Bringing digital cards to the smartphone market

Published: December 6th, 2010

A Canadian company, Omnego, is bringing next-generation cards and coupons to smartphones with digital card production using its Web-based enterprise software platform.

David Thomas, CEO of Omnego, founded the white-labeled Web-based software platform company last year. The company is based in Toronto and has a U.S. office in Philadelphia.

The idea behind Omnego is to bring fully-branded mobile card capabilities to the global market, Thomas said. Currently the company has a North American channel and end-user customer presence, with plans to further expand its reach into other geographic regions, including South America.

Thomas said the Omnego solution is delivered entirely through channel partners, who can expect to make anywhere between 50 to 100 per cent margins on the solution.

Currently the company has three North American channel partners, including two from Canada, PICS Smartcard in Vancouver and Ilcard Ltd. in Cambridge, Ont. The goal in the New Year is to achieve its “aggressive channel growth plan” of working with “a dozen or more partners,” Thomas said.

The value proposition for a digital card format is to go to existing end-user customers so they can have another avenue to market and advertise using smartphones, Thomas said. Partners can add further value to their customers by offering services such as marketing and offering to help issue content, he added.

“We’re targeting the card manufacturing industry and any other company that wants to market to the mobile channel,” Thomas said. “We believe digital cards will be the way of the future because mobile cards cost less to issue than plastic cards. Another key driver towards digital cards is that smartphones are becoming a mainstay in the market and they reach a wide demographic age group.”

The Omnego software platform consists of an enterprise Web platform to create, track and manage mobile cards, mobile ads, mobile coupons and mobile content, and a consumer component called Walgo, which is a mobile wallet application for smartphones. With Walgo, which is a free downloadable application for consumers, users can use their smartphones to receive these mobile cards, rewards and coupons.

“The system was designed to be run by a third party,” Thomas said. “Training takes about two hours and you can implement and be up and running with mobile card, coupon and delivery capabilities in two weeks. For businesses, there’s no cost to issuing a mobile card or coupon because they only get charged when a consumer accepts their digital card or coupon.”

Once a customer has access to a digital coupon on their smartphone, a business can then scan the coupon on the smartphone using an image scanner or they can enter the coupon code to complete the purchase transaction.

Businesses are charged a monthly fee to use the service at prices which start at $250 per month, depending on the total number of customers. Within the solution, Omnego can also track various metrics such as seeing where mobile cards are being accepted, where ads are being opened and which coupons are being redeemed. This helps provide more valuable marketing insight into a customer’s behaviour and interest as it pertains to the mobile channel, Thomas said.

Sandy Chambers, vice-president of marketing at Omnego, said the platform supports all major smartphone platforms including Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and Symbian.

In the next phase of the solution, Thomas said the company is working on building a front and back-end solution that allows consumers to use Walgo to scan things in print.

“This will be good for colleges and schools,” Thomas said. “With today’s smartphones, the camera acts like a scanner so when users scan the code, they’ll receive mobile content which can be in the form of a loyalty card or a coupon.”

Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.