Industry group working to phase out barcode-based coupons

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture

The Coupon Bureau is developing a universal digital coupon.

The non-profit, industry-managed coupon data exchange technology platform that works with many of the largest CPG manufacturers and retailers is creating a singular, centralized database of offers for use across paper, mobile, or online commerce. Known as the Universal Positive Offer File, the database has moved into the next phase of development. 

The Universal Positive Offer File will leverage the Hedera Consensus Service (HCS) to create a universal digital coupon for the retail industry. The universal digital coupon will feature a new coupon application type, known as AI (8112), that will enhance coupon security and reduce fraud. 

The move to a new universal digital coupon standard will see the phasing out of the existing legacy coupon type AI (8110) based on barcodes, once a majority of retailers are compatible with the AI (8112) type format. Every coupon generated will have a digital fingerprint on the HCS, a decentralized public network governed by global technology companies including Google and IBM. 

When a coupon is redeemed, it will also be recorded on HCS, so it cannot be used again or reproduced. This system will allow for online couponing, not currently available under the current coupon standard. In addition, the activities of the centralized data exchange all pass through HCS for verifiability. The Coupon Bureau expects to integrate with upwards of 70% of grocery retailers by 2021.

"The COVID-19 outbreak has required the coupon and retail industry to find innovative ways to meet consumers' changing behavior, especially in the context of dramatically rising e-commerce sales and online deliveries," said Brandi Johnson, CEO of The Coupon Bureau. "There has never been a more urgent need for a universal digital coupon that crosses retail mediums, verticals and purchase environments, to provide consumers and retailers with the added layer of trust to serve their needs. Today, we are proud to roll out the roadmap for sunsetting old coupon formats, and delivering a cohesive couponing experience for both retailers and consumers."

The Coupon Bureau's mission is to connect manufacturers, retailers, and consumers through technology and community, and to build solutions to the issues of real-time validated, retailer-agnostic coupons and fraud prevention. A non-profit corporation, TCB works with members of leading coupon and retail associations - ACP, JICC, FMI (The Food Industry Association), GMA, CONEXXUS, Consumer Brands Association, and GS1 US - to develop new technology, support third-party technologists, and deploy educational programs for industry stakeholders.