Thousands of newsagents in the north-west of England are to start scanning customers' discount vouchers by mobile phone, reducing the hassle of dealing with bits of paper.
The standalone Instant Voucher System (IVS), developed by mobile operator O2 in conjunction with barcode software company 2nDimension, uses a Nokia E50 cameraphone to scan the customer's voucher (see picture below). This means retailers no longer have to manually check and sort paper vouchers or send them off to newspaper wholesalers in order to get their money back.
The two-dimensional barcode — or QR code — printed on the voucher is verified against a central database and the transaction is logged by the system, with the retailer being reimbursed by a direct money transfer to their bank account at the end of each week. This improves efficiency and cuts down on admin hassle, according to O2.
News Group Newspapers, which publishes the News of the World and The Sun, is rolling the system out to 3,000 newsagents in the north-west. Seven-hundred have already had IVS installed, with the rollout due to be completed by the end of January. The launch follows a trial of the service in 160 retailers in Kent, involving News Group Newspapers, the Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Telegraph.
O2 said the system is not limited to newspaper and magazine vouchers and could be used for other promotions in future, such as discounts printed directly on crisp packets or soft drinks. Vouchers sent directly to mobile phones could also be scanned by IVS, it added.
The Instant Voucher System in action