Cardberry Discount Card Aggregator: From Idea to Prototype

    Someone has just a couple of discount cards, someone has 10, and someone carries a whole stack of plastic with him daily. Obviously, with the addition of loyalty programs, the weight of the wallet increases in direct proportion. And we figured out how to solve this literally difficult problem.

    Cardberry concept

    The concept of the project is to convert all discount cards to digital and use them with only a smartphone and a single Cardberry electronic card.

    Cardberry is a suite of hardware and mobile software. Two main tools work in conjunction: the Cardberry electronic card and the mobile application of the same name for iOS and Android.

    And it happens like this: first we load all the discount cards into the Cardberry application. We thoroughly analyzed all kinds of discount cards and divided them into 3 types: cards with a magnetic strip, cards with a bar code, cards with a number, as well as combined cards with several types of information at once. All these types of discount cards can be added to our application. It will store all the data about the card: information from the magnetic strip, digital code, card number, image on both sides and the name of the store. Especially for magnetic stripe cards, we have added a magnetic card reader to the Cardberry set, which all mobile cashless terminal systems are equipped with today. Now that all the cards are in the app, you can simply leave them at home.
    We pass to the next stage. You have chosen your favorite item in the store and are going to use your discount. In the Cardberry application, you select the desired discount card and click "Transfer." At this point, the application establishes a connection with the Cardberry card and transfers the data of the discount card to it. After a few seconds, the result of a successful operation is displayed on the smartphone screen. Now the card is ready to be read by a card reader, and you can transfer it to the cashier.
    (Photo card with screen)

    How did the idea come about

    The idea to lighten the wallet, it would seem, lies on the surface. But in fact, the complexity and innovativeness of this project was to develop the optimal technology for emulating discount cards on a Cardberry electronic card.

    At the same time, the technology had to meet several requirements:

    High data transfer speed.
    Card emulation should be quick and easy, as if you usually take out a discount card from a bag. The card is supposed to be used directly in front of the cashier, and the data transfer process itself should take a minimum time. If you go beyond a few seconds, preparing to apply the discount may require additional time resources from the user. And this is a discomfort that we must not allow.

    Minimum energy consumption
    Cardberry owners will probably have to use an electronic card often: one store, second, third. And here the task of saving both the charge of the smartphone and the card itself becomes important. Cardberry card receiver is energy efficient. In addition, the card automatically turns off a few minutes after use, which forms an average life of up to 2 years.

    Now we are actively working to ensure maximum data security both within the application and for the Cardberry electronic card. For this reason, the Cardberry project temporarily does not serve bank cards. But this option will be provided in the near future. In the meantime, a standard identification scheme using a PIN code is used to connect to the Cardberry card.

    Independent work
    Given the unstable Internet connection in some stores and shopping centers, we decided to make our technology as independent as possible from external circumstances. Discount card data is transferred to Cardberry electronic card via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) channel without using the Internet.

    Additional features

    Cardberry is not only comfortable shopping, but also additional features for users. The application allows you to exchange discounts with friends. For example, you can ask for a discount card from a friend and use the discount for 24 hours. If of course, he will allow you. Then the discount card will automatically return back to the owner.

    At Cardberry, we tried to initiate a new form of loyalty - virtual discounts. In the near future, all Cardberry users will be able to receive special discount cards from partner stores directly inside the application. In the “Card Store” section, you can download new discount cards and use them in stores. This will help users to avoid exhausting filling out questionnaires and other formalities.

    Cardberry today

    The Cardberry project is currently in the final stages of development. The first prototype is ready and is being tested. The project starts in July this year immediately in 3 markets: Russia, the UK and the USA. Despite the difference between the audiences of these countries, the problem of an excessive number of plastic cards is present in each of them.

    There are a number of issues that we still have to solve. One of the most urgent: what if the cashier refuses to accept a Cardberry card in return for the original discount card? The reason may be external differences, because in fact the Cardberry electronic card is an ordinary plastic card, which in the process of data transfer becomes a complete duplicate of the store’s discount card. We are sure that Cardberry users should not have such problems, because the application contains all the source data about the card, including a two-sided photo. Over time, when Cardberry picks up speed, store staff will no longer pay attention to these differences.

    Another nuance is the compatibility of the Bluetooth BLE channel with mobile devices. This energy-saving technology is completely new and is currently only compatible with new smartphone models. However, we found a module compatible with older phone models, but significantly more expensive than a sample with support only for BLE.

    Cardberry will be pre-ordered for the first batch with a 50% discount. Anyone who wants to be the first to appreciate the new technology will be able to do it at . from the beginning of July 2014. The project will also be posted on the crowdfunding site at the same time (July, 2014).

    In the next post we will tell in detail about the "stuffing" of the card.

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    How much would you buy an electronic card?

    • 41% up to $ 20 maximum (without screen) 421
    • 37.7% up to $ 30 (per card with screen) 387
    • 21.1% is willing to pay and more than $ 40 for a card with a screen and my embossed name 217

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