If you’re like millions of Americans, you likely have store credit cards from your favorite retailers somewhere in your wallet. You may have signed up to get a discount on your first purchase or to find out about exclusive deals before everyone else. Whatever the reason, that store credit card has made you a loyal customer.
Synchrony Financial's Innovation Station develops cutting-edge digital solutions for retailers.
But as mobile payment technology becomes more prevalent, sooner or later you may not feel compelled to carry your wallet or credit cards along with you when you go shopping. That could mean you’ll risk losing the benefits and perks that come with swiping your favorite retailer's store card — at least, until now.
Synchrony Financial, a leader in consumer financing with more than 80 years of retail heritage, has its finger on the pulse of consumer purchasing habits and recognized early on the need to retain the benefits of private label credit cards in this new mobile environment. In response, Synchrony Financial established its Innovation Station, dedicated to emerging digital technology, in the fall of 2013. BI Studios recently toured this facility, located in Stamford, Conn.
Synchrony Financial's cross-functional teams work collaboratively to develop new products.
Similar to many tech companies, this collaborative cross-functional team follows an agile development methodology to develop software quickly and efficiently. "You have IT, marketing, engineers, front-end developers, and experienced operations here," says Synchrony's Senior IT Manager Tim Christensen. "Everybody works on the same projects together, bringing their unique perspectives to develop a better product faster."
Beginning with a business or customer problem — such as how to retain brand loyalty and stay top-of-wallet in today's new mobile environment — the Innovation Station team hosts intense, one-day prototyping sessions, often including partners and customers. A session ends with a working prototype of a digital solution that can be quickly implemented using Synchrony Financial's digital development capabilities and agile execution principles. Previous sessions have resulted in a range of innovative, streamlined mobile products for the entire credit lifecycle, from acquisition to servicing and loyalty to payments.
Synchrony Financial's mApply mobile credit application product is popular with retailers as an in-store line buster.
One example is Synchrony Financial's mApply platform, which allows shoppers to securely apply for credit directly on their mobile devices and immediately access their approved credit line. "Being able to apply for credit while you're waiting in line at the store and then have instant access to your credit card the second you get up to the register provides a great customer experience," says Synchrony Financial's Digital Marketing Manager Marissa Paragano. Popular with many of Synchrony Financial's retail partners, mApply was leveraged successfully by a number of leading retailers as an in-store line buster during the 2014 holiday season.
Continuing the theme of consumer convenience, Synchrony Financial's cross-functional team also developed the mService product, which allows customers to easily pay bills and service their account using a mobile device. Seamlessly integrated with the mService product, the company's customized Mobile Rewards allow customers to display a reward certificate on their mobile phone and present it at the point of sale.
Another innovative mobile offering resulting from rapid prototyping and agile development is Synchrony Financial's digital card, a digital version of a Synchrony Bank-issued credit card that enables in-store account lookup and mobile payments functionality. The digital card, which is device agnostic, was successfully piloted in 2014, resulting in increased activations and transactions for a significantly higher credit spend at a number of retailers.
Synchrony Financial's digital card technology enables in-store account lookup and mobile payments functionality.
The final piece of the credit lifecycle is mobile payments, which are expected to reach $142 billion in the US in 2019, from about $50 billion currently¹. As the largest issuer of private label credit cards in the US², Synchrony Financial has developed a strategy to build, partner, and invest in the latest mobile payment technologies.
"We are shaping the future of how private label credit cards work in mobile wallets," says Carol Juel, chief information officer for Synchrony Financial. "Through our ongoing innovation and strategic partnerships, we are working to securely integrate all the benefits of private label that appeal to our partners and customers for whichever mobile wallet they choose. We continue to work with new and existing wallets, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, MCX (CurrentC), and others."
For additional insights from Synchrony Financial, click here.
¹"US Mobile Payments Forecast, 2014 to 2019," Forrester Research, November 17, 2014.
²Based on purchase volume and receivables.
Photo credit: BI Studios/Marcus Ricci