Entrepreneur's Delight
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Mobile Payment: An interview with Nico Winkelhaus

Nico Winkelhaus is currently Director Digital Marketing and leads PAYBACK's digital marketing department since 2015. He is primarily responsible for the digitalisation process at PAYBACK - mainly for increasing and monetising digital reach in a global role for Germany, USA, Italy and Mexico. He is also one of the speakers at the Global Digital Leaders Summit 2017. Here are some of his insights!
Nico held several executive positions in Digital Media in organisations like Condé Nast, WEKA Media Publishing as well as ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG, where he was responsible for the Brand and Product Management for their TV channel websites. 

Nico will talk more on the topic at the Global Digital Leaders Summit 2017. We invite you to check out the full programme of this year's event now!
Nico Winkelhaus
Q: PAYBACK is more than a classic points programme. How would you explain the company’s development and its vision?

Nico: We are far more than a classic points programme, that’s absolutely right. In 2000 we started with a plastic card. We were the first bonus programme of its kind in Germany. Today we are the leading international multi-partner loyalty programme and also one of the largest and highest performing marketing platforms in the world. We operate in a multichannel ecosystem, that means we communicate synchronously via all channels – offline, online and mobile – a strategy that enables a perfect symbiosis of reach and personalisation. Compared to the early days of our company and especially since the launch of our app, our focus has shifted from offline to mobile.

With about 110 million PAYBACK members worldwide and over 29 million in Germany, we are a true Big – or to be precise – Smart Data expert. A wide range of companies collect data, but quantity alone is worth nothing. Therefore, it is much more important what can be done with this information. We evaluate the relevant data with 17 years of know-how and data insight: Big Data becomes Smart Data. Our expertise enables us to send our customers the right offer via the right channel, at the right location, at the right time and that’s what makes our offers highly relevant. The success of PAYBACK can be traced back to the partners, the employees and the innovative power of the company: PAYBACK linked and implemented the topics of digitalisation and individualisation at an early stage. In these two areas, we want to be and stay first movers.

 "In 2000 the most interesting question for PAYBACK was: 'where do Germans shop?' Today it is more important to know how they shop; and that happens to be via all channels – offline, online and mobile."

Q: Nico, could you explain us and our readers how to bring PAYBACK to the next digital level and what are the most important goals of your work?

Nico: The biggest part of my job at PAYBACK is to push and monetise our digital reach. Today, we have 9 million newsletter permissions, millions of monthly active, logged-in digital users and we are one of the leading affiliate publishers in Germany. Two more and very important issues are the digitalisation of the point of sale and the further development of our Smart Data expertise – and we are making good progress. Within our ecosystem, we have a full view on the customer journey, no matter if the customer shops offline, online or mobile. In contrast to Google or Amazon, our data stream does not break down when the customer enters the point of sale – the “offline area”. Our app accompanies the whole shopping process by sending coupons in real-time, helping to find articles in the store or, since last summer, it is even possible to pay via app.

There is no “digital” customer. The customer has been moving between the individual channels seamlessly for a long time. With the help of our app, PAYBACK does the same. As a consequence we are able to collect far more valid data and derive specific purchasing processes from certain communication activities.

To put it in a nutshell, in my opinion the next digital level and one of the most urgent challenges is definitely the digitalisation of the point of sale. Our app can be seen as an enabler to do so. 

Q: Speaking of apps, "PAYBACK Pay" is an app where customers using a mobile phone to pay for goods and services. What is your recipe of success concerning Mobile Payment? 

Nico: First of all, we do not have a payment-only app. Our PAYBACK app is a shopping app, a companion for the whole shopping process with paying being an inherent part of it. The reason why we created our app like this is simple: nobody likes to pay and the smartphone does not make it any funnier. While the industry loves Mobile Payment, the average customer does not see any advantage in it. So the biggest challenge concerning the launch of a Mobile Payment solution in Germany was: how to make people really keen on paying with their smartphones?

We faced this challenge. We integrated payment as a part of a larger process and succeeded to offer customers a seamless customer journey in one single app: get coupons, find articles, pay and finally get a (digital) receipt. Paying with a smartphone suddenly became easy, convenient and intuitive. But Mobile Payment is not only about the customers, it is also important to interact with the existing infrastructure. We had to integrate various retailers using different cash systems. Our app automatically adapts to the different payment methods like QR or NFC by using location based services. As well as satisfied customers, it is also essential to gain the trust of retailers. We managed to convince both stakeholders: PAYBACK started the app with a basis of 29 million customers in Germany and partnerships with the biggest retailers in each industry. More and more partners join: REWE just announced to start the PAY feature in July 2017. To sum it up: the strategy can be explained as embedding payment in a larger context and as seeing it as one part of the customer journey and not as a stand-alone solution. Over 11 million app downloads prove us right.

The iUeMagazine team is delighted to work with 3rd Global Digital Leaders 2017 as Online Media Partners & is expected to bring Unlimited Inspiration for all readers from the proceedings of this event. Staying tuned to the enriching updates from this event is recommended.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 23rd April 2017.

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