CA2237109A1 - Database marketing information and method and system using same - Google PatentsDatabase marketing information and method and system using same
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- CA2237109A1 CA2237109A1 CA 2237109 CA2237109A CA2237109A1 CA 2237109 A1 CA2237109 A1 CA 2237109A1 CA 2237109 CA2237109 CA 2237109 CA 2237109 A CA2237109 A CA 2237109A CA 2237109 A1 CA2237109 A1 CA 2237109A1
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CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 DATABASE MARKETING INFORMATION AND
METHOD AND SYSTEM USING SAME
RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS
This application is based on United States Provisional Application, Serial Number 60/046,892 filed May 7, 1997.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Field of the Invention:
This invention relates to a system and a method for storing and generating marketing and promotional information. The invention is more particularly related to a method and system for processing transactions in order to promote a business using a rewards program.
Discussion of the Related Art:
Mall owners, like any other for-profit operations, are in existence to generate a return on an investment. Therefore, the mall owner has an interest in increasing sales within the mall as the rent which can be charged to stores is either directly or indirectly based on the sales that occur within the stores. However, malls, unlike individual stores, ~ elllly do not have an adequate way of promoting and marketing themselves.
The problem of marketing a mall is unique in that people do not go to a mall just to visit the mall but people go to malls in order to visit particular stores. Thus, one way a mall can market itself is to advertise the individual stores contained within the mall. However, this type of advertisement might be disadvantageous to some stores of the mall as all stores which are featured in the advertisement will receive the same attention, especially if the advertisement medium is general broadcast such as radio or television. Those stores that are not profiled may complain about such a practice, as they are also contributing to the mall marketing funds (which are part of each tenant's periodic rental payment) used for the advertisement but receive little or no promotion.
Another promotional scheme which might be used to market a mall is to provide advertisement circulars which list sale items at various stores within the mall. However, different stores conduct their own marketing practices and may not want to participate in a mall-issued sales circular. Furthermore, such circulars may be limited in the number of stores that may be effectively promoted.
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 Another known way in which a mall might advertise is to sponsor an affinity credit card which is associated with the mall. People who are enthusiastic about a particular mall might sign up for a credit card which has the name of the mall thereon. However, having such a mall affinity credit card would not provide any direct motivation for a person to shop at a specific mall. Thus, the mall affinity credit card has not proven to be a useful or attractive marketing tool for malls.
There are credit cards which provide incentives for a purchaser to use the credit card.
For example, there are several credit cards associated with airlines which offer frequent flyer miles based on the amount of credit card purchases. However, such a system promotes the general use of the credit card without necessarily promoting specific merchants or services that accept the credit card.
Various reward credit cards do exist which provide an incentive for a consumer to shop at specific stores or dine at certain restaurants. For example, the GM credit card, referred to as the GM MasterCard, offers a certain percentage of a credit card purchase which can be applied to the purchase of a new General Motors automobile. The GM MasterCard also provides an increase in the reward provided for credit card purchases at certain partners.
For example, General Motors is believed to have entered into agreements with different partners such as a specific gas station chain, a specific car rental company, and a specific hotel chain in order to provide accelerated rewards for consumers and marketing benefits for these associated partners. However, it would not be possible for a mall owner to enter into a promotional agreement with every single store in a mall as the anchor stores usually offer their own credit cards (generally referred to as proprietary cards) and make a significant amount of money on interest payments by consumers who use their proprietary credit cards.
Thus, it would not be in the best interest of a large anchor store to enter into a partnership with a mall in order to have a promotional mall credit card. Therefore, there has not been an effective manner for mall owners to successfully market and promote their malls in a manner which is fair to all of the stores located within the malls.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Systems and methods consistent with the present invention provide for processingcredit transactions to promote a retail mall. Initially, the sellers or merchants in the mall CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 whose consumers are to receive plefelelllial treatment are registered in a computer database.
It is not necessary to request authorization from the individual sellers or merchants to be registered in the database. Thus, even stores which do not wish to participate in this promotional method may still be registered. Consumers or store customers will sign up for a credit card and/or debit card which is registered in order to receive the benefits of the marketing program. This new credit or debit card which has printed thereon some indication of the group of stores or mall at which the consumer will receive special benefits. For example, the credit card may state that it is a mall credit card or other such indication.
After the merchants or sellers and customers or consumers are registered in the computer database, the consumer purchases a product or service from one of the merchants and pays for the product or service using the mall credit card. The result of this credit card purchase is the creation of electronic information which records or registers the sale, thus creating transaction registration information. This information is transmitted to a processing agency.
The processing agency determines if a mall credit card was used and if the purchase was made from a seller which is registered in the database cont~inin~; the mall merchants. If the sale was made at a mall merchant and a mall credit card was used, the customer will receive accelerated benefits because of the transaction which occurred with the mall merchant.
The benefits which could be issued to the consumer include both monetary rewardsand non-monetary privileges. Monetary rewards could include a certain percentage of the transaction price to the consumer, a check or other monetary device or a coupon which would be redeemed by merchants and thus would be similar to cash to a user. Non-monetary privileges which could be provided to the consumer include advanced notice of sales, reserved parking, valet parking, coat and package checks, free gift wrap, special lounges, or any other type of non-monetary mall related privilege.
The monetary rewards are paid for solely by a bank which issues the mall credit card.
Alternatively to or in addition to the bank paying for the reward, the mall owner or seller may also pay for all or part of the reward and/or privilege.
An advantage of the mall credit or debit card described above is that information on individuals' purchasing habits at a mall are obtained and stored. Thus, the mall owner or CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 individual stores within a mall can send promotional material and discounts to specific customers based on the amount of mall spending.
According to the preferred embodiment of the invention, a consumer receives a MICR
(magnetic ink character recognition) encoded bank check once a predetermined threshold is met which is part of a credit card monthly billing statement for 2% of the value of purchases which occur within the mall and 1% of the value of the purchases which occur outside of the mall.
The database which is to be used for processing the transactions is stored in a computer memory in a data structure which includes a field for storing a merchant identification and a field for storing an indication of whether customers of the merchant are to receive preferential treatment. Alternatively, these fields are contained in different data structures and/or different data bases. The field which indicates whether the merchants are to receive preferential treatment is filled with appropfiate data without the need to receive authorization from the merchant that the merchant will be included in the data base (i.e., the merchant does not have to be asked if it should be included in the mall credit card program).
Preferably, the field for storing an indication of whether the merchant is located in a mall indicates that customers of the merchant are to receive preferential treatment.
Another feature of the present invention includes the use of one or more non-credit card partners which provide rewards and privileges to customers based on both the spending with the partner and also spending which is performed by the customer at retail establishments such as the stores and service providers within a retail mall. This aspect of the invention is referred to as a partner rewards-program or loyalty program.
According to the invention, an exemplary partner is a telecommunications company.
This telecommunications company provides one or more communication services such as long distance telephone service, wireless telephone service such as conventional analog cellular service, digital cellular service such as PCS (personal communication services), local phone service, where available, and an Internet access service. For each of these services which a consumer purchases through the telecommunications company, the customer receives up to a 1% reward of his or her in-mall spending in the form of a mall gift certificate or mall dollars. Therefore, the marketing and information tracking of a customer's mall spending and telecommunication services are interrelated and the use of selected communication services CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 provides an incentive for a customer to shop at a mall and vice versa. Preferably, the reward provided by the telecommunications company has a maximum value, for example up to 1%
of a maximum of $2,000 of in-mall purchases for each of the four services provided by the telecommunications company for a total of a 4% reward. With this rewards programapplying to a maximum of $2,000 of in-mall spending, for example, the telecommunications company would provide a reward of $20 per service for a maximum of an $80 reward if a consumer signed-up for each of the four services with the telecommunications company and spent at least $2,000 at a mall or malls or other associated stores and these purchases were recorded. The notion of other partners would be similar, the more you use the partner's service, the more reward potential is available to the consumer. In the future, these rewards may be additive to include multiple partners and the rewards could be accrued to a single account.
In order to implement this partner rewards or loyalty program, the invention constitutes a database, and method and system for m~n~ging this database. In order to implement the loyalty program using one or more partners, the spending of a consumer in the mall is tracked and stored. One manner of obtaining and storing the purchases made by the consumer in a mall is to use the mall credit card or debit card system discussed above.
However, as an alternative to using the mall credit card or debit card, a separate loyalty card can be used which contains a customer identification in order to store or track the purchases made by the consumer. This loyalty card can be implemented using any type of identification device including a card having a magnetic stripe, a card having a memory chip, a card having a bar code, or any other type of identification device. The use of a separate identification device which is different from a credit or debit card allows consumers who do not have a credit or debit card to participate in the partner loyalty program. While the partner loyalty program has been discussed with respect to a telecommunications company, any other type of partner can be utilized with the system such as a financial services company which provides investment services, mortgages, and other loans, travel org~ni7~tions, and other program partners such as hotels, gas stations, and rental car companies.
The actual reward provided by the partner is either cash or a cash equivalent which may be redeemed at the stores within a mall, for example, or can be any of the other rewards and non-monetary privileges used with the invention.
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 According to an embodiment of the invention, the mall purchases of a consumer are entered into a database. These entries are preferably electronically entered, for example using a magnetic card reader, a smart card reader, or a keyboard which is utilized to input transaction information and partner information. The reward which is provided to the customer is preferably based on in-mall spending, provided a relationship exists with the loyalty partner. However, as an alternative to merely detçrrnining whether a relationship exists between the customer and the loyalty partner, the amount of spending the customer does with the loyalty partner may also be evaluated.
Typically, the loyalty partners are only willing to spend a fixed amount of money on each customer. Once this limit is reached, the customer may no longer have an incentive to use the loyalty card which is utilized to keep track of the spending habits of the customer (provided the loyalty card is not a credit or debit card). However, to continue providing the customer with rewards, another entity may be willing to fund the reward such as the mall owner or management company or a company which is gathering statistical information about the purchasing habits of the customer.
Further, an advanced or premium level reward or privilege can be provided such as the non-monetary privileges associated with the mall credit card. These privileges, such as reserved parking, may be relatively inexpensive for a mall owner to provide so the mall owner or mall management company might be willing to pay for or provide such a privilege.
Also, advanced level monetary rewards may be provided, if desired. The mall and/or partner may provide that consumers have an upgraded frequent status, similar to a higher status in a frequent flier program, due to higher use of the mall and/or goods and services of the partner, as tracked by the present invention. In such instances, the consumer will receive enhanced in-mall benefits (e.g., access to a private lounge and/or accelerated and continued reward accumulation.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
A more complete appreciation of the invention and many of the attendant advantages thereof will be readily obtained as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 Fig. 1 illustrates a system including a database for processing transactions andproviding rewards and privileges;
Fig. 2 illustrates, in block diagram format, the components of various devices which can be used with the invention;
Fig. 3 illustrates a computer which can be utilized with the invention;
Fig. 4 illustrates a cash register including a scanner, a magnetic card reader, a smart card reader, and a PIN pad to be used with the invention;
Fig. 5 illustrates a magnetic card reader utilized to obtain authorization and process a purchase from a credit or debit card company;
Fig. 6 illustrates a smart card reader for obtaining approval of a credit or debit card transaction;
Fig. 7 illustrates a database which is shared among various computers in order to process transactions according to the invention;
Fig. 8 illustrates a network of entities used for processing credit card transactions;
Fig. 9 illustrates a data structure utilized to store merchant information;
Fig. 10 illustrates a data structure used to store information of a customer;
Fig. 11 illustrates a data structure used to store transactions of the customer;Fig. 12 illustrates a process of registering merchants and customers in the databases;
Fig. 13 illustrates a manner of determining the identification of stores to be included in the rewards/privileges program;
Figs. l 4A and 1 4B are flowchart showing the processing of a transaction which occurs at a store;
Fig. 15 illustrates a process of generating a credit card statement and determining the rewards and privileges to which the customer is entitled;
Fig. 16 illustrates a credit card statement including a reward which is transmitted to a customer;
Fig. 17 illustrates a process of transmitting information of mall purchases to various entities;
Fig. 18 illuskates a database management system for implementing a loyalty program with one or more partner org~ni~tions;
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 Fig. l 9 illustrates a data structure used to store information of the customer spending with a partner;
Fig. 20 illustrates a data structure used to m~in1~in information of a customer participating in the loyalty program;
Fig. 2 l illustrates a data structure used to store information of individual transactions of customers participating in the loyalty program;
Fig. 22 is a flowchart of an overview of the process of the loyalty program;
Fig. 23 is a flowchart of the process performed in the loyalty program when a customer engages in a transaction with a merchant;
Fig. 24 illustrates the process of determining rewards which will be issued in accordance with the loyalty program;
Fig. 25 illustrates the process of generating a table of mall merchant data according to another embodiment of the present invention;
Fig. 26 illustrates the process of generating a list of merchants in a designated location according to one embodiment of the present invention; and Fig. 27 illustrates the process of updating the merchant list according to one embodiment of the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals designate identical or corresponding parts throughout the several views and more particularly to Fig. l thereof, there is illustrated a system used to carry out the invention. A mall 20 is a retail mall which contains a plurality of stores, one of which is desi~n~tecl as store 22. Mall 20 preferably contains multiple stores in the same enclosed building. However, the mall might include additional facilities and buildings. The store 22, also referred to as a seller or merchant, sells goods or services to customers, also referred to as consumers.
The present invention provides rewards/privileges program for customers. When using a credit card or debit card associated with a mall, the customer receives rewards or privileges or accelerated rewards/privileges by making purchases in mall stores. The cards are generally referred to as mall credit cards or mall cards.
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 The store 22 contains a transaction processing and communication device 24 which is utilized to request authorization of transactions such as credit card transactions and/or debit card transactions. Device 24 transmits the request for authorization to a transaction processing system 26 which either approves or rejects the transaction. The transaction processing and communication device 24 is preferably implemented by a cash register which includes a magnetic card reader to read account information off of a customer's credit card which is electronically transmitted as a request for authorization. However, the transaction processing and communication device 24 may be implemented as a stand-alone magnetic card reader or smart card reader which may be interfaced to a cash register, if desired. As a further alternative, the transaction processing and communication device 24 may contain its own database of approved credit cards which is updated on a regular basis by communication with a central facility. This device having its own database does not need to communicate with the transaction processing system to authorize each transaction.
The system of Fig. 1 includes the transaction processing system 26. The transaction processing system 26 processes the transactions which are generated by the store 22 and includes a plurality of programmed computers. Under a credit card system such as that used by the Discover Card or the American Express Card, the transaction processing system 26 is owned or managed by one entity making each stage of processing straightforward to implement as the individual aspects of the transaction processing system are owned or managed by the same entity and are easily modified to accommodate the processing need of this invention. This invention is also applicable to other credit card systems such as the systems used by Visa and MasterCard. However, in order to implement the invention into Visa or MasterCard systems, it is necessary to have entities which process the credit card transactions communicate with each other using known protocols or a common protocol system. While the terms credit card and credit card system are used throughout this writing, unless indicated to the contrary by a clecign~tion that the credit card is utilized for processing credit transactions, the term credit card may also include debit card and debit card transactions.
The transaction processing system 26 generates bills or statements and these bills are mailed to a consumer or customer 28. The consumer 28 forwards a payment to the transaction processing system 26 which also provides a reward or privilege to the consumer CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 28, depending on the transactions performed by the consumer. It is also possible to provide the reward or privilege with the bill. The rewards and privileges utilized by this invention may be monetary in nature, cash, cash equivalents, merchandise certificates, coupons, or any other monetary, or other reward providing a discount, or alternatively, a non-monetary privilege such as advanced notice and execution of exclusive sales and events, priority reservations at mall events, discounted/free photos with Santa and the Easter bunny, free gift wrap, free stroller rental, free parking, reserved parking, valet parking, special lounge or rest areas which include restrooms, free local phone calls, coffee and soft drinks, diaper ch~nging stations, special shopping hours, a coat and package check, special sales literature or promotions, or any other type of non-monetary privilege which may or may not have a cash equivalent. Thus, in implementing an embodiment of the invention, the actual invention of providing non-monetary privileges could be performed, if desired according to anembodiment, without any mathematical operations. Such a non-mathematical system would create a database cont~inin~; sellers and consumers, register that the consumer performed some type of transaction, transmitting the transaction information to the transaction processing system 26 and determinin~ if both the seller and consumer are registered in a database. Mathematical implementations of the invention also exist.
The database utilized by this invention is illustrated in Fig. 1 as a database 30. In a system in which the transaction processing system is owned or managed by a single entity, the database 30 may be a single database which is shared by each of the components of the transaction processing system 30. However, the database 30 may be divided into separate components which are utilized by different computer systems making up the transaction processing system 26. Therefore, the database 30, while illustrated as a single component in Fig. 1, can be broken down into a plurality of databases which are utilized by separate entities or computers which have some related or overlapping information. Further, the ~l~t~b~e 30 is illustrated for purposes of clarity as external to the transaction processing system 26.
However, the database 30 may be internal to the transaction processing system 26.
The database 30 contains information on the stores or sellers, the individual consumers, and the transactions. The use of the invention allows the gathering of information including consumers' spending habits in a mall which previously has not been easy or has been impossible to determine. This database of consumers and their purchasing habits can be CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 transmitted to a mall owner or mall management company 32 so that the mall owner 32 will know the best mall customers. Thus, the mall owner 32 can provide privileges, as desired, to the better customers, for example, customers who reach a predetermined level of in-mall spending. The stores 34 can also be provided with the information in the database in order for the stores to target advertisements to individuals who may be of interest to a particular store. For example, the database 30 may be organized to store information of not only whether a transaction was in a mall or occurred outside of a mall but can be used to indicate and store information as to the name or type of retailer at which a transaction occurred. For example, the database could be or~ni7ed to store information of a customers' spending in jewelry stores. This information can be transmitted to jewelry stores within the mall in order for these mall jewelry stores to target customers who have made purchases outside the mall.
Preferably, these initiatives would be in compliance with United States consumer privacy laws for implementations of this invention in the United States.
The present invention is implemented and managed by a mall credit card program management operation 36. This mall credit card program management 36 is also provided transaction information in order to know how well the mall credit card program is progressing. Further, the information in the d~t~b~ce 30 may be provided to any type of marketing org~ni7~tion 38. This information may be provided electronically via telecommunication lines or electronic media, or alternatively on a human readable printed media.
In order to implement the invention, an electronic and computer processing system is utilized cont:~ining a plurality of processing devices or computers. Fig. 2 illustrates the basic components of devices utilized to implement the invention. However, not every device will utilize each of the components illustrated in Fig. 2.
In the exemplary device of Fig. 2 which may be used to implement any of the computers or devices utilized by the invention, there is a processor 50 which may be implemented using any type of microprocessor or processing device. A RAM (RandomAccess Memory) 52 is utilized to store information during the processing operations.
Typically, when power is turned offto the system, information stored in the RAM 52 will be lost, although a non-volatile RAM may be utilized or alternatively, a back-up battery may be applied to the RAM 52. There is a ROM (Read Only Memory) 54 utilized which m~int~in.~
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 the storage of information, even when power is no longer applied to the system. The ROM
54 may be utilized to store microcode in order to control the basic operations of the system illustrated in Fig. 2. The ROM 54 may also be used to store the computer instructions whose sequence and organization are unique to this invention and when executed carry out the process of the invention.
The device of Fig. 2 also includes a communication interface 56 which is utilized to allow the device of Fig. 2 to communicate with other computers or devices having their own communication interfaces through a telephone line 58 and/or a computer network 60. A
modem can be included in the communication interface 56 to communicate over the telephone line 58. The computer network 60 may be implemented using a local area network, a wide area network, or the Internet. The communication interface 56 may also be used to request a wiring of funds or may implement an actual monetary payment by wire to the merchants.
In order to read credit cards and debit cards, there is a magnetic card reader card 62 which reads a magnetic stripe 65, also referred to as a magnetic strip, or any other magnetic or electromagnetic medium contained on a magnetic card 64. The magnetic stripe 65 includes encoded account information. The magnetic card reader 62 may be implemented in a conventional manner by a magnetic head which reads the magnetic stripe 65 contained on the magnetic card 64 when the magnetic card 64 is swiped through the magnetic card reader 62. There is also a smart card reader 66 which reads a smart card 68. The smart card 68 contains a memory chip 69 which includes encoded account information of the consumer and is mounted on or is an integral part of the smart card 68.
Further information on smart cards or cards having a semiconductor memory is contained in U.S. Patents 4,882,474 and 5,266,782 which are each incorporated herein by reference. The magnetic stripe 65 and/or the memory chip 69 store information in data structures which are part of the present invention. For example, the data structure contains a field for storing an identifier which indicates that the customer is to receive an accelerated reward for shopping in a mall. This field preferably stores the credit card number, the first four digits of which indicate the program and/or bank associated with the card. In this case, the first four digits indicate that the credit card is to provide accelerated rewards for shopping CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 in a mall. Other information which may be stored on the card includes the name of the customer, and the expiration date of the card.
In order for the device of Fig. 2 to process information, it must be programmed so that it becomes a special purpose machine or computer for performing specialized transaction processing. The device of Fig. 2 can be programmed in any desired manner including by loading a computer program from an optical disk 72 by an optical disk drive 70. This optical disk drive 70 is both readable and writeable, if desired, and can be implemented using any desired type of optical reading and writing device including a CD-ROM, a CD-R, a DVD
device, a magneto-optical drive, or any other type of drive or storage medium. The device of Fig. 2 can also receive data from and be programmed by information from a floppy disk 76 which is written to or read from by a floppy disk drive 74. As alternative manners of proglil"""ing, the programs can also be supplied via the communication interface 56, or from a keyboard 82, or in any other desired manner.
In order to store large amounts of data and have fast access to this data, the data, and possibly the computer instructions used to carry out the invention may be stored on a hard disk drive 78. There is a printer 80 for printing out any type of desired information including the sales draft which is signed by a consumer at the store for the credit card or debit card transaction, information of all transactions which occur at the stores, the credit card statements and rewards and privileges, the computer code used to carry out the invention, the checks which are used to pay the sellers or merchants for the transaction, or any other desired inforrnation.
A keyboard 82 is used to enter comm~n~ into the device of Fig. 2 and may be implemented with a graphical pointing device such as a mouse, if desired. The device also includes a display 84 which may be implemented in any desired manner including using a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), a Liquid Crystal Display, a Light Emitting Diode display, a plasma display, or any other desired display. A computer bus 88 is utilized to connect the components of the device illustrated in Fig. 2.
Fig. 3 illustrates a programmed general purpose computer which thus becomes a special purpose device which carries out desired functions of the invention using computer code, for example. The computer device 100 illustrated in Fig. 3 is utilized by the transaction processing system 26, and any entity which wants to access the database 30 of Fig. 1 CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 including the mall owner or manager 32, the stores 34, the mall credit card program management 36, and the marketers 38. Typically, in order to assure that the database 30 remains secure and available only to authorized entities, various security precautions may be used such as encryption, or use of a password, for example. The computer 100 illustrated in Fig. 3 contains a central processing unit 104 which contains the various components typically found within a computer including the components illustrated in Fig. 2. The system 100 is illustrated as utili7ing the display 84, the optical disk drive 70, and the floppy disk drive 74.
To input information into the computer 100, the keyboard 82 and a graphical pointing device such as a mouse 102 may be utili7e~1 Fig. 4 illustrates a cash register system which is typically utilized within a store by the present invention. The cash register 120 contains a display 122 which is illustrated as displaying numeric data in Fig. 4 but the size of the display may be enlarged or changed to display alphanumeric data including information of the consumer and his or her account. The cash register 120 contains one or more keypads 124 not only for entering numericinformation but also alphabetical information, if desired, and transaction information. The cash register 120 may include a magnetic card reader 126 which reads credit card information from magnetically encoded credit cards. The cash register 120 may include a smart card reader 130 which contain a memory chip with account information. The cash register 120 has a cash drawer 128 and a bar code reader 132 for sc~nning bar codes attached to merchandise which is being purchased. The bar code reader 132 may also be used to obtain account information or any other information. Also illustrated in Fig. 4 is a PIN (Personal Identification Number) pad 134 which is connected to the cash register 120 and utilized by customers to enter the PINs of their cards, as needed, for security purposes in order to prevent fraudulent use of their cards. The PIN pad 134 contains a keypad 136 and a display 138.
As an alternative to or in addition to the cash register 4 including a magnetic card reader 126, a separate magnetic card reader such as a magnetic card reader 150 illustrated in Fig. 5 may be utilized with this invention. The magnetic card reader 150 may be interfaced to the cash register 120. The magnetic card reader contains a display 154 for displaying alphanumeric information, includes a slot 156 through which a credit card is swiped in order to read the encoded information on the credit card, and a keypad 158 for inputting CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 information into the magnetic card reader 150. The magnetic card reader 150 is connected to a printer, or alternatively includes a printer therein.
In addition to or as an alternative to using a magnetic card reader, a smart card reader 170 may be utilized with this invention which is either interfaced with or separate from the cash register 120. The magnetic card reader includes an alphanumeric display 172, a keypad 174, and an opening 176 into which the smart card cont~inin~ a memory chip is inserted. In addition to the devices illustrated in Figs. 4-6 for inputting account information, the information of the consumer's account can be entered in any desired manner including through the use of a keypad or keyboard, for example.
Fig. 7 transaction processing system 26 illustrated in Fig. 1. There is a transaction authorization computer 204 connected to a communication interface 202 which processes requests for authorization from the transaction processing and communication device 24 of Fig. 1. The communication interface can be any type of interface device and, for example, interfaces with a phone line and/or network communication line. The transaction authorization computer 204 is implemented, for example, using at least some of the components illustrated in Fig. 2. When the transaction authorization computer 204 receives a request to authorize a transaction, it looks up in database 30 account information for the consumer and determines whether the transaction should be approved or authorized.
Transaction authorization computer 204 transmits the decision through the communication interface 202 back to the transaction processing and communication device 24.
The system of Fig. 7 includes a billing and reward/privilege processing computer 206 which is utilized to generate bills for the consumer and also provide the consumer with the rewards or privileges, or an indication that the rewards or privileges exist and can be obtained. The bills and rewards/privileges are generated on a regular basis, for example, each month, or alternatively are generated when predetermined thresholds are reached, or alternatively, at any other desired time. In order to generate the bill and rewards/privilege, the billing and reward/privilege processing computer 206 interfaces with the database 30 in order to determine the account information. A printer (not illustrated) is connected to the billing and reward/privilege processing computer. Further, a printer may be utilized with any of the computers illustrated In Fig. 7 to print checks, statements, rewards and/or privileges.
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 When the consumer makes a payment in response to a bill, the payments are received by the consumer payment processing computer 208 which enters the payment information in the ~l~t~b~ce 30 and updates the account information of the consumer stored in the database 30.
The transaction processing system illustrated in Fig. 7 also includes a seller payment generating computer 210. A seller or merchant submits sales drafts, which are instruments showing an obligation on cardholders' part to pay money such as the sales amount to the card issuer which then pays the merchant or acquiring bank. The seller payment generating computer generates a payment to the seller or merchant based on a predetermined payment schedule and a merchant discount is billed to the seller or merchant on a monthly basis. As an alternative to paying the seller in full and then billing the merchant discount on a monthly basis, the merchant may be paid the value of the sales drafts less the merchant discount. A
merchant discount is a percentage of the retail sale which the merchant pays as a fee for the processing of the credit card transaction. The sales drafts are generated electronically by the transaction processing and communication device 24 illustrated in Fig. 1 using an electronic registration process and create transaction registration information. This transaction registration information is the sales drafts which are transmitted from the store to the transaction processing system. Alternatively, the transaction registration information can be considered to be the request for authorization. The sales draft information can be electronically generated and stored in the cash register 120, by the magnetic card reader 150, or by the smart card reader 170. Therefore, the sales draft information can be transmitted in electronic form to the transaction processing system. Alternatively, the sales draft in paper form which contains the customer's ~ign~tl-re and is generated by a printer which is part of the cash register, or attached to the cash register, magnetic card reader 150, or smart card reader 170, is submitted.
In Fig. 7, there are illustrated four separate computers 204, 206, 208, and 210 and a single database 30. Any number of computers may be lltili7~cl Also, a single database 20 has been illustrated in Fig. 7, although the invention can be implemented using one or more shared databases, or by keeping duplicate copies of the same information for example. The database can be implemented using any type of prog~ techniques including based on CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 known commercially available database engines such as those available from Oracle, or from Microsoft, such as Microsoft Access, for example.
Fig. 8 illustrates an alternative manner of implementing the transaction processing system 26. The system of Fig. 8 is typical of a transaction processing system utilized for processing Visa or MasterCard transactions. However if desired, a system such as that illustrated in Fig. 7 can be utilized to process Visa or MasterCard transactions and other alternative systems can also be used to process Visa or MasterCard transactions.In the transaction processing system of Fig. 8, the requests for authorizations arrive from the transaction processing and communication device 24 of Fig. 1 at a communication interface 220 which is connected to a credit card financial network computer 222. The credit card financial network computer 222 is managed by Visa or MasterCard, for example. The computer 222 performs authorization processing for a transaction. The merchant or store subsequently submits the sales drafts to an acquiring bank, also referred to as a merchant bank. The acquiring or merchant bank computer 224 receives the sales drafts and provides payment to the store and on a monthly basis bills the merchant or store for the merchant discount. Alternatively, the merchant is paid the amount of the sales drafts, less a merchant discount. The acquiring or merchant bank computer 224 receives the sales drafts either in electronic form or in paper format. The acquiring or merchant bank computer 224 then forwards the sales information to the credit card financial network computer 222 which determines which bank issued the credit card used for the transaction and will ultimately collect payment from the consumer.
The card issuing bank computer 228 receives information from the transaction processing computer 226 and is ultimately used to issue the bill to the customer and also the rewards/privileges. In Fig. 8, each of the different computers has its own database. Further, if desired, the database of the credit card financial network computer 222 may be shared with one or more of the acquiring bank computer 224, the transaction processing computer 226, and the card issuing computer 228. The card issuing bank computer 228, for example, will store the transaction information which may be distributed to the mall owner 32, the store 34, the mall credit card program management 36, and the marketers 38, each of Fig. 1, if desired.
Alternatively, this information can be provided by any of the other computers of Fig. 8 which contain this information.
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 In order to efficiently implement the present invention in a Visa or MasterCard credit card processing system, it is desirable to have the processing stages of the transaction pass on the identification of the merchant so that it can be determined whether the merchant is located in a mall in order to provide customers of that merchant which use the plef~l,ed mall credit card with the applopl;ate rewards/privileges. If each entity which processes the transaction in Fig. 8 passes on or outputs the merchant identification information and any other al~plopl;ate information m a known format, there is no difficulty in implementing the present invention in a Visa or MasterCard transaction processing system.
The present invention stores information relating the seller or merchant, the customer, and specific transactions in a database organized using data structures contained in a memory such as a hard disk, optical disk, or RAM, for example. Fig. 9 illustrates a data structure 250 which is used to store information of merchants. The data structure 250, one of which exists for each merchant, includes a merchant name 252, a merchant identifier 254 which is contained in transaction information received by the various computers which process transactions, and a merchant address 256. The data structure 250 includes a mall identifier 258 which indicates whether the merchant is located in or is part of a mall. This mall identifier may be implemented using a one bit flag, may be used to store the name or a code of the mall or mall program with which the merchant is associated, or can store any other desired information which indicates whether the merchant is part of a mall. This mall identifier is utilized to provide accelerated rewards or privileges or rewards or privileges in general to a consumer who shops or performs transactions with this merchant. The mall identifier may be used to indicate that the merchant is associated with a group of merchants having the same landlord, that the merchant is located in a mall, that the merchant is located in a common location, that the merchant is part of a group of multiple merchants which are located in a same enclosed building which constitutes a mall or is at least part of a mall.
The data structure 250 also includes one or more fields 260 for storing account balance information of the merchant such as the total amount of money paid to the merchant, the number of charge back transactions which occur when a credit card holder disputes a charge, and any other desired information. The data structure 250 also includes a link to individual transactions 262 which may be implemented using a pointer, linked list, or any other mechanism which allows access to individual transactions which are associated with CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 this merchant. Alternatively, any other desired manner of implementing the data structure 250 may be equivalently implemented so that the desired functionality is achieved. For example, the data structure 250 may be two databases: one at the transaction processing computer 226 cont~ining the merchant identification and the other at the card issuing bank computer 228 cont~ining the address and the associated mall. These two data bases will be linked or related using any desired common features found in each data base.
In addition to storing information in the data structure 250, which indicates whether the merchant is associated with the mall credit card program, it is preferable to know and be able to identify the customers which are associated with the mall credit card program. A data structure 270 is utilized to store information of the customer including the customer name 272, the customer credit card number 274, and a customer address 276. The data structure 270 also includes a field 278 which indicates whether the customer is a mall credit card customer. This field may be implemented using a one bit flag in a database which is dedicated to a particular type of mall credit card, or alternatively, can contain any number of characters or may be implemented as any desired field which indicates the credit card program of which the customer is a member. The field 278 which indicates that the customer is a mall card customer and is to receive the mall card rewards and privileges may be implemented as part of the credit card number field 274. The first four digits of other code of a credit card typically indicate the program and bank associated with the credit card.
Therefore, the credit card number itself may be used to designate whether the customer is a mall card customer and thus a dedicated field 278 may become unnecessary and can be implemented in field 274, if desired.
The data structure 270 also includes a field 280 which indicates rewards/privileges information of the customer. This field 280 indicates any desired information of the rewards and privileges such as the total accumulated privileges, the privileges or rewards which have not been used up, the type of privileges or rewards which exist, or any other information associated with the rewards and privileges. The data structure 270 also includes field 282 which stores account balance information of the customer such as the total amount owed, amount paid, and any other information associated with the account balance of the customer.
This field may also be used to implement other information such as the interest rate and statement date of the customer. Further, the data structure 270 includes a field 284 which is a CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 link to the individual credit card transactions or other transactions of the customer. Each transaction of the customer whether a payment or charge is stored. The field 284 can be utilized to indicate where the information of the transactions is located.
Fig. 11 illustrates a data structure 290 for storing information related to individual transactions of a mall credit card customer. The data structure 290 includes a field 292 which indicates the credit card number, a field 294 for storing a reference number of the transaction which is a unique number associated with the transaction which can be used for reference purposes, a date of transaction field 296, a field indicating the date of posting 298, and a field 300 cont~ining the identification of the merchant with whom the transaction took place.
Further, the data structure 290 includes a field 302 indicating the amount of the transaction, a field 304 which provides a description of the transaction which may be as broad as the name and location of the store at which the transaction took place, or may include more detailed information such as the exact goods or services which have been purchased. Data structure 290 also contains a field 306 which is a mall transaction indicator. This field is set to indicate whether the transaction took place at a mall or other store or location at which the consumer earns privileges or accelerated privileges. As an alternative to a separate field 306 which is an indication that the transaction took place in a mall at which special privileges or rewards are provided, this field may be equivalently implemented using the merchant ID field 300 alone. If it is known that a specific merchant is located in a mall at which the consumer is to receive a privilege or reward or an accelerated privilege or reward, there is no need to have a separate field 306 and the information provided by 306 can be provided by analyzing the merchant ID field 300 or other similar field.
A discussion of the operation of the invention with respect to the rewards and privileges which are provided to a consumer based on the occurrence of a transaction using a credit or debit card will now be described with respect to Figs. 12-16. Fig. 12 illustrates a process of setting up the database or databases which are utilized with this invention. After starting the registration process of Fig. 12, step 320 selects the stores which are to be included in the rewards/privileges program. Step 320 selects the stores based on the desired criteria such as stores in a same mall, stores having a same landlord, stores location, stores selling related products. Step 322 then determines identification of stores which are to be included in the rewards/privileges program. This identification is the merchant identification which is CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 associated with credit or debit card transactions. An exemplary manner of implementing the present invention and determining the identification of stores which are to be included in the rewards/privileges program is simply requesting from the merchant or store the identity of their merchant processing bank and approlll;ate identifier. As an alternative the desired information may be obtained from the credit card company such as visa, MasterCard, the Discover card, or the American Express Card. As another alternative, if this system is being implemented by one of the major credit card companies that maintain a "closed loop system"
in which a single entity captures and processes card member and transaction information such as the Discover Card or American Express Card, the company implementing this process already knows the merchant identification or merchant identifier so there is no problem in determining this information. According to a further alternative embodiment, the merchant is asked for his merchant identifier. Step 222 also provides the information contained within the data structure 250 of Fig. 9 and more specifically fields 254 and 258.
Next, step 324 registers the customer which is to participate in the rewards/privileges program in the database. This registration process is utilized to create the data structure 270 illustrated in Fig. 10. This registration process can be performed during the process of registering the customer for the mall credit card. Step 324 would indicate in field 278 of data structure 270 that the customer is a mall card customer and is to receive rewards and privileges.
Fig. 13 illustrates an alternative manner of performing step 322 of Fig. 12. In order to determine the merchant identifier, after starting, step 340 is performed in which a test transaction is performed at the merchant using a test credit card. For example, assuming it is desired to determine the merchant identifier of store X in a specific mall, a new credit card could be issued for performing test transactions in store X. The person performing this transaction would record the amount of the transaction in step 342 along with other information such as the credit card number, the date of the transaction, and the store in which the transaction is performed. If the transaction processing system of Fig. 8 were used, the information of the transaction which is passed from the acquiring or merchant bank 224 to the transaction processing computer 226, or alternatively, the information which is passed to the card issuing bank computer 228 could be analyzed and compared with the test transaction performed in step 340 to determine the type of information which is passed from the CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 acquiring or merchant bank computer 224 to the transaction processing computer 226, or alternatively to the card issuing bank computer 228. Therefore, even if the merchant refused to provide its merchant ID or the sponsor of the credit card such as Visa or MasterCard refused to release the merchant ID of a particular merchant, some type of information is still passed on to the transaction processing computer 226 and the card issuing bank computer 228 and by analyzing the hand-recorded information (e.g., the information of the transaction written down when the transaction occurs) and the information which comes through to these computers, the merchant ID can be determined. If difficulties exist in determining the merchant ID, a transaction can be performed at a merchant having a known merchant ID.
Therefore, the transaction processing computer 226 and the card issuing bank computer 228 will be provided with this merchant ID of a known merchant and thus, the format of the fields which are passed from the acquiring bank computer to the other computers can be analyzed in order to determine the merchant ID of the store. After the analysis of step 344 is performed, step 346 stores in a database the name of the merchant and the merchant identification information. For example, this information can be stored in the data structure 250 illustrated in Fig. 9.
Figs. 14A and 14B are a flowchart of a process utilized during a credit or debit card transaction between a merchant or seller and a customer or consumer. In Fig. 14A, after starting, in step 360, a transaction is performed between the merchant or seller and the customer or consumer. During this transaction, it is not necessary for the consumer to provide cash directly to the seller but this transaction is performed using a debit card, credit card, check, or other non-cash manner of payment. The transaction process is an electronic transaction registration process in which information of the transaction is electronically created, for example, using the cash register 120, the magnetic card reader 150, and/or the smart card reader 170. In step 362, the merchant then requests authorization or approval for the transaction. This step is typically performed by transmitting via a phone line or other communication line information about the transaction including the amount of the transaction and the credit card number. The authorization request is a form of payment guarantee information and also serves as transaction registration information. As an alternative to performing a tr~n~mi~sion of an authorization request, the merchant may be provided with its CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 own database of valid credit cards which can be examined in order to make a detcrmin~tion at the merchant's location as to whether the transaction should be approved.
The request for authorization is typically transmitted to the transaction processing system 26. Further, this request for authorization approval can be transmitted to the communication interface 204 and the transaction authorization computer 204 of Fig. 7, or alternatively the communication interface 220 and credit card financial network computer 222 of Fig. 8 or even to the card issuing bank computer 228 of Fig. 8.
Transaction processing system 26, in step 364, looks up the records of customers to determine authorization information. This look-up process typically examines the available credit of the credit card. Step 364 also puts a hold on the credit limit of the credit card which is equal to the amount of the transaction, but this hold amount is not actually charged to the credit card at this time in accordance with a p-er~lled embodiment. Assuming the transaction is approved, step 364 also transmits authorization information to the merchant. After the merchant receives authorization, a piece of paper is usually printed by a cash register having a printer, or printer attached to a card reader, or other printer which contains the credit card information and the amount of the transaction. This piece of paper is usually referred to as a sales draft and is signed by the consumer. This sales draft which has been created is preferably the transaction registration information which has been generated using an electronic registration process. The sales draft is preferably transmitted in electronic form from the merchant to a sales draft processor, also referred to as an acquiring bank, for example. Thereafter, the acquiring bank or other component of the transaction processing system 26 pays the merchant the amount of the transaction minus a merchant discount in step 368. The tr~n~mi~sion of the sales draft in step 366 is a tr~n~mi~.~ion of the registration information, commonly referred to as settlement information, from the seller to a processing agency in order for the seller to receive monetary compensation for the transaction. This merchant discount is typically between 1% and 4% of the amount of the transaction, although any discount including a zero merchant discount can be used, if desired. Control then flows to the process of Fig. 14B. While step 368 illustrates that the merchant is paid the amount of the transaction less the merchant discount, this step can be alternatively implemented by paying the merchant the full price of the transaction and then billing the merchant on a monthly basis for the merchant discount.
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 After the sales draft is transmitted to the sales draft processor, which may be the acquiring bank or any other entity, the transaction information may pass through a plurality of different entities such as the various computers illustrated in Fig. 8. In step 380 of Fig. 14B, a credit card transaction record is created. This record contains the information illustrated in the data structure of Fig. 11. The credit card transaction record is created by the transaction processing system 26 and may be stored in the database 30 of Fig. 1. Referring to Fig. 7, the transaction authorization computer 204 or the billing and reward/privilege processing computer 206 or alternatively a separate computer connected to the database 30 which is used for processing sales drafts is used to create the credit card transaction record. Referring to Fig. 8, the credit card transaction record may be created by any one of the computers illustrated therein.
In order to complete the credit card transaction record, step 382 determines if the customer is a mall card customer. If the customer is a mall card customer, the customer may be entitled to privileges or rewards or advanced privileges or rewards if the transaction occurred at an authorized mall. It is possible to determine if the customer is a mall card customer based on field 278 of the data of the data structure 270 illustrated in Fig. 10, or alternatively using the field 274.
If there is an ~ffirm~tive response to step 382 it is determined that the customer is a mall card customer and control proceeds to step 384 which determine if the merchant is located in a participating mall. Step 384 may be performed by ex~mining field 258 of data structure 250 illustrated in Fig. 6, or alternatively field 254. If both steps 382 and 384 result in an ~ffirm~tive response, step 386 sets a mall transaction indicator corresponding to the transaction and calculates the reward amount. This step corresponds to setting the mall transaction indicator 306 of the data structure 290 illustrated in Fig. 11. From step 386 or a negative response from steps 382 or 384, the process 14B ends.
Fig. 15 is a flowchart of the processing performed when determining rewards and also printing the bills which are sent to consumers. After starting in Fig. l S, a customer is chosen in step 402 for whom a bill is to be generated and rewards and privileges determined. This choosing of a customer can be performed in any desired manner determining bills and rewards/privileges on a specific date each month for a group of customers, deterrnining all of the customers at the end of the month, or in any desired manner. After a customer is chosen, CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 step 404 determines if the customer is a mall card customer. This step may be performed by ex:~mining the field 278 of the data structure 270 of Fig. 10 or alternatively field 274. If step 404 determines that the customer is not a mall card customer, control proceeds to step 406 where an ordinary billing process is performed for the customer. This ordinary billing process may be a conventional billing process and includes the possibility of giving the customer some type of reward or privilege, if desired, even if the customer is not a mall card customer.
If step 404 determines that the customer is a mall card customer, control proceeds with step 408 which determines the in-mall transactions of the customer. Step 408 examines the mall transaction indicator 306 in the data structure 290, illustrated in Fig. 11, for each record 20. As an alternative to e~mining the field 306 which is a specialized mall transaction indicator, the merchant ID 300 of the data structure 290 may be examined to determine if the merchant ID corresponds to a merchant which participates in the mall credit card privilege and rewards program. From step 408, step 410 determines the rewards and privileges for the customer based on the in-mall transactions. An example monetary based reward is 2% of the transactions performed with mall merchants. Other percentage and monetary rewards including coupons, bank checks, cash back, or any other type of reward can be given. As an alternative to providing a cash or cash equivalent reward, non-monetary privileges may also be provided based on the in-mall transactions performed by the customer.
For example, special mall privileges may be provided to the customer based on the level of in-mall spending, as explained above.
Rewards and/or privileges may be based on non-mall transactions. Step 412 determines the non-mall transactions which may be performed in a manner as step 408 is performed and step 412 examines field 306 which is the mall transaction indicator and/or merchant ID 300 in the data structure 290 of Fig. 11. Step 414 then determines the rewards/privileges for the customer based on non-mall transactions. The rewards/privileges provided for the non-mall transactions are preferably less than the rewards/privileges provided for an equivalent amount of in-mall transactions. For example, if 2% of the mall transactions are provided to the consumer, 1% of non-mall transactions may be provided to the consumer. Further, for non-mall transactions, if desired, no privileges are given.
However, if desired, privileges can be provided. After the transactions are reviewed and CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 processed and the money owed and rewards and/or privileges are determined, step 416 then prints a bill and a privileges statement such as the bill and privileges and rewards statement illustrated in Fig. 16. The bill and rewards statement may be printed as a unitary document as illustrated in Fig. 16, or alternatively are generated as separate documents. According to the preferred embodiment of the invention, the monetary reward such as the bank check is not necessarily issued with each statement but issued with a statement after a predetermined threshold value such as ten mall dollars has beeri reached. The issuing of mall dollars in predetermined increments, such as ten dollars, will elimin~te the need to process a larger number of smaller value checks or monetary rewards. In addition to providing the consumer with the indication of the rewards/privileges, the amount of reward or privilege may also be transmitted to store or mall management. Therefore, the store and/or mall management can facilitate the redemption of the rewards and/or privileges. For example, if a customer is to receive special privileges such as free use of a coat or package check, valet parking, reserved parking, or any other desired privilege, it may be desirable to transmit this information to the entity which implements these privileges programs. For example, the coat and package check entity can be provided with a print-out of people that are permitted to use the facility without charge. Similar printouts or tr:~n~mi~ion of information may be used for other privileges. In addition to or as alternative to the above method of operation, a customer merely has to show his or her credit card as identification to receive the in-mall benefits or privileges.
As an alternative to steps 408 to 414 of Fig. 15, first all transactions, whether in-mall or out-of-mall are determined and a reward of 1% is determined for these transactions. Next, the in-mall transactions are determined and another 1% reward is provided for these in-mall transaction. The net result is that the customer is provided with 2% of in-mall spending and 1% of out-of-mall spending. The det~rmin~tion of non-monetary privileges provided in or at the mall can be determined in any desired manner by evaluating the in-mall spending amount.
Fig. 16 is an image of an exemplary credit card statement 450 which includes a reward at the bottom thereof. This statement is an exemplary statement and many fields which will be used on an actual statement are left blank. For example, the customers' address is not filled in but on an actual statement the customers' address will appear in the fields Customers addl and Customers add2. Other features appearing on the credit card statement CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 include information of the rewards such as the prior reward balance, rewards which include 1 % of all purchases, and an additional 1 % reward for in-mall purchases.
The reward certificate at the bottom of the credit card statement 450 is actually a MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) bank check which is issued by the issuing bank.
The bank check, labeled in Fig. 16 as a reward certificate, provides what is referred to as mall dollars. In order to encourage further shopping at a store associated with the mall credit card program, the certificate is preferably redeemable only at merchants associated with the mall credit card program or the loyalty program, discussed below. In order for a customer to redeem this certificate, it is necessary for the merchant to accept the reward certificate.
Therefore, even though the present invention may be implemented without the merchant' s willing participation because the acceptance of a typical credit card such as a Visa card automatically makes the merchant a participant in the mall credit card rewards and privileges program, the bank check requires merchants to be willing to participate in the redemption of this reward. However, it is not seen that this will be a problem as the rewards certificate is guaranteed by a bank and is thus a guaranteed payment to the merchant. A merchant may accept and process the rewards certificates as it would a customer's personal bank check.
However, if a particular merchant refuses to accept the reward certificate that is a bank check, the customer has the option of using the reward certificate at another merchant that is willing to accept the certificate. Alternately, a different type of reward can be provided such as a coupon, cash, or a cash equivalent, or any other desired reward. While not illustrated on the statement 450 in Fig. 16, the indication of a privilege or a coupon which provides a privilege may also be included on the statement or alternatively mailed with this statement.
Another feature of this invention includes the collection of information as to individuals' spending patterns at a mall. Until the present invention, there has not been an effective manner of monitoring a consumer's mall spending in order to determine the best mall customers. As the present invention monitors in-mall transactions and stores information of the various in-mall transactions, a ~t~b~e of information which would be very useful to advertisers and marketers is created. This data base could be analyzed in any desired manner. This information in the database can be distributed to any desired parties.
Fig. 17 is a flowchart illustrating the tr~n~mi~ion of mall customer data to various entities.
After starting in Fig. 17, the database is read in step 430. In steps 432, 434, 436 and 438, the CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 data within the database cont~inin~ mall customer's spending habits is transmitted to various entities such as the mall owner in step 432, individual stores in step 434, to the mall credit card program management company in step 436, or to marketing org~ni7~tions in step 438.
The tr~n~mi~ion of data to the mall owner and the credit card program management in steps 432 and 436 may take place at a regular interval such as every two weeks, months or any other desired interval. However, the tr~n~mi~sion of data in steps 434 and 438 preferably takes place on a project-by-project basis and/or as requested by the stores and marketing organizations.
In order to honor the privacy of individuals, specific names and addresses may be shielded from various entities such as marketing org~ni7~tions or stores. Therefore, in order to provide a valuable service to the malls and their tenants (stores) or marketing org~ni7~tions, the stores or marketing org~ni7~tions may request that advertisement literature be sent to mall credit card customers meeting certain criteria such as their in-mall spending level, for example. Then a third party can provide such a m~iling which contains information of the stores or marketing org~ni7~tions choice.
Fig. 18 illustrates a database management system utilized to implement a loyaltyaspect system of the present invention. According to this aspect of the invention, customers are provided with a card containing their identification in order to be able to track purchases made by customers. The loyalty card is implemented using either the mall credit or debit card discussed above, or alternatively as a separate card which does not serge as a payment vehicle.
In Fig. 18, there is illustrated the mall cont~inin~ a plurality of stores, one of which is the store 22. The transaction processing and communication device 24 is a piece of hardware which inputs the identification of the customer along with the amount of the transaction and may be implemented using the cash register 120 illustrated in Fig. 4, the magnetic card reader 150 illustrated in Fig. 5, the smart card reader 170 illustrated in Fig. 6, the bar code reader 132 of Fig. 4, or alternatively using the keyboard 82 of the computer l O0 illustrated in Fig. 3.
The transaction processing and communication device 24 communicates information of the transaction including the amount of the transaction, the store at which the transaction took place, and the identification of the customer to a database 490 which is utilized to store the transaction information of the customer. Further details of the transaction such as the items CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 purchased or type or category of the items purchased are transmitted, if desired. Preferably, a loyalty database 490 stores only information of the transactions which occurred within the mall or alternatively, stores other transaction information such as transactions with other stores which are located outside of the malls, various associations of stores, and any other desired information. When the payment vehicle at the store 22 is the mall credit card discussed above, the information of the transaction is stored in the database 30 illustrated in Fig. 1 which may be shared with the system illustrated in Fig. 18, and/or the database 30 may be part of the loyalty database 490.
Also according to this aspect of the invention, it is desired to know information of the customer which is associated with a partner such as a communications or telecommunications partner, a financial services partner, a travel partner, or any other type of partner including a gas station company, car rental company, or hotel chain. A partner database 494 is used to store information of the customers' usage or spending with the partner. The partner database 494 also includes a separate processing system such as a computer for inputting and m~n~ging the information within the partner database.
The system of Fig. 18 includes a reward processing system 492 which inputs the information of the loyalty database 490 and the partner database 494 in order to determine the rewards and/or privileges provided to the customer 28. The reward processing system 492 is a computer system which is programmed according to the teachings of the invention in order to carry out the desired functions. The reward processing system 492 which is a processing facility may be located at the location of the loyalty database 490 and/or the location of the partner database 494. If the loyalty ~l~t~b~e 490 and partner database 494 are located at separate locations, each may constitute a processing facility.
If the reward partner which established or provides information to the partner database 494 is a telecommunications or communications company and provides telephony services, the services which may be provided by the communications company include long distance telephone service, local telephone service which is telephone service to residential facilities such as homes or apartments which is preferably a wire-based system such as a conventional telephone system but can also be implemented using a wireless local phone system or a different type of wired system such as a cable based telephone system, for example. The communication company may also provide wireless telephone services such as a CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 conventional analog cellular telephone service, a digital wireless telephone service, a hybrid wireless service which utilizes both analog and digital modes of communication, or a digital PCS (personal communication services) telephone services. The communication company may also provide internet access to the customer through an internet account which preferably includes access to the world wide web and also e-mail service. A partner to the system may also be a communications partner which provides television signals to a customer including satellite services such as a direct satellite service (DSS), a cable or fiber optics based television service, or any other type of television service provider including any type of wire and wireless systems including a wireless television system which operates on microwave frequencies from land mounted transmitters.
In order to implement the loyalty program and database management method and system, various data structures are utilized which are stored in any type of the previously described memories. Fig. 19 illustrates a data structure 502 which is utilized to store the amount the customer spends in the partner program. The data structure 502 contains a field 504 which stores the identification of the partner program. For example, if the partner program is being implemented with a specific telecommunications company, the name of that telecommunications company may be stored in field 504. Alternatively, further information of the program may be stored in field 504 such as an identification of the partner program including the subprogram with the partner which indicates the subprogram such as long distance service, for example. The data structure 502 also includes a field 506 for storing the customer identifier. The customer identifier field 506 stores the customer identifier in any desired form which may be utilized including in the form of a credit card number or reference number of any other identification which is unique to the customer such as a social security number or a specially assigned number or alpha-numeric sequence. The data structure 502 also includes a field 508 for storing the amount the customer spent in the partner program.
This field 508 is implemented to show the amount the customer spent in the partner program and/or the number of services used. For example, the amount may indicate the total long distance spending of the customer over a period of one year. Alternatively, the field 508 may be implemented merely to show that the customer obtains a certain service from the partner without regard to the amount spent. Such a system could be feasible, for example, in providing a local telephone service as the price of this service does not vary much once a CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 customer requests a specific type of service. However, the storage of the existence of the customer being a participant in the program can be utilized with any type of service which is being provided including long distance, internet access, television service, or any other service. The data structure 502 is preferably stored in the partner database 494 illustrated in Fig. 18.
Fig. 20 illustrates a data structure 520 which is utilized to store information of the customer in the loyalty database 490 of Fig. 18. The data structure 520 stores information of the customer's transactions in the associated stores such as the stores which are located in one or more malls, for example. In the data structure 520 of Fig. 20, there is a field 522 which stores a customer identifier. This customer identifier is a unique identifier of the customer and is implemented using any unique identifier such as the mall credit card number, the customer identifier which is utilized in field 506 of the data structure 502, or any other assigned unique series of numbers, letters, or other characters. A customer name field 524 is utilized to store the customer's name and the customer address field 526 is utilized to store the address of the customer. An account balance information field 528 stores the information of the usage and spending patterns of the customer and may include a total amount of spending performed in a mall or malls and or other ~ffili~tecl stores. For each customer, information of the individual transactions are also stored and there is a link to transactions field 530 which is utilized to indicate the locations of the individual transactions which are stored in a data structure such as that illustrated in Fig. 21. This link may be implemented as a pointer or other address. Alternatively, the transactions of the customer may be stored directly with or in the data structure 520.
Fig. 21 illustrates a data structure 540 which is utilized to store information of the individual transactions of the customer with the stores participating in the loyalty program.
The data structure 540 includes a field 542 for storing the customer identifier. The customer identifier field 542 is the unique identification of the customer and if desired, corresponds to the customer identifier field 522 of Fig. 20. There is a reference number field 544 which is utilized to store a unique reference number or characters of each transaction of the consumer.
A date of transaction field 546 stores the date on which the transaction occurred and a merchant ID field 548 stores the identification of the merchant at which the transaction occurred. There is an amount of transaction field 550 which stores the total amount of the CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 purchase and a description field 552 which is utilized to store a description of the transaction such as the type of goods or services purchased or a more detailed description of the goods or services purchased. Alternatively, the description could contain broader information such as the store name or location or the category of goods which were purchased.
Fig. 22 is a flowchart illustrating an overview of the loyalty management process performed by the present invention. After starting, step 572 is performed which is a registration process in which the customer registers to be in the loyalty program. Preferably, this registration process registers the user with the loyalty database 490 and the partner database 494. If the customer already has a mall credit card, it may not be necessary to register the customer with the loyalty database. However, this registration may still be performed, even if the user has a mall credit card and if desired, may be utilized to issue to the customer a separate loyalty card. In this manner, the customer can pay for the transactions within the mall using either the mall credit card or another payment method with the loyalty card and in both situations, the complete in-mall spending patterns of the consumer are captured. Alternatively, the loyalty aspect of the invention may beimplemented without using the mall credit card.
In step 504, information of partner program usage and spending for the consumer is stored. Preferably, this information is stored in the field 508 of the data structure 502. When the reward or privilege which is later determined is based on spending with the partner program, the amount of spending with the partner program will be stored in step 574.
However, if the dollar amount spent with the partner is not utilized in the formula to determine the rewards and/or privileges provided to the consumer, the information which is stored only needs to be of the participation of the customer with the partner program. For example, if the partner program is a flat fee internet service, the dollar amount of this internet service is not important as it is known. The only thing which needs to be stored is the existence of the customer participating in this partner program. A similar type of information may be stored for any other partner program which is utilized.
Next in Fig. 22, in step 576 the customer performs a purchase and the information of the purchase transaction is stored. In the preferred embodiment, only purchases within stores associated with one or more malls are stored. However, it is also possible to implement the system to use stores other than mall stores which can include any other store or stores CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 associated with this or another loyalty program. According to one embodiment of this aspect of the invention, the customer's purchases are tracked using the mall credit or debit card discussed above. However, in another embodiment, a separate loyalty card is utilized which is separate from the instrument which is utilized to pay for the transaction. Fig. 23 illustrates this process of performing the customer purchase without using the mall credit card.
In Fig. 23 after starting, the customer pays the merchant for the amount of the transaction in step 590. This payment may be performed ~ltili7ing cash, a check, credit card, debit card or any other desired payment manner. Next, the merchant obtains the identification of the customer and transmits the transaction information to the loyalty database 490 in step 592. The merchant obtains the identification of the customer by swiping a magnetic card through a magnetic card reader, by reading a memory chip on a smart card, by reading a bar code using a bar code scanner, by entering the identification information using a keypad or keyboard, or in any other desired manner. The transaction information can be captured using the cash register, or entered manually. According to one embodiment, a magnetic card reader which is similar to or the same as a magnetic card reader used to obtain authorization for credit card transactions is utilized to transmit the customer identification and transaction information including the identification of the merchant to the loyalty database 490. If desired, one specific embodiment may be implemented to have the information of the customer stored on a telephone calling card which also serves as the consumer's loyalty member card and acts as his or her identifier in the loyalty program. Thus, the loyalty card which serves as an identification of the consumer is also a card utilized to purchase services from a potential partner, i.e., a communications company, thus further strengthening the loyalty program. In step 594, the transaction information is stored in the database 490 and the process of Fig. 23 then ends.
After performing the customer purchase and storing the transaction information either using the mall credit card or the loyalty card described with respect to Fig. 23, the rewards and/or privileges for the customer are determined in step 578 of Fig. 22. The details of this step of determinin~ rewards or privileges are illustrated in the flowchart or Fig. 24. In Fig.
24, the information of the mall transactions (or other loyalty transactions) is obtained from a database such as the loyalty database 490 in Fig. 18, in step 610. Next, the information of the partner program transaction is determined in step 612. This step is preferably performed by CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 reading the partner ~l~t~b~e 494 of Fig. 18. Next, step 614 determines the base or basic level rewards/privileges using both mall transactions and the partner program transactions. This step can be implemented in different manners. However, an aspect of this step is to use both the mall transactions (or other transactions) and also information from one or more transactions with a partner. According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, if a customer signs up with a specific service of a partner such as long distance telephone service, internet access service, television progr~mmin~; subscriptions, or any other desired partner program, the partner agrees to provide a percentage of the other transactions such as mall transactions to the consumer. In the preferred embodiment, this reward is provided in the form of mall dollars, described above, which is a MICR encoded bank check which is honored by any store in a mall including re~l~u~ . For example, if the customer had $1,000 in spending in the mall over one year and m~int~ined a one year long distance subscription with the partner, the customer would receive a 1% reward of the mall transactions. This 1% reward would be paid for by the partner (e.g., the long distance company), for example. The partner would have an incentive to provide the reward in order to get the customer to utilize the long distance service or other service provided by the partner.
While the partner is willing to provide an incentive to get the customer to switch to or use its services or to purchase goods from the partner, the partners are usually only willing to incur a limited liability or expense in providing the reward. Therefore, the partner may set a maximum amount or cap on the reward for which it is willing to pay. For example, a long distance provider might be willing to provide a long distance customer with, up to $20 per year in mall dollars. In order to limit the liability to the partner, the program might state that the customer is entitled to a 1% rebate or reward of mall purchases up to $2,000 in mall spending. Thus, if the customer reaches the $2,000 maximum, the most the partner would be liable for is $20 in mall dollars or other type of reward. Instead of using mall dollars, cash, coupons, or any other reward or privilege including non-monetary privileges may be issued.
As an alternative and/or enhancement to the 1% reward described above, any otherpercentage, maximum reward, or type of reward or privilege may be ~ltili7e~1 As an alternative to using the above formula of calculating a percentage of mallspending, the partner program may be implemented by stating that a minimum purchase level CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 must be reached and once this minimum purchase level in the mall is reached, the customer will be provided with the reward. For example, the reward may be structured so that when the consumer reaches $2,000 in mall spending, the customer is provided with a reward, provided the customer is associated with a partner program. This loyalty program provides the customer with an incentive to show his or her loyalty card whenever the customer shops.
Each time the customer utilizes the loyalty card when making a purchase, the information is captured and is of value to various entities including the store owners, mall owner, various marketing companies, the colllpally implementing the loyalty program, and anyone else who might have an interest in knowing the purchasing habits of consumers. In order to provide the customer with an incentive to reach the required minimum spending, a monthly or other periodic statement may be issued to the customer which includes a bar graph or athermometer which shows how much spending related to the mall credit card or loyalty program has been performed. The top of the bar graph or thermometer will be the goal which when reached will provide the customer with the reward or privilege.
In the determination of the base rewards/privileges discussed above with respect to step 614, it may be desirable to place a minimum requirement on the purchases required with the partner. For example, it may be necessary to purchase internet access or any other service for a period of one year. Alternatively, a minimum dollar value may be place on the transaction with the partner. For example, it may not be sufficient merely to sign up for a long distance service with the partner but it may be required to spend a minimum value on long distance with that partner before the reward will be provided. For example, it may be necessary to the consumer to spend a total of $10, $15, or $20 per month over the course of a year in order for the customer to be provided with the reward. As an alternative to placing a minimum value on the amount which must be spent with the partner, the actual amount spent with the partner may be used as a factor to determine the reward which will be provided. For example, if the customer performs $10 per month or $120 per year with a long distance provider, the long distance provider may be willing to provide a 0.5% reward to the customer based on in-mall spending. If the customer spends $240 or more per year on long distance, the partner may be willing to provide a 1% reward of mall spending up to a total of $2,000 of in-mall spending for a maximum liability of $20 per year per customer. This alternative may also be modified to apply the rewards against partner spending and the reward would be in ' CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 mall dollars. For example, if a customer spends more than $50 per month in long distance, the reward would be 3% of $50 per month in the form of mall dollars or other type of reward.
After determining the base rewards/privileges in step 614, step 616 determines the advanced or accelerated rewards and/or privileges. A feature of this invention is to accumulate information on customer spending patterns. The use of the loyalty card is one way to accomplish this desired information capture. However, since the partners will typically agree to be liable only to a certain extent, once the agreed upon limit of the reward or privilege is reached, the partner will likely no longer pay for the reward or privilege. If further rewards or privileges are not provided by another party, the customer could lose an incentive to show the loyalty card, also referred to as the mall loyalty card, at each mall transaction. However, the customers who spend the most on the transactions such as the in-mall transactions may be of the most interest to people who are interested in the information relating to the transactions. Therefore, after the base level of rewards and/or privileges which have been agreed to be provided by the partner are reached, another party such as the mall owner or management company, or the mall credit card or mall loyalty card program which sells the data to various agencies such as marketing org~ni~tions and stores may be willing to pay for the advanced or accelerated rewards or privileges. With the continued funding of the rewards and privileges, the customers will continue to utilize the loyalty card and/or mall credit card and the transaction information of the customer will be captured The mall owner or mall management company may provide non-monetary privileges to the large in-mall spenders in order to keep these in-mall spenders loyal to their particular mall. For example, services such as reserved parking, coat and package checks, free gift wrap or any of the other previously described privileges may not cost the mall owner or mall management company a significant amount of money. Therefore, the mall may be willing to provide these advanced or accelerated awards or privileges to the mall's better customers.
Further, the mall owner may provide advanced rewards or privileges to those who do not sign up for a partner program but who use the mall credit card. After reaching a certain level of in-mall spending, the mall owner may provide an advanced status to customers such as "gold", "platinum", or "premiere"- or any other high status level and provide the advanced rewards and privileges to these customers. These added rewards and privileges will provide further CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 incentives for the better mall customers to continue their shopping in the malls associated with the credit card and loyalty card programs. After step 616, the process of Fig. 24 ends.
After determining the rewards and privileges in step 578, step 580 of Fig. 22 isperformed which transmits the customer spending information to any of the entities who are interested in this information including the entities illustrated in Fig. l including the mall owner 32, the stores 34, the mall credit card program management 36, the marketers 38, or the mall loyalty card program managers. The credit card and loyalty card programs allow a robust profile of customer purchase behavior both inside and outside of the mall to be obtained. This customer database may become one of the most comprehensive consumer purchase information sources and will be of significant value to retailers and other markets. The information of the spending habits can provide information to the mall management, tenant retailers, and other marketers in three ways: first, the invention will provide a periodic overview of customers' behavior in individual stores, retail categories, and the overall impact of the program (demonstrating the incremental spending as a result of the program) second, provide ad-hoc customized services on a fee-per-request-basis, and third, provide comprehensive database/~,elillg marketing services on a retainer or per-campaign-basis.
The first category of data services provided to retailers as part of their participation in the loyalty program, mall dollar redemption program, and the mall credit card program, if desired, and may be provided, free of charge or be charged. This data will detail at a macro level how the loyalty card/credit card is working and its impact on the customer segments that matter to respective retailers. The second category of data services will be highly customized data requests For example, retailers may require very specific one-time or ongoing project data to support strategic and promotional initiatives. The services will be billed per the request's analytic and time intensity using a standard rate card. The third category of data services involves providing a vehicle and/or marketing lists to target/solicit specific customers with promotional offers. In this case, the credit card/loyalty card management company will sell the retailer customer lists for their promotional efforts and provide a system where the loyalty card and credit card managers execute the promotional offer by providing inserts into credit card and loyalty card statements.
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 After transmitting customer spending information to the previously described entities and these entities process the information as desired including using their own computers and databases, the process of Fig. 22 ends.
According to another embodiment of the present invention, merchant code information is obtained through failed credit card transaction data. The mall credit program management 36 issues dummy or universal credit cards that, when used to purchase something, are always rejected and no sale is completed. When the merchant at store 22 in Fig. 1 runs the dummy credit card through the transaction processing system 26 using the transaction processing and communication device 24, the sale is never approved. Transaction processing systems 26 m~int~in~ information on approved sales as well as failed sales. This failed data includes the same information as a successful sale including the merchant identifier. Therefore, one may use the dummy card at each merchant to be a part, knowingly or not, of the rewards program.
The resulting failed data is used to collect the merchant identifiers for use in the rewards program.
The group of merchants in the rewards program may be all the merchants in a particular mall or may also be any selection of merchants that one wishes to include in a rewards program. For example, an airline might issue a credit card where rewards are offered when the card is used at certain hotels or for certain rental cars. These other companies may be added to the rewards program without each merchant's agreement since the merchant code information may be obtained through the failed credit card data.
Fig. 25 shows a flow diagram of the steps according to this embodiment. A m~n~ging bank 2500 inputs a list of zip codes 2510 to a transaction processor 2520, such as Visa, which then generates merchant data listing all the merchants in the zip code. This list is stored in a memory 2530. A transaction is carried out at each of these merchants 2540. Failed transaction data 2550 is returned to transaction processor 2520. Transaction processor 2520 forwards the merchant codes to the mallcard database 2560.
Fig. 26 shows the process flow for matching merchant data according to another embodiment of the present invention. A list of malls that wish to start a rewards program and the zip codes of those malls is sent to a credit card processing company such as Visa. Using the zip codes, the transaction processor 2520 generates and outputs a list of all merchants in each zip code. Each list comprises merchants that are located in the shopping malls but also CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 includes merchants located outside of these shopping malls that are in a zip code. One such list of merchants is shown as raw data 2600. Each mall owner also provides a list of stores within a mall, which list is designated as 2605 in Fig. 26. A processor at mall credit card program management 36 compares the lists 2600 and 2605 to perform merchant matching automatically and allows interaction from an operator to match merchants manually 2610.
The result of the comparison is a list 2620 of all merchants that have at least one store in the mall and are in the zip code. For example, store X may have two locations in a zip code therefore X may be on the list two times. But every store on the list will have at least one store in the mall. Once the comparison list is completed, the data is stored in the mallcard database 2630. A processor at the mall credit card program management 36 generates a list 2640 of the tenants in the mall including their merchant ID numbers and stores the information in the mallcard database 2630. This list 2640 is forwarded to the transaction processing system 26 at the company that oversees the credit card transactions. The mall owner 2650 (or agent) examines the tenant list and makes any changes to generate a final tenant list 2670. This allows the mall owner to remove stores incorrectly included on the list.
Fig. 27 shows the process flow for updating the merchant lists in a mallcard database 2740. On a regular basis, such as monthly, the mall owner and the credit card service 2700, such as Visa, enter into a processor at the mall credit card program management 36 a list of new merchants 2710 and merchants that have either left the mall or stopped accepting credit cards 2720. The merchant codes, represented in Fig. 27 as audit data 2730, are collected using the methods discussed above, such as using a fake credit card at each location and gathering the merchant codes from the failed transaction data.
According to the present invention, the mall loyalty card and/or mall credit card may be marketed at a booth or pavilion within a mall. The loyalty and/or mall credit card may be marketed at an exposition pavilion which may be utilized to additionally demonstrate the products or history of the products in an industry serviced by the partner. For example, the pavilion could be an exposition on the world communication technology and its evolution.
This type of booth would attract mall customers for the information which it provides.
Further, this exposition pavilion can provide complementary services such as trials of the internet using the internet service provider, free cellular phone calls or PCS digital phone calls, or provide a vehicle to market any other service or feature associated with the partner.
CA 02237109 1998-0~-07 Such a program could use a mall credit card and/or a mall loyalty card which both serve as a tracking vehicle in order to monitor and store information on various consumer purchases.
The loyalty card, unlike the mall credit card, is not a payment vehicle but serves to track customer mall purchases. Further, mall dollars or other rewards may be accumulated by the purchase of goods or services from any partner such as a telecommunications provider which provides long distance service or any of the previously described services, a mortgage company, or a travel company, for example.
This invention may be conveniently implemented using a conventional general purpose digital computer or microprocessor programmed according to the teachings of the present specification, as will be al)parelll to those skilled in the computer art. Appropriate software coding can readily be prepared by skilled programmers based on the teachings of the present disclosure, as will be apparent to those skilled in the software art. The invention may also be implemented by the plepaldlion of application specific integrated circuits or by interconnecting an appll)pl;ate network of conventional component circuits, as will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Further, the invention further includes the use of any type of credit or debit device including electronic credit and debit devices such as an electronic wallet or any type of point of sale t~rmin~l.
The present invention includes a computer program product which is a storage medium including instructions which can be used to program a computer to perform a process of the invention. The storage medium can include, but is not limited to, any type of disk including floppy disks, optical discs, CD-ROMs, and magneto-optical disks, ROMs, RAMs, EPROMs, EEPROMs, magnetic or optical cards, or any type of media suitable for storing electronic instructions, including carrier waves.
registering in a computer database a set of sellers;
performing a transaction between a seller and a consumer using an electronic transaction process without the consumer directly providing cash to the seller to create transaction information;
receiving the transaction information from a processing agency; and comparing information in the computer database containing the seller with the transaction information to determine if the transaction information is from a seller registered in the computer database.
providing a reward to the consumer, when the comparing step determines that the seller is registered in the computer database.
providing a reward which is a non-monetary privilege.
providing a reward which is a monetary reward.
providing the reward to the consumer on a sheet of paper which includes on the sheet of paper both a description of said transaction and the reward.
providing an indication of a monetary value which is redeemable by the seller.
providing the indication of the monetary value in the form of a bank check which is honored by the seller.
providing a reward which is a non-monetary privilege; and providing a reward which is a monetary reward.
generating, by a computer, an indication that the consumer is to receive the reward.
providing one of a debit card and a credit card from the consumer to the seller for payment by the consumer for the transaction.
providing a reward having a first value when the comparing step determines that the seller is registered in the database; and providing a reward having a second value which is less than the first value, when the determining step determines that the seller is not registered in the database.
the step of providing the reward having a first value provides the user with 2% of the transaction; and the step of providing the reward having a second value provides the user with 1% of the transaction.
registering said sellers because of a same landlord.
registering said sellers located in a mall.
registering said sellers because of a common location.
registering said sellers located in a mall.
generating a report comprising a plurality of transactions between sellers and consumers in order to provide spending patterns.
generating the report in order to provide spending patterns to a mall management company.
generating the report in order to provide spending patterns to the seller.
generating the report in order to provide spending patterns to an entity unrelated to the seller and a mall management company.
obtaining information from a second seller indicating a transaction between the second seller and the consumer; and determining a reward for the consumer based on the information from the second seller combined with the transaction information.
registering the second seller in said computer database.
registering the second seller in a second computer database.
swiping a magnetic card including encoded account information of the consumer through a magnetic card reader.
reading a memory chip including encoded account information of the consumer which is located in a card by a card reader.
comparing, by a credit card processing company, the information in the computer database containing the seller with the transaction information to determine if the transaction information is from a seller registered in the computer database.
transmitting a merchant payment for the transaction from the credit card processing company to the seller.
transmitting a consumer payment for the transaction from the consumer directly to said credit card processing company.
said merchant payment and said consumer payment are the only payments directly related to the transaction.
registering, in a computer database, a group of sellers whose consumers are to receive preferential treatment;
performing a transaction between a seller and a consumer using an electronic process to create transaction information, receiving the transaction information from a processing agency;
comparing information in the computer database containing the group of sellers with the transaction information to determine if the transaction information is from a seller registered in the computer database; and providing a reward to the consumer, when the comparing step determines that the seller is registered in the computer database containing the group of sellers.
providing a reward which is a non-monetary privilege.
providing a reward which is a monetary reward.
obtaining information on a transaction between a consumer and a seller;
obtaining information on a reward;
combining the information of the transaction and the reward in separate sections of a document;
transmitting the document to the customer.
combining the information of the transaction and the reward, the reward being an indication of a monetary value which is redeemable by the consumer.
combining the information of the transaction and the reward, the reward being a bank check having magnetic ink which is honored by the seller.
means for registering sellers in a computer database;
means for performing a transaction between the seller and a consumer using an electronic transaction process without the consumer directly providing cash to the seller and which reads a computer memory provided by the consumer to create transaction information;
means for receiving the transaction information; and means for comparing information in the computer database with the transaction information to determine if the transaction information is from one of the sellers registered in the computer database.
means for providing a reward which is a non-monetary privilege.
means for providing a reward which is a monetary reward.
means for providing the reward to the consumer on a sheet of paper which includes on the sheet of paper both a description of said transaction and the reward.
means for providing an indication of a monetary value which is redeemable by the consumer
means for providing the indication of the monetary value in the form of a bank check having magnetic ink which is honored by the seller.
providing a reward which is a non-monetary privilege; and providing a reward which is a monetary reward.
means for generating an indication that the consumer is to receive the reward.
means for providing one of a debit card and a credit card from the consumer to the seller for payment by the consumer for the transaction.
means for providing a reward having a first value when the means for comparing determines that the seller is registered in the database; and means for providing a reward having a second value which is less than the first value when the means for determining determines that the seller is not registered in the database.
the means for providing the reward having a first value provides the user with 2% of the transaction, and the means for providing the reward having a second value provides the user with 1 % of the transaction.
means for generating a report comprising a plurality of transactions between sellers and consumers in order to provide spending patterns.
means for generating the report in order to provide spending patterns to a mall management company.
means for generating the report in order to provide spending patterns to the seller.
means for generating the report in order to provide spending patterns to an entity unrelated to the seller and a mall management company.
means for registering the second seller in said computer database.
means for registering the second seller in a second computer database which is different from the computer database containing the seller whose customers are to receive preferential treatment.
a magnetic card reader.
a card reader which reads a semiconductor memory on a card.
means for comparing, by a credit card processing company, the information in the computer database containing the seller with the transaction information to determine if the transaction information is from a seller registered in the computer database.
means for transmitting a merchant payment for the transaction from the credit card processing company to the seller.
means for transmitting a consumer payment for the transaction from the consumer directly to said credit card processing company.
said merchant payment and said consumer payment are the only payments directly related to the transaction.
means for registering, in a computer database, a group of sellers which are located in a mall whose consumers are to receive preferential treatment;
a device which performs a transaction between the seller and a consumer using an electronic transaction process to create transaction information;
means for receiving the transaction information from a processing agency;
means for comparing information in the computer database containing the group of sellers with the transaction information to determine if the transaction information is from a seller registered in the computer database; and means for providing a reward to the consumer, when the means for comparing determines that the seller is registered in the computer database containing the group of sellers which are located in the mall.
means for providing a reward which is a non-monetary privilege.
means for providing a reward which is a monetary reward.
means for registering, in a computer database, a seller whose consumers are to receive preferential treatment;
a device which performs a transaction between the seller and a consumer using an electronic transaction process without the consumer directly providing cash to the seller and which reads a computer memory provided by the consumer to create transaction information;
means for receiving the transaction information from a processing agency; and means for comparing information in the computer database containing the seller with the transaction information to determine if the transaction information is from a seller registered in the computer database.
registering a first seller;
registering a second seller;
performing a transaction between the first seller and a consumer using an electronic transaction process which creates first electronic transaction information;
transmitting the first electronic transaction information from the first seller to a processing facility;
performing a transaction between the second seller and the consumer and creating second electronic transaction information;
transmitting the second electronic transaction information from the second seller to the processing facility;
determining a reward for the consumer by multiplying an amount of the transaction between the first seller and the consumer by a value determined using an amount of the transaction between the consumer and the second seller; and transmitting the reward to the consumer.
electronically reading a card containing identification information of the consumer.
swiping the card which includes a magnetic stripe containing the identification information through a magnetic card reader.
reading a memory chip which is part of the card which contains the identification information.
registering the first seller which is located in a mall.
determining sellers which are only located in malls including the first seller; and registering the first seller which is located in a mall.
providing long distance telephone service by the second seller to the consumer.
providing local telephone service by the second seller to the consumer.
providing wireless telephone service by the second seller to the consumer.
providing internet access by the second seller to the consumer.
multiplying an amount of in-mall spending including the transaction between the first seller and the consumer by a value determined using an amount of the transaction between the second seller and the consumer.
paying the first seller by the consumer using one of cash, a check, a credit card and a debit card; and electronically obtaining an identification of the user from a card other than the credit card and debit card to create the first transaction information.
paying the first seller by the consumer using a credit card; and electronically obtaining an identification of the user from the credit card to create the first transaction information.
transmitting the reward which is a monetary reward.
transmitting the reward which is a non-monetary privilege.
determining the amount of the transaction between the consumer and the second seller; and determining said value using the amount of the transaction between the consumer and second seller.
determining an amount of a plurality of other transactions between the consumer and other sellers, wherein the step of determining said value comprises determining said value using the transactions between the consumer and the first seller, and the consumer and the other sellers.
providing an advanced reward to the consumer when an amount of the transactions between the consumer and the first seller and the other sellers exceeds a predetermined sum.
determining an amount of transactions between the consumer and the first seller and other sellers located in the mall, wherein the step of determining and transmitting the reward are only performed when the amount of transactions between the consumer and the first seller and the other sellers located in the mall exceeds a predetermined threshold.
distributing information of the transactions between the consumers and the sellers located in the mall to a marketing agency.
performing a first transaction between a first seller and a consumer using an electronic transaction process which creates first electronic transaction information;
receiving the first electronic transaction information from a processing facility;
performing a second transaction between a second seller and the consumer using an electronic transaction process which creates second electronic transaction information;
receiving the second electronic transaction information from a processing facility;
registering a relationship between a third seller and the consumer, said relationship being unrelated to a payment to the first and second sellers by the consumer; and determining a reward for the consumer by evaluating a sum which includes an amount of both the first and second transactions, when said relationship is registered.
registering that the third seller is to provide a designated service to the consumer.
determining the reward by evaluating the sum which includes summing up the transactions between the first seller, second seller, and other sellers, and multiplying the sum by a value to determine the reward.
determining the reward by analyzing the sum which includes only sellers which are located in a mall.
means for registering a first seller;
means for registering a second seller;
a device configured to perform a transaction between the first seller and a consumer using an electronic transaction process which creates first electronic transaction information;
means for receiving the first electronic transaction information from a processing facility;
means for performing a transaction between the second seller and the consumer and creating second electronic transaction information;
means for transmitting the second electronic transaction information from the second seller to the processing facility;
means for determining a reward for the consumer by multiplying an amount of the transaction between the first seller and the consumer by a value determined using an amount of the transaction between the consumer and the second seller; and means for transmitting the reward to the consumer.
a device which electronically reads a card containing identification information of the consumer.
a magnetic card reader.
a device which reads a memory chip which is part of the card which contains the identification information.
means for providing wireless telephone service by the second seller to the consumer.
means for providing internet access by the second seller to the consumer.
means for multiplying an amount of in-mall spending including the transaction between the first seller and the consumer by a value determined using an amount of the transaction between the second seller and the consumer.
means for paying the first seller by the consumer using one of cash, a check, a credit card and a debit-card, and means for electronically obtaining an identification of the user from a card other than the credit card and debit card to create the first transaction information.
means for paying the first seller by the consumer using a credit card; and means for electronically obtaining an identification of the user from the credit card to create the first transaction information.
means for transmitting the reward which is a monetary reward.
means for transmitting the reward which is a non-monetary privilege.
means for determining the amount of the transaction between the consumer and the second seller; and means for determining said value using the amount of the transaction between the consumer and second seller.
means for determining an amount of a plurality of other transactions between the consumer and other sellers, wherein the means for determining said value comprises means for determining said value using the transactions between the consumer and the first seller, and the consumer and the other sellers.
means for providing an advanced reward to the consumer when an amount of the transactions between the consumer and the first seller and the other sellers exceeds a predetermined sum.
means for determining an amount of transactions between the consumer and the first seller and other sellers located in the mall, wherein the means for determining and transmitting the reward only operate when the amount of transactions between the consumer and the first seller and the other sellers located in the mall exceeds a predetermined threshold.
a device configured to perform a first transaction between a first seller and a consumer using an electronic transaction process which creates first electronic transaction information;
means for receiving the first electronic transaction information from a processing facility;
a device configured to perform a second transaction between a second seller and the consumer using an electronic transaction process which creates second electronic transaction information;
means for receiving the second electronic transaction information from the processing facility;
means for registering a relationship between a third seller and the consumer, said relationship being unrelated to a payment to the first and second sellers by the consumer; and means for determining a reward for the consumer by evaluating a sum which includes an amount of both the first and second transactions, when said relationship is registered.
means for determining the reward by evaluating the sum which includes summing up the transactions between the first seller, second seller, and other sellers, and multiplying the sum by value to determine the reward.
means for determining the reward by analyzing the sum which includes only sellers which are located in a mall.
a field for storing an indication of whether customers of a merchant are to receive preferential treatment, said field being filled with data without receiving authorization from the merchant.
a field for storing a merchant identification.
a field for storing a merchant identification used for processing credit card transactions; and a field for storing an indication of whether the merchant is located in a mall.
the field for storing a merchant identification and the field for storing the indication are the same field.
the field for storing an indication of whether the merchant is located in a mall indicates that customers of the merchant are to receive preferential treatment.
a field for storing an identifier which indicates that the customer is to receive an accelerated reward for shopping in a mall.
a field for storing a name of the consumer.
a magnetic stripe.
a semiconductor memory.
performing a universal card transaction with one of the designated merchants, wherein the transaction is rejected by the transaction system;
receiving rejection transaction data from the transaction system including a merchant identifier corresponding to the merchant associated with the rejected transaction; and storing the received merchant identifier.
receiving updates to the group of designated merchants periodically; and repeating the steps of performing and receiving rejection transaction data and storing for each updated merchant.
receiving a first list of merchant identifiers from a transaction provider of merchants in a zip code;
receiving a second list identifying the designated group of merchants;
creating a third list of merchant identifiers for merchants that are on both the first and second lists; and removing any merchant identifiers on the third list based on predetermined criteria.
periodically modifying the third list.
means for performing a universal card transaction with one of the designated merchants, wherein the transaction is rejected by the transaction system;
means for receiving rejection transaction data from the transaction system including a merchant identifier corresponding to the merchant associated with the rejected transaction; and means for storing the received merchant identifier.
means for receiving updates to the group of designated merchants periodically; and means for repeating the functions of the means for performing, receiving rejection transaction data, and storing for each updated merchant.
means for receiving a first list of merchant identifiers from a transaction provider of merchants in a zip code;
means for receiving a second list identifying the designated group of merchants;
means for creating a third list of merchant identifiers for merchants that are on both the first and second lists; and means for removing any merchant identifiers on the third list based on predetermined criteria.
means for modifying the third list.
performing a universal card transaction with one of the designated merchants;
receiving data on transactions from the transaction system;
distinguishing the special universal card transaction data from other transaction data, the transaction data including a merchant identifier corresponding to the merchant associated with the universal card transaction; and storing the received merchant identifier.
receiving updates to the group of designated merchants periodically; and repeating the steps of performing, receiving, distinguishing and storing for each updated merchant.
means for performing a universal card transaction with one of the designated merchants;
means for receiving data on transactions from the transaction system;
means for distinguishing the special universal card transaction data from other transaction data, the transaction data including a merchant identifier corresponding to the merchant associated with the universal card transaction; and means for storing the received merchant identifier.
means for receiving updates to the group of designated merchants periodically; and means for repeating processing using the means for performing, receiving, distinguishing and storing for each updated merchant.
Priority Applications (2)
|Application Number||Priority Date||Filing Date||Title|
|Publication Number||Publication Date|
|CA2237109A1 true CA2237109A1 (en)||1998-11-07|
Family Applications (1)
|Application Number||Title||Priority Date||Filing Date|
|CA 2237109 Abandoned CA2237109A1 (en)||1997-05-07||1998-05-07||Database marketing information and method and system using same|
Country Status (1)
|CA (1)||CA2237109A1 (en)|
Cited By (3)
|Publication number||Priority date||Publication date||Assignee||Title|
|WO2003098495A1 (en) *||2002-05-20||2003-11-27||Prudential Finance Corporation Pty Limited||Mortgage reward programme|
|US7072851B1 (en) *||1999-04-16||2006-07-04||Bank Of America Corporation||System and method for administrating a credit card use incentive program by which a credit card holder earns rebate in the form of an additional payment toward an outstanding loan principal to reduce overall cost of the installment loan|
|WO2007036049A1 (en) *||2005-09-30||2007-04-05||Terrance Patrick Tietzen||Dynamic administration of customer loyalty programs|
- 1998-05-07 CA CA 2237109 patent/CA2237109A1/en not_active Abandoned
Cited By (3)
|Publication number||Priority date||Publication date||Assignee||Title|
|US7072851B1 (en) *||1999-04-16||2006-07-04||Bank Of America Corporation||System and method for administrating a credit card use incentive program by which a credit card holder earns rebate in the form of an additional payment toward an outstanding loan principal to reduce overall cost of the installment loan|
|WO2003098495A1 (en) *||2002-05-20||2003-11-27||Prudential Finance Corporation Pty Limited||Mortgage reward programme|
|WO2007036049A1 (en) *||2005-09-30||2007-04-05||Terrance Patrick Tietzen||Dynamic administration of customer loyalty programs|
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