By Kashmera Self
As we enter a new decade, many people will be thinking about how they can improve their health, strengthen their communities or support the environment. Here at Interac Corp., we’re asking the same questions, albeit in slightly different ways. As Canada’s leading payments network, we have a 35-year history of providing Canadians with secure and convenient access to their money across a range of devices and platforms.
In my role as Director, Innovation, Research & Emerging Solutions, I spend my days exploring how Interac can leverage emerging technologies and our platforms, in combination with other organizations, to promote positive change.
One area which shows tremendous potential is incentives—monetary rewards (e.g. CDN dollars) people can earn for performing certain behaviours that are positive for their health, the environment and more. By combining financial rewards with these other types of benefits, we can better support overall wellbeing for individuals.
The challenge here is how to marry our payment and network capabilities at Interac with the systems and operations of other organizations. Enter blockchain. With its ability to cross sectors and connect multiple industries, enterprise blockchain presents a unique way to solve for interconnectivity and enable the delivery of real-time incentives across a variety of industries.
Over the past year, Interac has launched two pilot projects in distinct industries to promote positive change through incentive programs enabled by Interac e-Transfer and blockchain.
We worked with Alectra Utilities to envision how we could better reward customers for demonstrating energy efficient behaviours. We believed the real-time money movement capabilities of Interac could be used to motivate these consumers to change their behaviour and contribute positively to environmental sustainability.
In a three-month pilot project, select Alectra customers received monetary incentives for generating or consuming power at optimal times. Unlike other reward-based or more traditional ‘spend-to-earn’ loyalty programs, there was real money deposited in the bank accounts of participants using Interac e-Transfer and IBM blockchain software. Payments appeared instantly and could be saved or spent at any of the almost half million businesses in the Interac network.
The result? All participants in the program actively altered their behaviour, proving one of the core pilot goals that incentives could help encourage homeowners to adopt energy-efficient patterns.
The Alectra partnership was a perfect example of blockchain’s ability to facilitate real-time incentives that matter to consumers by providing a trusted, permanent ledger that is easily exchanged among stakeholders. It was also a perfect springboard to the application of real-time incentives across different industries.
Building on the success of this pilot, Interac recently launched a second program, applying the power of incentivization and blockchain technology to the health and wellness sector.
In collaboration with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Interac is offering an incentive to eligible people in Canada who enroll in Activate, a six-month blood pressure management program. Over the course of the pilot, people in Canada who successfully enroll into the Activate program will be eligible to receive a monetary incentive through Interac e-Transfer, which can be deposited directly into their bank accounts. This collaboration supports the overall goal of lowering blood pressure for high-risk people in Canada–with a monetary incentive serving as a crucial motivator to promote behavioural change when it comes to personal health.
Both pilot programs use blockchain technology and customer centric approaches to link participating organizations and enable a secure transfer of information that generates incentives.
Going forward, we see great potential for incentive programs across different industries and verticals, underpinned by the Interac network and principles including trust, good governance and customer centric design.
With its ability to create new value chains and connect disparate organizations and industries, blockchain can serve as an essential technology to enable these programs.
More important than any technology or network, however, is the need to prioritize the consumer and their needs. By putting the consumer at the centre of program design, we can optimize our ability to produce desired results, be it improving personal health, environmental sustainability or more.