Interview with Aneace Haddad of Taggo.me

Have you ever stopped at your favorite restaurant or apparel store only to realize that you have forgotten to bring the loyalty or discount card? As a person with fish memory, that is a regular scene for me, luckily, Aneace Haddad is here to save us fish in a pond of cards with his new service Taggo also known as Tag and Go. The simple and smart service that allows you to receive discounts on your favorite stores using just one card and by doing what we love to do on Facebook, click the ‘Like,’ button. Aneace Haddad shares more about Taggo and how the service works with the team of Ideaverse.

Sabina: Hi Aneace, its Sabina from Ideaverse. Happy belated Valentine ’s Day!

Aneace: Thank you, you too.

Sabina: I really want to know about Taggo, I know that with Taggo, you can use to EZ-Link card at outlets to receive a free loyalty points and discount but could you tell me a little more about it?

Aneace: The concept of Taggo really is to link Facebook to any card, we did some tests on the EZ-Link card but where it would really work best is with a debit card or credit card. The way that you will discover Taggo initially is the same that when you are out and you the restaurant that says use your Citibank, HSBC, DBS card or whatever and get 10% off. What we do is we add social media marketing into that message, so if you are a fan you will get 20% off with the same card.

Aneace: The concept of Taggo really is to link Facebook to any card, we did some tests on the EZ-Link card but where it would really work best is with a debit card or credit card. The way that you will discover Taggo initially is the same that when you are out and you the restaurant that says use your Citibank, HSBC, DBS card or whatever and get 10% off. What we do is we add social media marketing into that message, so if you are a fan you will get 20% off with the same card.

Sabina: Yes, I noticed that. I was watching one of your interviews where they took a picture of the 2 signs in a restaurant. The regular credit card holders get only 5% off but if that card holder is a fan, they get 20% off. It’s really interesting. So for example, if I am a loyal fan of a particular restaurant, I could just sign up with my credit card and use that card to receive discount right?

Aneace: You could do that way but we see it much more simply as you could sign up with your bank. So let’s say you are with ABC Bank, you have an ABC Bank credit card, and you start seeing these signs that normally you get 5 or 10 percent off but if you are an ABC Bank fan and you registered your cards then you get a bigger discount. You can go to your ABC Bank fan page and then you can register your ABC Bank card over there, and that is all you need to do. So when you are out at a restaurant, shopping, or whatever, and you see these fan benefits, you simply hand over your card, the same way you do today, and you get the extra additional benefits.

But we can do it where you register your card with the retailer’s fan page and that’s what we were testing in October and November and that works fine but it’s a little bit more hassle for the customers because they would have to register with each retailer. Here, they can just register once and they get all the benefits.

Sabina: So what inspires you to build Taggo?

Aneace: I have been in the payment states for almost 25 years, my last company I started in France, in the South of France in 1996 doing real time loyalty solutions for credit cards and debit cards and that was a very big enterprise software solution for banks. It takes a lot of money and time to launch so what I have always dreamt was to have something very light and simple that could deployed without a whole lot of effort so that’s what I have done with Taggo.

Sabina: Why did you choose Singapore then?

Aneace: With my last company, we had a subsidiary here in Singapore where did all our R&D effort so I have been coming here to Singapore very regularly since 2000 and I moved here permanently in 2007 so it’s natural to launch Taggo here too.

Sabina: So do you plan to take Taggo globally soon?

Aneace: Yes, yes, Singapore is just a test base for us. We already have contacts in other parts of Asia and also in Europe, the US, and also in the Latin America. If you look at these credit card promotions, it is something that very common around the world, especially in Asia, especially in Latin America, and big parts of Europe where it is also very common so it’s easy to replicate. The banks all like to do the same thing, they give the same offer so once we get it started in Singapore it should spread very quickly around the world.

Sabina: I am not sure how many retailers are using Taggo right now, could name me some retailers that are using Taggo?

Aneace: What we did in October and November was we use 4 to 5 retailers to see how the customers would react. One of the retailers is still using it at NUS; those were really to live test Taggo and that we wanted to learn from.

Sabina: So that was just the live test but when do you expect Taggo to really launch for public to use in places?

Aneace: It will launch through the banks, today the banks already have a teams of people to go out and get these deals from retailers. So they send their marketing people out, they go out and negotiate with the retailers, say, ‘I really want to get the discounts for our card holders,’ the retailers might ask ‘How come?’ and the banks says, ‘Because I want to do advertising for you,’ and the whole process of that negotiation goes on.

As soon as the bank adopts Taggo and puts that into their offering with retailers, that should happen in Q1 this year. We already have some major banks launching it in Q1 here in Singapore but they should have a pretty large number of retailers quite fast because they already have the retailers, they just need to go in and update the offers and add an extra fan benefits to the offers that are already there.

Sabina: Now that we are talking about the fans and the social media, what do you think about the influence of the social media to the retail industry?

Aneace: Right now the influence has primarily been in the online commerce so online retailers are able to link Facebook because as a customer you are sitting at your computer, you go to Levi’s.com or Amazon.com and it’s easy for those online retailers to link to Facebook so that you can share the books like with your friends or you see a piece of new jewelry that you like and you click on ‘Like,’ and your friends will see it. That area has been exploding over the last 6 months to 9 months and what we want to do is replicate that same thing into a physical space in which today it’s non-existence.

Sabina: Before we end, what would you advice to people that wants to start up a company, mainly internet company in Singapore?

Aneace: I do an entrepreneurship workshop at some of the MBA schools, it’s a little one hour thing that I do. I’ve done it a few times at INSEAD, NUS, SMU, and my workshop has always summarizes down to 3 questions that everyone needs to ask when they want to launch something new, whether they are launching a new company, new service in an existing company, or a new product, and these are questions that a lot of people don’t ask themselves before they jump into something. And the questions are ‘So What?’ so if you start saying ‘So What?’ and you don’t really get a relevant answer and then you say ‘Who Cares?’ and then you can maybe only 2 or 3 of your friends that would care about your product so it shows you some areas that you need to work on something and third question is ‘Why Me?’

Sabina: That’s a very three interesting questions, ‘So What?’ ‘Who Cares?’ ‘Why Me?’ – So this workshop that you do, is it for public or only for university students?

Aneace: Well, this has been for free; I do it for fun so I’ve been asked by students to do it. If there are some public areas or private organizations that ask me to do it, I will be happy to do it.

Sabina: If people want to know more about Taggo, what should they do?

Aneace: They can log on to taggo.me and they can also go on Facebook and look for taggo.me

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