Recently, I  joined the conversation on behalf of Mintel Comperemedia at Cardware 2014, Canada’s leading event focused on providing insights to the payments industry. Here are some key takeaways for Canadian card marketers:

Intelligent Relevance the Key to Engaging Consumers

In “Marketing to a Segment of One: A New Imperative?”, I discussed the importance of “intelligent relevance” in marketing communications and outlined the key components as being identity, location, relevance and context. According to a Mintel Report on “Loyalty in Financial Services,” only 22% of Canadians are happy with the way their loyalty programs communicate with them. This represents an opportunity for marketers who can stand out from the digital clutter by creating engaging omnichannel customer experiences. I used marketing examples from Mintel Comperemedia to show how some Canadian card issuers are leading the charge through effective cross-sell and win-back strategies and how trigger based campaigns are more important than ever.

Virtual Currencies Here to Stay

Virtual currencies are here to stay according Jacqueline Chilton, Principal, Muration Group. In “Crypto Currency: Friend or Foe”, Chilton explained that there are now 270 virtual currencies available, ranging from Bitcoin and Ripple to lesser known names such as Scotcoin and Darkcoin. Not only is there growing merchant acceptance (last week Expedia announced that it will accept Bitcoin for hotel bookings) but it is gaining legitimate industry partners (last month Ripple announced integration with Germany’s Fidor Bank). There is also the potential for the financial backers of a virtual currency, such as Bitcoin, to buy a small US bank which could propel virtual currencies into the mainstream.

Mobile Payments Set to Take off in Canada

Derek Colfer, Head of Mobile Innovation, Visa Canada, discussed how NFC is uniquely positioned and is set to take-off in Canada. For a start, Canadians already use and see the benefit of contactless payments, so the jump to mobile NFC, which relies on contactless technology, represents a natural progression. Canadians make five contactless Visa PayWave transactions per second in Canada with contactless transactions growing from 2.5% of total transactions in January 2013 to 9% in January 2014. PayWave contactless payments are seven times faster than regular EMV payments, according to Colfer, so there is a clear benefit to consumers and now  that Visa has increased the spending limit from $50 to $100 per transaction, usage will continue to grow. All of this bodes well for mobile payments expansion as the major Canadian banks continue to roll out and improve their mobile payments solutions.

Amazon Payments an Emerging Threat

In what was described as an “alternative payments beauty pageant,” Michael Bradley, Managing Director, NorthCard Inc described 7 of the most creative new payment systems:

Payment Method Founded What is it?
Dwolla 2008 Mobile P2P payments
Bitcoin 2009 Virtual currency
Target Redcard 2010 Decoupled debit
Chirpify 2011 Payments via Twitter #actiontags
Amazon Payments Login and Pay launched 2013 Digital wallet
Square Order 2014 Advance ordering with mobile payments
Coin Coming 2014 Digital card (stores multiple card info on one card)

In a vote, Cardware attendees chose Amazon Payments as the winner. Bradley described how Amazon’s 215 million + account holders spend $700-$1300 per year at Amazon alone, representing a huge opportunity for the company.  Amazon’s Login and Pay service was launched late last year to compete with PayPal and was expanded this month to include subscription based and recurring payments. During Cardware, Amazon – which has indicated that payments is a top priority – launched a smartphone that will enable it to ramp up its mobile payments services. Amazon clearly represents a significant threat to the established players in payments, given the strength of its brand and reputation for security and excellent service.

For all the latest in direct marketing news, campaigns and more, follow Mintel Comperemedia on Twitter @comperemedia.

Andrew Davidson is the Senior Vice President of Mintel Comperemedia.  Andrew uses his 20 years of financial services research experience to provide insights to clients around key trends and industry marketing activity, helping companies understand and react to an ever-changing competitive environment.

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