June 16, 2011
Prepaid Market Driving Need for IVR
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Remember the days of the gift card that was on actual paper and not a plastic, credit-card type device with a magnetic strip? The handwritten amounts on calligraphy-printed paper seemed to have a personal and special feel to them. In smaller towns, you can still find this approach to the gift card, but the majority of the market has moved to the plastic card. This prepaid way of doing business has gained in popularity and even Interactive Voice Response (IVR) can be integrated.
This Plum Voice blog explored the prepaid world and how much this market has changed over the last several years. While IVR technology is taking off, so are prepaid services. The common denominator is the technology that is put in place to streamline the process and keep the customer satisfied.
So, just how did the prepaid business get its start? The first prepaid card first appeared in Italy in 1976. This phone card was available for purchase at any local convenience store and a prepaid amount was already loaded on it. The card could simply be slipped into the slot available on any pay phone instead of using coins. Customers today may be more familiar with IVR than the concept of a pay phone, but the card did set the pace for the emergence of the market today.
In fact, the technology almost immediately took off in Italy and spread in just a few short years throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. The phone card since that time has gone through several evolutions and has emerged in a world of IVR, optical storage and microchips. The phone card of today offers so much more than just minutes to make a call.
Today, the prepaid phone is gaining in popularity and may be used to supply that extra phone money when an emergency call is necessary and the individual does not want to carry a clunky smartphone. It is also an alternative for those individuals who want access to carrier networks without paying carrier contracts.
Another innovation in prepaid cards that is gaining popularity is the prepaid credit card. According to predictions from U.S. News and World Report, people are being more cautious with credit as a result of the recession. This trend makes sense if you think about the number of individuals who stashed money under floors and in walls after banks failed in the Great Depression.
With the rise in the prepaid market, there is an increased need for IVR technologies among those vendors offering the prepaid services to ensure they can support their client base. This is great news for IVR suppliers ready to capitalize on these opportunities.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Juliana Kenny
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