In the fall, Techvibes broke the story that Mobeam had a solution for the mobile couponing industry as most stores do not have the proper optical barcode scanning equipment to scan coupons off mobile devices forcing the consumer to bring in printed copies. Mobeam announced days before Christmas that they went on to partner with Proctor & Gamble, one of the world's leading coupon distributors which was picked up by a flurry of media outlets.
To give you an idea of just how popular coupons are among consumers, Retailmenot is the 474th ranked site in Canada according to Alexa where people can search a directory of 140,000 stores. It's estimated that couponing represents a $3.7 billion segment of the CPG industry in North America according to mobeam. Retailmenot is also ranked 133rd in the United States.
The company reports they are working with the mobile communications industry to add the mobeam application into mobile devices and will test the application and process with selected retailers.
Procter & Gamble VP Jeff Weedman of P&G Global Business Development said: "Couponing is a great way for shoppers to try new products...If that can be easier, faster, and less costly for shoppers and retailers, we want to bring it to life".
While many were astonished by the difficulties behind mobile couponing, it will still be a while yet before retailers are truly able to implement a solution just like how near-field communications technology has slowly been implemented into devices.
Nick Holland, a Senior Analyst with Yankee Group said: "The inability for a red laser scanner to read information displayed on a smartphone is not a small problem. This limiting factor is stalling important innovation as the retail industry is stuck waiting for next generation mobile technology to go mainstream. The mobeam beaming solution eloquently fixes this problem, enabling current generation mobile devices to interface with legacy red laser scanners".
For those that believe NFC may replace mobeam, the company explains that's not the case. Point-of-sale technology communicates with two different backend systems: merchandising/inventory and payments. NFC is most focused on payments which requires a new POS terminal.
Mobeam says that they are focusing on the merchandising system to not only accept coupons but also integrate closed loop gift cards, loyalty cards and ticketing.
Adding more possible intrigue in the mobile communications arena is the suburban Boston based NFC Forum, a trade association that helps advance the use of NFC has announced Bluetooth Secure Simple Pairing to take maximum advantage of both technologies when they are present in the same device. The publication can be found here.
Michael Foley, the Executive Director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group says: "With over four billion Bluetooth technology enabled devices in market today and nearly two billion coming online in 2011 alone, Bluetooth technology has massive scale, support and runway for aggressive growth, and we're excited to help developers leverage NFC in the right scenarios".