Boston-based start-up ByteLight is preparing to pilot a light field communications (LFC) reader in Chinese stores, enabling shoppers to use their mobile phones to access targeted loyalty rewards.
The LFC readers emits a glowing light containing a unique signal that any camera-equipped smartphone can pick up, without the need to unlock the handset, launch a check-in application or search for the store they're in.
With the reader plugged into a store's existing POS systems, it can securely verify customer location for mobile loyalty and redemption programmes.
Although the initial focus is on coupons, ByteLight claims it will also add payments, offering a cheap and simple alternative to NFC, which has so far struggled to take off.
In the meantime, the firm has teamed up with Appconomy, a cloud-based retail platform and mobile systems provider, to pilot the LFC readers with several merchants in China.
Dan Ryan, co-founder and CEO of ByteLight, says: "There's no need for retailers to wait another decade for NFC to become widespread, since LFC already works on every smartphone today. And as for supporting payments - stay tuned."