Welcome Real-Time buys Axiomatique
Welcome Real-Time, French-based provider of loyalty software for smart payment cards has acquired Singapore-based Axiomatique International.
Axiomatique has brought with it complementary technology, market share and clients, meaning that Welcome Real-Time now has a presence in Europe, Asia and the Americas. It has signed agreements with card issuers in these regions representing a potential of over 150 million cards.
Welcome Real-Time and Axiomatique began integrating their systems some six months ago. The joint solution has been licensed by American Express for the Australian launch of its Blue credit card.
RFM in real time Welcome Real-Time is best known for the technology which it introduced a few years ago, which enables RFM (recency, frequency and monetary value) calculations to be performed automatically in real time at the point of sale. This means that customers carrying one of the company's smart cards can be provided with targeted offers at the time of purchase, depending on their previous purchase history, without the need for an online database. All that is needed is that the card be inserted into the retailer's smart card terminal: the calculation is performed and the card updated instantly. Any discounts necessary are automatically given and the details appear on the checkout display and register slip. The system is also capable of printing out coupons to be redeemed in the future.
The Welcome Real-Time technology also enables simple (and relatively cheap) memory chip cards to be used as multifunction cards: each card could hold 'purses' for many loyalty programmes. These chips are now being incorporated in most credit cards. A single credit or debit card could thus be used by, say, fifteen different retailers to run their RFM-based loyalty programmes. When the customer stops using a particular retailer, that space automatically becomes available for another retailer to use.
Back end Axiomatique's core strength includes back-end programme administration and management, as well as seamless integration of magstripe and smart card functionality at the back-end.
Some of the clients in Europe and Asia who have implemented both companies' systems over the last five years include AK Bank (a Turkish bank); American Express; AOM French Airlines; Carte Jeunes, France; Chase Manhattan Bank, HK; LG Credit Services, Korea; Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore; Sumitomo Credit Services, Japan, and Telekom Malaysia.
Axiomatique was founded in 1997 and its management system powers virtually all of the multi-function smart card programmes deployed in Asia. Axiomatique's system is used with smart cards issued by banks, such as Standard Chartered, Chase Manhattan, Sumitomo Credit Services and others, in addition to cards issued by a variety of retail consortia and loyalty operators.
At a time when banks and credit card operators are switching to smart cards, the company plans to piggy back the trend, and hopes to grab the most significant market share on a worldwide basis. It clearly does have some advantages: proven solutions and concepts in early smart card educated markets in Europe, a strong presence in dynamic smart card oriented markets like Asia, and a strong image and recognition in the US--the world's largest market for the company, with 53% of all Visa and MasterCard credit cards.
Well placed However, it can't expect its competitors to take all of this lying down, and will have to focus its efforts clearly and not spread itself too widely.
In Europe, the 50 largest issuers account for 50% of the cards issued. In the US, the 50 largest issuers account for 87% of the cards issued. Welcome Real-Time says that it is very well placed with some of the US's top ten issuers and that it is actively exploring opportunities with financial institutions in France, UK, Turkey, Scandinavia and other countries. And it is also counting on its well established Asian presence to place it in a solid position to supply software products and services accompanying the region's move to smart bank cards.
The two companies already shared a shareholder: smart card manufacturer, Gemplus. Axiomatique's other major shareholders, Standard Chartered Bank and TDF (Singapore VC fund) have all become shareholders of Welcome Real-time who will own 100% of Axiomatique's shares. Other shareholders of Welcome Real-time (which was founded in 1994) are French marketing firm High Co (part of WPP Group), Avenir Télécom, Dassault, and WRT management.