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Erin Monda is a TMCnet Contributing Editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan
PARIS, France, 19th March 2010 - Ariane Systems VIKI project selected in Aug-2009 and partially financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) got started.
By removing all hardware associated with the check-in and check-out processes, VIKI will revolutionize the hospitality industry by enabling customers to check-in/check-out where and when they want using their desktop, their laptop, their smartphone and even their cell phone.
« Often a source of frustration for business guests, the check-in/check-out procedures have not changed in 15 years. Guests still need to go to the front desk, stand in line and wait for their turn" explains Laurent Cardot, Managing Director and co-founder of Ariane Systems.
« For 10 years, Ariane Systems has been deploying self-service check-in/check-out kiosks in the lobby areas. VIKI anticipates the needs of our clients who are at the cutting edge of technology and want to offer to their guests, for example, the ability to check-in online from their computer before arriving at their hotel, or perform their check-out from their cell phone, comfortably sitting in the taxi that is already driving them to the airport" continues Laurent Cardot.
The features that this software platform will be able to offer are countless as it will integrate online mobile payment solutions and will enable the user to modify their bill, address or even client profile.
For VIKI, Ariane Systems partnered with LIP6 (a research center specialized in the realm of telecommunications and information technology), Lemon Way (a company specializing in mobile applications and leader in mobile banking technologies), as well as Hotel Performance (a major hospitality group) that will contribute their hotel know-how.
« With our mobile platforms, the security layers brought by LIP6 and the unique feature application of Ariane Systems, we will offer early 2011 a solution which will be able to adapt to most of today's existing hotel technical environments" confirms Sebastien Burlet, founder of Lemon Way.
Frequent travelers' dream to go directly to their hotel room after receiving a SMS that features their room number and software room key card is not so far...
About Ariane Systems
Ariane Systems is the worldwide leading provider of self-check-in / check-out technology solutions for the hospitality industry. Founded in 1998 by Michel Lavandier and Laurent Cardot, Ariane has deployed over 1,500 kiosks installed at hotel properties in 15 countries. Currently, numerous hotel chains utilize Ariane's self-service solutions to streamline their check-in / out process, including Pullman, Radisson, Golden Tulip, Holiday Inn, Campanile, B&B, Ibis and Novotel, among others.
Based in Paris-France, Ariane Systems operates subsidiaries in the UK, Germany, Spain, Scandinavia, Middle-East and now North America.
For more information, please visit www.ariane-systems.com.
Mobile barcodes are on the verge of becoming a global phenomenon, but what exactly are they, what do they do, and for whom? We became familiar with the original, linear barcodes (or 1D), from our supermarket shopping in the 1980's (although the technology was patented in the 1950's). They comprise a series of vertical black lines and white spaces of variable width, representing numbers, which are read (or decoded) by a barcode reader to extract the information they bear.
However, as barcodes were used in an ever greater variety of environments beyond straightforward stock control, they became longer and longer as people tried to pack more information onto them. A new generation of barcodes was devised in the 1990's, usually referred to as 2D or matrix codes. They are formed by patterns of black and white squares arranged on a (usually) square grid and can encode thousands of alphanumeric and other characters in virtually any language. Immediately the size and capacity problem was solved, opening the way for applications that had never been considered.
Another radical and exciting advancement in barcode reader technology allowed the camera in a mobile phone to act as a reader. Mobile phones can now be enabled to read a variety of 2D mobile barcodes. These include QR codes, Data Matrix, Cool-Data-Matrix, Aztec, Upcode, Trillcode, Quickmark, shotcode, mCode and Beetagg.
The vast majority of symbologies are in the public domain, which means they can be used by anyone without restriction and without payment of a fee or royalty. This public approach gives rise to internationally recognised standards, global interoperability, and creates an economy of scale. This is a great boon for advertisers and consumers (both of whom are the mobile operators' customers) because only one software client is required to read any code. For the operators, this translates to greater choice and more competitively priced equipment.
Unfortunately, some barcode developers have chosen the proprietary route, which means they keep control of their own codes, the information that is permitted to be encoded and charge a fee or royalty for their use. These issues and the lack of interoperability usually means that proprietary barcodes tend to be used in controlled, closed environments, rather than in open, public systems around the world.
The most common use of mobile barcodes is to request information or a service or content from a Web site. It might be details of a promotion, or a discount voucher via SMS or MMS, or to activate a download such as a ringtone, music track or game, or click to call an IVR or human agent, or buy a travel or concert ticket. The advertiser pays the set-up costs as well as its operator partner on a per-click, download, view, redeemed coupon, ticket sale or call, depending on the campaign.
The key is that mobile barcodes are a pull technology, a permission-based way for a consumer to engage with an advertiser or medium. This is a very important attribute since there is a great deal of consumer angst and regulatory concern about intrusive: mobile barcodes are a world away from pushing unsolicited spam via SMS or MMS. Big brands are understandably wary of engaging in any advertising activity that compromises their reputation by alienating their customers and have stayed away from these kinds of push campaigns.
The pull of mobile barcodes overcome these issues and offer a direct, accountable way of connecting with consumers. However, if mobile barcodes are to succeed as an advertising medium, a high level of back-office integration is necessary, which reinforces the importance of open standards for processes and interfaces. Operators will need to demonstrate to the world's biggest brands that the barcode scanning transactions are accurate, reliable and defendable because they are going to charge that brand for every click.
The precedent is there: Google has built a multi-billion dollar, online business on this per click or interaction model with its Google AdWord/AdSense, which provides advertisers with reliable, accountable records of their users' transaction history and an accurate invoice, plus timely and granular revenue share payments to other parts of the ecosystem. In mobile, unlike online, there is the additional challenge that these mechanisms have to work across carriers, across countries and across currencies.
So the stage is set. With 2D barcode scanning, advertisers have a reliable, permission-based mobile channel open to them. Consumers love them as an easy way of using to engage with services and media they are interested in, as has been demonstrated in spades in Japan, where mobile barcodes are part of everyday life. This is because Japan is unusual in having a very dominant operator, NTT DoCoMo, which decided to endorse QR codes and ensured that all new handsets had QR code client software embedded in them. The rest is history, but this approach is not applicable to markets in most other countries, which typically have four or five operators competing against each other.
The challenge now is to ensure that any brand advertiser can run the same ad campaign in Singapore, London and Seattle instead of having to produce and run different campaigns in each country and for every operator. The inability to do this has been another big inhibitor to . Mobile barcodes have the potential to overcome these issues and become the mainstream, global phenomenon that they could and should be. However to attain this goal, the various parties that make up the ecosystem and the various warring factions within the mobile barcode industry need to come together and work on common standards* that will be to everyone's advantage.
The opportunities offered by the advent of proximity mobile payments are clear; differentiated payment services, increased transaction volumes, faster transactions, increased customer convenience, operational efficiencies and the ability to increase customer loyalty through targeted gift and loyalty programs. With implementations already in place in Europe and Japan, strong consumer interest and the ability to leverage the contactless POS infrastructure already in place, NFC-enabled proximity mobile payments show much promise. But how will security be managed in an ecosystem with so many stakeholders, each managing their own unique aspect of the process? The news is good.
Both the financial and mobile industries have made much progress in defining how NFC-enabled mobile payments will take place and how financial information will be secured. Security is bolstered by the use of industry standards and by the technology supporting proximity mobile payments. Industry organizations have defined standards based approaches to ensuring that payment account information is delivered securely to the mobile phone and stored securely in the phone's secure element.
The NFC-enabled mobile phone leverages the existing ISO/IEC 14443 standard for communicating payment information from the phone to the merchant's POS terminal. Appropriate risk analysis of an operational model for proximity mobile payments can identify where there is potential for fraud or misuse, develop mitigation measures and assign responsibility. From the consumer's perspective, the proximity mobile phone payment looks just like a contactless credit or debit card transaction.
Mobile phones can also leverage two-factor authentication technology to secure the payment application and information. Requiring a passcode or a fingerprint to initiate or respond to the terminal's attempt to initiate or validate a transaction can provide the consumer with additional comfort and a sense of control over a transaction.
While implementations may vary, industry players are moving in a consistent direction. Industry organizations are working to increase ease of access, global interoperability and security of mobile payment technology to consumers. Pilot studies in the United States and implementations worldwide have tested both the technology and the mobile payments process. Proximity mobile payments technology is solid, and will serve this exciting new payment frontier well. Industry stakeholders can leverage the proven technology and a merchant infrastructure that is ready to go to take advantage of consumers' ever-growing love of mobile technology.