. For information on any Pinnacle product or service, e-mail sales-info@pinncorp.com, call 1-800-366-1173, or visit the Pinnacle website at www.pinncorp.com.

Contacts

For Sionic Mobile:
Anna Stanley, 678-781-3072
anna@williammills.com
or
For The Pinnacle Corporation:
Heather Smith, 1.800-366.1173, ext. 205

Sionic Launches new Campaign to Highlight the Benefits of ION Rewards

BY: Joe Rizzo September 18, 2014

Source: Mobile Commerce Insider

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Businesses use many different marketing, promotional, loyalty and rewards campaigns to get customers to walk into their doors or visit their website. To this day it is very difficult to get an accurate metric on billboard, print, radio and TV campaigns, which in all actuality it means companies are basically hoping for the best. However, the Internet, social media and big data analytics is making it possible for companies to get accurate results on the effectiveness of any campaign conducted on digital platforms. Sionic Mobile, a mobile commerce leader providing mobile promotions, gift cards, donations, payments and rewards, has launched a new video campaign to inform organizations about the benefits of using mobile loyalty and mobile payments.

The “ION Phenomena” video is about the ION Rewards, an application that provides mobile loyalty and payment solution so consumers can use their smartphones at more than 30,000 retailers around the country. Upon using the applications, customers are rewarded with IONs. The IONs can be used at any of the participating retailers like cash anytime they want because they don’t have expiration dates.

This is an ingenious solution that uses a device the vast majority of Americans have to offer the consumer and merchant a mutually beneficial arrangement without having to cut coupons and launch expensive campaigns.

When customers use the ION Rewards to pay for products and services at participating retail locations such as Lowe’s, GameStop, Papa John’s and many others, they receive up to 3 percent in IONs at every checkout. But the IONs can be used at any of the participating merchant locations, which can’t be said for the old rewards and loyalty campaigns many retailers still use.

To start earning the IONs all you have to do is download the free app, create an account or sign in with your G+ or Facebook accounts, link a payment type and start using it at participating retailers.

“As more players enter this space, it can become overwhelming to consumers. We created the ION Phenomena video as a way to help consumers better understand how mobile payments, specifically mobile loyalty programs, can be much more than simply a convenient payment method,” said Ronald Herman, CEO and founder of Sionic Mobile.

The company has also launched Shop2Give, an e-donation platform that allows not-for-profit organizations an efficient way to raise funds across the country without the expense associated with traditional fund raising efforts. Additionally, Sionic Mobile will donate two percent of mobile checkouts at NO COST to supporters or the not-for-profits, a win-win for everyone.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

“ION Phenomena” Video Makes Media Waves

BY: Sionic Mobile Sep 16, 2014 10:18AM EST

Source: Atlanta CityBizList

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Sionic Mobile releases video providing entertaining, educational overview of mobile loyalty, mobile payments

ATLANTA, Sept. 16, 2014 – Sionic Mobile, a mobile commerce leader providing mobile promotions, gift cards, donations, payments and rewards, today launched “ION Phenomena,”  a two-minute video highlighting the evolution of mobile payments. Sionic Mobile’s ION Rewards® mobile loyalty and payments application enables consumers to pay for purchases with their smartphones at more than 30,000 retailers nationwide. In return, users are instantly rewarded with IONs that spend like cash, never expire and can be used at any participating ION retail location.

“Recent announcements have driven even more consumer interest in mobile payments,” said Ronald Herman, CEO and founder of Sionic Mobile. “As more players enter this space, it can become overwhelming to consumers. We created the ION Phenomena video as a way to help consumers better understand how mobile payments, specifically mobile loyalty programs, can be much more than simply a convenient payment method. In addition to paying with their phones, consumers now have the ability to earn instant rewards and incentives immediately following each purchase, as well as receive tailored offers and promotions. The video provides an overview of the evolution of mobile loyalty apps and insight for consumers to successfully leverage the ION Rewards app as a simple and fast payments and rewards tool.”

ION Rewards users receive up to three percent in IONs at every checkout when paying with the app at more than 30,000 national retail locations ranging from Lowe’s and GameStop to Papa John’s and Spa Week.  Earned IONs may then be spent like cash on anything at any time at any ION merchant location.

“Buy With Google” became available on iOS in June, giving millions of iOS users access to the Google Wallet Instant Buy payment option. Consumers can now use the ION Rewards app to securely pay for purchases with their smartphones, in just two taps. Users are then instantly rewarded with IONs.

Most recently, Sionic Mobile launched Shop2Give, an innovative e-donations platform that disrupts the traditional fundraising model by offering non-profits two seamless ways to receive mobile donations: first, supporters use the ION Rewards app to donate any amount at any time with just two taps; and second, Sionic Mobile donates two percent of mobile checkouts at NO COST to supporters or the non-profits.

About Sionic Mobile

Atlanta-based Sionic Mobile markets to smartphone consumers and rewards them for every mobile checkout.  The mCommerce company utilizes mobile devices and the cloud to connect merchants with nearby, ready-to-spend consumers. The company is the maker and provider of ION — the first, fully digital mobile promotions, gift cards, donations, payments and rewards apps for phones and tablets. Merchants use ION Loyalty® to increase traffic, sales & margins, reduce credit card fees and get good customers back more often.  Consumers use ION Rewards® to earn IONs at every checkout, including sending gift cards or IONs to other ION users, then spend them like cash and donate to non-profits.  The free apps support iOS and most Android devices.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Anna Stanley
678.781.3072

anna@williammills.com

 

MyECheck, Sionic Mobile Sign Agreement for Electronic Check Payments

BY: Business Wire September 03, 2014 08:00 AM EST

Source: Business Wire

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FOLSOM, Calif. & ATLANTA–MyECheck, Inc. (OTC PK: MYEC), the leader in electronic checks for mobile payments, today announced it has signed an agreement with Sionic Mobile to provide electronic check, fraud control and account services. Sionic Mobile, a mobile commerce leader providing mobile promotions, gifts, donations, payments and rewards, is the maker of ION Loyalty® for merchants and ION Rewards® for consumers.

“We are thrilled to partner with Sionic Mobile to provide a comprehensive payment solution for the ION Rewards application,” said Ed Starrs, CEO of MyECheck. “Mobile payments are clearly the future. We are leading the way with smart solutions for e-check payments and the industry’s most advanced security and fraud control technologies.”

ION Loyalty helps merchants reduce or eliminate credit card fees, increase sales and instantly reward repeat customers. ION Rewards gives users one percent in IONs when paying with a linked credit/debit card at checkout, two percent when paying with a linked checking account and three percent when paying with a stored value account. ION Rewards users can earn and spend IONs at more than 30,000 national retail locations ranging from Lowe’s and GameStop to Papa John’s and Spa Week.

“With security and efficiency at the industry forefront, MyECheck enables Sionic Mobile to provide ION Rewards users a simple, effective way to pay with eCheck in the most secure way,” said Bob Burroughs, EVP of Products at Sionic Mobile. “Giving our users more payment options allows us to tailor ION Rewards to fit their mobile spending methods. We have set out to revolutionize the mobile commerce experience by creating value for big or small merchants and consumers alike.”

“Buy With Google” became available on iOS in June, giving millions of iOS users access to the Google Wallet Instant Buy payment option. Consumers can now use the ION Rewards app to securely pay for purchases with their smartphones, in just two taps. Users are then instantly rewarded with IONs. Most recently, Sionic Mobile launched Shop2Give, an innovative e-donations platform that disrupts the traditional fundraising model by offering non-profits two seamless ways to receive mobile donations: first, supporters use the ION Rewards app to donate any amount at any time with just two taps; and second, Sionic Mobile donates two percent of mobile checkouts when supporters shop at more than 30,000 retail locations nationwide at NO COST to supporters or the non-profits.

About MyECheck

MyECheck Inc. is a leading electronic payment technology developer and payment services provider. MyECheck operates under license to US Patent 7,389,913, “Method and Apparatus for Online Check Processing” granted June 2008. This patented payment method is the fastest, most secure and most cost effective method of processing payments in the US, and it works with the most people, businesses and entities. MyECheck provides comprehensive payment solutions for all payment applications including mobile payments and the industry’s most advanced security and fraud control technologies. MyECheck customers include corporations, retailers, governments, payment processors and financial institutions.

About Sionic Mobile

Atlanta-based Sionic Mobile markets to smartphone consumers and rewards them for every mobile checkout. The mCommerce company utilizesmobile devices and the cloud to connect merchants with nearby, ready-to-spend consumers. The company is the maker and provider of ION – the first, fully digital mobile promotions, gift cards, donations, payments and rewards apps for phones and tablets. Merchants use ION Loyalty® to increase traffic, sales & margins, reduce credit card fees and get good customers back more often. Consumers use ION Rewards® to earn IONs at every checkout, including sending gift cards or IONs to other ION users, then spend them like cash and donate to non-profits. The free apps support iOS and most Android devices.

Contacts

Sionic Mobile
Anna Stanley, 678-781-3072
anna@williammills.com

Organ Transplant Researchers Get a Boost from Mobile Payments

BY: JOHN ADAMS AUG 25, 2014 12:01am EST

Source: Payments Source

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The Medical research nonprofit Enduring Hearts got a quick boost from a mobile payments engine that allows consumers to donate while making purchases at a network of retailers.

“Digital donations represent the future of fundraising for nonprofits, and we recognize how critical both the online and mobile channels will be to further driving our fundraising,” said Sean McCall, president of Enduring Hearts, a Marietta, Ga.-based firm that funds research to increase the longevity of organ transplants, with a priority placed on pediatric transplant recipients.

In the first days of the technology’s launch, several Enduring Hearts supporters used it to spend over $1,000 each, McCall said.

Enduring Hearts is using Shop2Give, a nonprofit payment app developed by mobile marketing company Sionic Mobile and Ching, an Atlanta-based technology company that serves nonprofits.

“Mobile is top of mind if it’s in someone’s hand, which makes it a good donation tool,” said Ron Herman, CEO of Sionic Mobile. “Everything can happen with a couple of taps.”

Sionic Mobile, which is also based in Atlanta, provides mobile marketing, gifting, in-app payments and rewards programs. Sionic’s technology supports a number of payment methods, such as cards,Google Wallet, Dwolla and E-Check payments at a network of about 28,000 merchant locations that use Sionic, including Bass Pro Shop, Lowe’s, GameStop, Papa Johns and Staples.

Following each checkout, the app rewards consumers with Sionic’s virtual currency, called IONs. This currency, which is part of Sionic’s rewards program, can be spent at other Sionic merchants or it can be used to make donations to nonprofit organizations.

“It’s a tool for making an instant donation, kind of like that donation box near a point of sale terminal,” Herman said. IONs can also be gifted to other parties.

Both Ching and Sionic Mobile donate an average of 2% to 3% to nonprofits from mobile purchases through Sionic’s retailer network. The funds come from the commissions the retailers pay for the marketing referral, which defrays extra costs for consumers.

“[As a consumer], you pay as you would normally do, there is no extra cost,” said Herman. “For the user it’s pretty seamless.”

Shop2Give, which is free for nonprofit organizations, includes social and marketing tools that nonprofits can leverage to communicate with supporters, provide incentives for repeat donors, and enable direct donations at any time.

Mobile commerce is a more convenient channel than Enduring Hearts’ traditional methods of seeking donations at events or on the Web, McCall said. “Sionic opens up a robust and easy mobile channel where supporters can donate to our cause with ease and convenience.”

Using mobile payment for donations is more about extending sourcing than it is an appeal to usability, said Thad Peterson, a senior analyst at Aite Group.

“Nonprofits are continually seeking new opportunities to drive revenue, so I don’t think that mobile and online fundraising is necessarily the elimination of a pain point, as much as it is an attempt to broaden reach and increase incremental contributions,” he said.

Other nonprofits using Shop2Give include the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities, Camp Sunshine, C.H.O.I.C.E.S for Kids and Smith Center for the Healing Arts.

Mobile payments are becoming a popular way to enable donations. PayPal supports donations through a partnership with Church Office Online, while SCVNGR’s LevelUp got an early boost from its own support of mobile donations. Shopkick, a mobile rewards provider, started out as the charity-focused Causeworld.

Blackbaud has developed a smartphone attachment that is specifically tailored for nonprofit collections at events. And Danal provides its BilltoMobile payment software to the mGive Foundation to accept donations through text messages.

Enduring Hearts adopts Shop2Give to drive mobile donations – Mobile Marketer

BY: Caitlyn Bohannon August 6, 2014

Source: Mobile Marketer

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Nonprofit organization Enduring Hearts has turned to mobile to encourage more online donations through e-donation platform Shop2Give.

Through this collaboration, Enduring Hearts hopes to reach fundraising goals more quickly, maintain better engagements with existing donors, attract new supporters and create broader public awareness given the wide-ranging reach of mobile. While many fundraising campaigns have tested the waters on mobile, such as the American Red Cross’ use of SMS, nonprofits’ efforts to reel in donors must take account of today’s on-the-go consumer.

“During the next 12 months, we expect mobile e-donations to represent 25 percent of total Shop2Give donations while 75 percent remain online,” said Ronald Herman, CEO and founder of Sionic Mobile, Atlanta. “However, we are forecasting supporters to utilize the ‘give’ feature inside the ION Rewards app to donate an average of $15 to $25 directly to Enduring Hearts, especially during events.”

“Over time, we expect mobile and online e-donations to map respectively to mcommerce and ecommerce proportions in the marketplace.”

Mobile giving
The collaborative effort between Enduring Hearts, Shop2Give and Atlanta-based Sionic Mobile aims to reward consumers after every purchase and to fully incorporate mobile into the nonprofit’s capabilities.

When consumers create a Shop2Give account, they can then shop online at Amazon or Macy’s, among others, and Enduring Hearts will automatically receive on average a payment of three percent of the purchase.

Sionic Mobile also donates two percent of every purchase made with the ION Rewards app available at more than 30,000 retail locations in the United States. Enduring Hearts supporters are also able to use this app to contribute any amount at any time.

Enduring Hearts awards operating grants to established members of academic staff at universities, transplant centers and research institutes for research projects in organ transplantation.

Nonprofits on mobile
In July, an executive from Johnson & Johnson at Mobile Commerce Daily’s fifth annual Nonprofit Mobile Day on July 15 announced a number of achievements made by mobile application Donate-A-Photo, including funding more than 20,000 children’s eye exams, the purchase of 4,000 resuscitation devices for newborns and the restoration of 14 public parks.

Having launched in 2013, Donate-A-Photo has extended its presence globally in just one year by offering donations for photo submissions. To keep the program in the foreground, executives continue to drive social promotions and push notifications and have found one-click links to app stores to be the most successful method of mobile-social advertising (see story).

Social services nonprofit El Centro, which serves the Hispanic community in Kansas City, KS, is also betting on the mobile Web to drive donations via a new responsive design site.

With its constituents very active in the mobile space, El Centro knew it needed a way to engage them via their smartphones but was not interested in text-to-give for several reasons. With text-to-give facing limitations from carriers and not supporting nonprofits’ needs to learn more about their mobile users, El Centro chose responsive design so it can serve the same donation experience across screens (see story).

Given other nonprofits’ success on mobile while aiming to increase the number of donations, Enduring Hearts’ strategy is surely targeting the right space.

“A mobile play performs exceptionally well for direct donations during fundraising events, community walks, etc., where supporters have immediate access to a trusted funding tool and are more generously inclined,” Mr. Herman said.