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Mercury advances in mobile world

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Bridgette Simplicio waits for her loyalty discount to be applied to her purchase by Sunie Silva at the Twilight Cafe in the Durango Tech Center. Twilight Cafe is the first business to use Mercury Payment Systems new MercuryLoyalty program, which allows customers to be part of a company’s loyalty program using their cellphones instead of the more traditional loyalty cards.

By Jordyn Dahl Herald staff writer

Mobile phones have driven constant technological innovation, and consumers are now using the devices for everything from texting to updating their social-media accounts and watching videos.

One local company has taken that innovation a step further and created a system that allows consumers’ mobile phones to be used as loyalty reward cards.

Mercury, formerly called Mercury Payment Systems, launched MercuryLoyalty on Friday after acquiring Sundrop Mobile, a Florida-based mobile marketing company. It is the first acquisition the credit-card processing company has made.

MercuryLoyalty allows customers to sign in at point-of-sale systems, such as cash registers, using their phone and be rewarded for their transaction. To sign up, customers put their phone number in the business’ system, and they can then choose how much interaction they want with the company.

“It helps merchants increase revenue by engaging and rewarding their best customers,” said Jan Owen, Mercury’s spokeswoman. “You don’t have to have a bunch of cards in your wallet, so as a consumer that’s cool.”

The system went through beta testing with Yogurtini, a national frozen-yogurt company.

It has been a success so far for a Denver store that was one of the first to try out the new program, said Trevor Predhome, general manager of the store.

The system is designed for small- to medium-sized businesses that don’t have access to card-less loyalty programs because the systems large companies and grocery stores use are expensive, said Mercury CEO Matt Taylor.

“We’re leveling the playing field for small businesses,” he said. “Our goal is to integrate technology to make it easy for small businesses to get access and get the program started.”

Businesses pay a monthly fee and messaging fees for the system, so the more frequently a business messages customers, the more it costs.

A business can get started for about $50 a month, and a successful program can run for about $100 a month, Taylor said.

Businesses do not need to have Mercury’s payment system in order to get MercuryLoyalty.

While no local businesses have signed up for the system yet, Mercury is hoping to get a wider customer base at the Retail Now 2012 conference in Las Vegas that ends today.

It’s a big step for Mercury, but this could be just the beginning for the way consumers use their mobile devices.

Taylor said he thinks that within the next five years, the plastic credit card will go the way of the dodo bird in favor of using mobile devices to pay for products, and that’s exactly what Mercury is working toward.

“(MercuryLoyalty) is a big step forward into getting into the mobile consumer industry,” he said. “I firmly believe that consumer’s mobile device will begin to act as a payment device. There is no standard for that technology. It’s a race to standardization.”

jdahl@durangoherald.com

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