Byndl and Big Data
By CardNotPresent.com Staff
Seattle area startup BYNDL, Inc. is a mobile transaction services joint venture based on technology first developed in Estonia to enable commuters to pay for parking with their mobile devices. BYNDL’s vision, however, extends well beyond parking.
The company’s mobile technology was initially invented in the mobile stone age—2001—as a project of the Swedish and Estonian telecom company Tele2. The system was piloted in Tallinn, Estonia that year, but because it was such early days for mobile payments the company “pretty much stayed focused on the Estonian market” according to Lori Salow Marshall, CEO of BYNDL. Tallinn now has 90% adoption of cell phone parking and Estonia has one of the highest penetration rates of mobile technology in the world.
Since 2006, though, the Estonian company—NOW!Innovations—has launched ParkNOW! pay-by-cell parking in Belgium, Macedonia, Slovenia and the U.K. In 2009, the ParkNOW! service was launched in the United States in Montgomery County, Maryland.
BYNDL, using NOW!Innovations’ technology, will move beyond parking. “I shy away from the word payments as the starting point and think of it as transactions,” says Salow Marshall. “We believe mobile transactions go way beyond payments,” she explains. “There’s an opportunity for us to extend BYNDL’s mobile capabilities into spaces like building access, identity, coupons, permits, and asset management, etc.. In a defined ecosystem, BYNDL’s carrier-grade platform capabilities translate perfectly as it incorporates location-based and time bound features, integration to gates and readers as well as access and permissions services. All these capabilities naturally extend into broader mobile transaction services.”
According to Salow Marshall, BYNDL is driven around three components: a customer database, a wallet capability and a transaction engine. BYNDL is a transaction-services company that enables multiple front-end devices to access the system, multiple payment methods on the back end and a tiered reporting structure “so that service providers—whether they are merchants or enterprises - can manage and access their payments activity in a way that’s meaningful to them,” says Salow Marshall. “In the end,” she says, “BYNDL links the relevant consumer data from all their mobile transactions to provide a full picture of their use patterns. BYNDL presents that data in a user-friendly way for merchants to engage those consumers with relevant offers. For employers, BYNDL provides company-wide employee permissions via the cell phone. Employees can use their BYNDL account to access buildings, pay for goods and even check out resources like projectors.
“It’s about two things,” she notes. “First, an aggregated view of the consumer purchase patterns collected in real time across multiple payment couponing and loyalty environments. And, second, the ability to use that data simplifying it for the merchant who is not a business intelligence expert.”
Salow Marshall sees Byndl’s platform working especially well in closed ecosystem environments like airports or stadiums. She says the company’s technology would enable a retail environment like that to see customer data across multiple merchants, multiple SKUs or multiple events.
“The stadium is an excellent example of where payment solutions have been really siloed,” she explains. “You have concessionaires who bring in a standard food and retail offering, you’ve got little independents that can’t afford to take credit cards and you have stadium owners who have separate sports and entertainment events and they don’t know who many of their customers are. The idea with this mobile technology is that every end user can become a known entity.”
What merchants can’t allow, she says, is for squabbles over mobile payment standards to delay catering to consumers at the point of decision—making what they desire available to them via a device they carry on their person the moment they think about it—and missing out on the wealth of data that can inform the continuing relationship with those consumers.
“People are not going to use one payment method and they’re not going to buy in one location,” she says. “There is a lost opportunity in mobile payments if everyone has to still walk to a payments terminal – or if the data from different payment options is not aggregated into a single view of the consumer.”