Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Japan Railways announce plans for mobile loyalty point scheme

Yesterday, Japan Railways East (JR East) announced that they are planning to launch a mobile based loyalty point scheme next June to compliment their mobile RFID electronic ticketing and e-cash system, Suica.

JR East has been quick to embrace the opportunities offered by the increasing penetration of IC-chip embedded mobile phones in Japan. First, they made their existing card-based Suica contactless ticketing system compatible with mobiles. Next, the company extended the system to support small retail payments and offered solutions to stores wanting to use Suica as a payment option. Recently, stations in Tokyo have been trialling RFID posters, using IC in mobile marketing. Now with today’s announcement, JR East is looking to take advantage of the potential of IC mobiles as a customer retention and CRM tool.

The new system comes in two incarnations – retailers can either sign up to the “Suica Points” scheme where customers have one points balance which increases every time they make a purchase at a participating store or buy JR East railway tickets. Alternatively, retailers can establish their own independent loyalty point scheme for their customers who pay using Suica e-cash.

A lot of the excitement surrounding mobile RFID has so far been based on its function as a payment method – but its role as a loyalty card has equally exciting possibilities. Imagine the opportunities it could offer retailers with well established loyalty schemes such as Tesco and Boots…

That's a wonderful step by the way. This mobile based loyalty programs are indeed in great demand these days.
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