Decidedly mundane…

Why Flazz Won’t be Taking Off Just Yet

Very late last year, BCA launched its contactless payment card, Flazz, to lukewarm response. Now, nearly a year from its introduction, we haven’t seen any mass adoption of the payment platform. Why? Let me give my 50 cent on this one.

  1. Too few merchants to get the snowball rolling. I heard – or read, rather – that at the time of launch, BCA claimed that there were around 500 merchants accepting Flazz. Are you sure that’s not 500 merchant’s outlets? Cause, I’m not seeing enough merchants, guys. I have this beautiful and sophisticated card in my wallet but not enough places to use it at.
  2. A Flazz transaction is not exactly what you’d call fast. This kind of contactless payment cards are touted to replace the cold, hard, cash – see the tagline on the image above. I don’t think it will soon. Okay, you’ve eliminated the time spent waiting for the teller to pull your change from the cash register – and the occasional haggling around the lines of, “Do you have smaller change?” – but the flazz transaction is not exactly speedy. I have two stores accepting Flazz in my building complex. One store requires the teller to punch the transaction code printed on from the EDC into his cash register and the other one has the teller to write down my Flazz card number on a piece of paper. This is not to mention the time needed by the teller to punch in the transaction amount and time spent for him to wobble through the menu.
  3. The customer base is not big enough. This perhaps is not a scientific measurement. But I’m the only person in my old department in The Company – 20 person-strong IT auditing department – who has a Flazz card. Maybe the faces the tellers made when I ask them if I can use Flazz – those unsure faces – also speak for the fact.

Here are a few suggestions for BCA.

  1. Go crazy with co-branding. I’ve heard of your ventures with other institutions to intgrate their employee photo IDs with Flazz enabled cards. This is great, guys! That sure is a way to easily increase your customer base, all the while ensuring that the funds in the liabilities on your balance sheet stays where they are.
  2. Make your top-up machines ubiquitous. Better yet, convince your merchants and partners to accept top-up transactions. Ease-of-access ranks fairly high in attractiveness-factor list.
  3. Fulfill on your “fast transaction” promises. Ensure your merchants and partners that your transaction is fail-safe, therefore removing the need to note the approval code nor the card number. Agree upon SLAs on problem resolution and transaction clearance. This might be a long shot, but can your system be made to receive transaction amounts from the merchants’ cash-registers? That would make Flazz transactions seamless, guys!
  4. Attract more merchants. Can’t stress this enough. I need places to spend my high-tech plastic at!
  5. Attract more customers. Market it like you marketed your web-based banking: give the tokens – in this case, the cards – for free. I’m sure that will generate a buzz and a good vibe for your customers. I know several of my friends literally jumped at the opportunity of obtaining your web-banking tokens for free instead of the usual price – what was it? IDR 25,000? Exactly the price you’re setting for your blank Flazz cards, right?
  6. Take the spirit of the web2.0: open up your API. Take cues from Hong Kong’s Octopus card and various web-services. Make Flazz really really ubiquitous by opening up the system to enable it be used for other things such as an attendance card.

And here’s a friendly suggestion, regardless of your intent to expand or not to expand your Flazz card business: educate your merchants, your merchant’s tellers, and your Flazz customers. I’ve seen enough baffled faces far too often when I flash my Flazz card around.

10 Responses to “Why Flazz Won’t be Taking Off Just Yet”

  1. Hmmm… I wonder why BCA is trying to compete with Mastercard or Visa?

  2. @ Rusdy:
    I don’t think BCA is trying. MC and Visa are major global players, I don’t think BCA scales to them. But BCA is big in Indonesia and they have their own propietary network. While MC and Visa has yet to make big on the contactless payment in Indonesia, BCA is trying to make a headstart.

  3. the last word that u said,”educate your merchants, your merchant’s tellers, and your Flazz customers.” i’m agree bro!

  4. Almost two years have passed since you wrote this post. Some of your suggestions above have became reality. Co-branding (Starbucks, Alfamart, …), topup everywhere (ATMs, Alfamart, …), etc.

    So what do you think about Flazz nowadays?

    • @ Arie:
      I have to admit, Flazz has been making a lot of headway in terms of market acceptance. It sure beats the rest of the pack (i.e. Mandiri’s similar payment system and several other banks). You’re completely right about how BCA has done a lot of the things I suggested back then, but what I’d love to see is to get one of the cards – and I have to add that this is usually the one with the most marketshare – get adopted as the nationally accepted alternative method of payment. Kind of like Hong Kong’s Octopus Card, if you know what I mean. So, I think BCA still has a lot to do if they’re going where I want them to be.

      Anyway, just out of curiosity, are you from BCA? Or its consultant, maybe? :)

  5. Nope, just regular casual bank customer :)

    I think BCA should adopt similar strategy just like they have done with their Prima Debit.
    Open up Flazz system by allowing other banks to participate in the network. So banks can issue their own Flazz cards using BCA proprietary network.
    BCA can generate revenue from transation fees, while Flazz user base become wider. Merchants numbers will be larger too.

    • @ Arie:
      Ah, you’re thinking along my line of thinking too. Yes, I heartily agree. It would be better still if they open up by way of API. A secure API, however. This way, they will make their network & card as a platform for everyone else – perhaps with a small license fee – to build upon.

  6. ok so #1. Flazz? really? is that the best name your marketing team could came up with? It’s an insult to both the English language and our intelligence. Flash or quikpay or sth like that would sound/look much better.

    #2. Your suggestions are spot on but BCA couldn’t be bothered to read a blog, nor their marketing team to start using their brain.

    #3. I’ve had this thing for quite some time and nowhere to use it (in Manado), and from the stories I read, not much action elsewhere, either. It can safely be said now that this medium is dead as a doornail.

    • @ jebus:
      #1. I somewhat agree with you about the brand name. However, it’s a matter of taste, in my opinion. So however unfortunate, I’ll let it slide.
      #2. Again, unfortunate. I’d recommend them any day to read my blog. :)
      #3. Sadly true. I think we can safely assume that Flazz is not exactly catching on like wildfire. Even more so in the eastern reaches of the country. I do think that this is in part due to the acceptance rate of the idea of the concept itself, not entirely BCA’s fault. The idea of using cards instead of cash is not yet widespread. Hence, I think BCA (and the rest of the bank which use the same kind of technology) should spend some of their effort on educating the uninitiated masses.

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