Mobile phones have become a bit of a necessity when it comes to modern-day living. In fact, they’ve become an extension of who we are.
That’s where Barclaycard, leaders in payment innovation for 50 years; and Case Station, the go-to people for personalised smartphone cases, spotted an opportunity for a new product that combines the best of both businesses.
In an industry first, customers can now make contactless payments using their bespoke smartphone case. It’s a truly personal way to pay that combines Barclaycard’s bPay technology with the renowned customisation of Case Station. Simply put, it’s a match made in heaven.
We chatted to Peter Woodd, CEO of Case Station Global; and Matt Thornett, Marketing Director; about them, this exciting collaboration, yacht racing and augmented reality.
Peter, tell us a bit about yourself and the part you played in this partnership?
Really, as CEO, my primary goal is to drive business development across our organisation. And that’s for every aspect of the business, from the techy side, to global fulfillment in 27 countries, right through to the Case Station programme. The core of our business is technology and innovation. So it made sense to partner with Barclaycard.
You talk about driving business development and technology Peter. And this collaboration is a shining example. Has innovation been one of the driving forces in your career?
Well, I come from an engineering background and studied with the Royal Navy. I began my career in the aerospace industry, worked on NATO programmes and in security for the ECB (European Central Bank), and I’ve run my own technology business. So that stuff is certainly cutting edge! But I’ve also done lots of different things. I once worked for a company run by The Who. It was very rock ‘n’ roll. I was producing TV commercials and special effects at live shows, so I’ve diversified and innovation has played a big part in my career choices.
"Other high street banks are boring in comparison to Barclaycard.”
What about you Matt? Have you also had a stint in pop music?
I’m not quite sure how to follow that, as my background isn’t quite so sexy! I read business studies at university, and spent most of my career working in travel for companies like lastminute.com and Travelodge. I’ve definitely had a range of roles, from working call centres right through to pricing and revenue management. And then I fell into marketing.
How did you fall into marketing coming from a pricing background?
Matt: I realised that you can have the best product in the world, it can be the best price, but if no one can actually find it, there’s no point in it. That’s why marketing appealed to me. In my role as Marketing Director for Case Station, I manage all the marketing on the bPay side with a focus on the flow of traffic from the bPay site to the Case Station website. So my role is about marketing all the new cases via social media, websites and all of our other channels. It’s not just about the launch. I also think about the future view so we continue to engage our channels and our customers.
“When you are working with a great bunch of people you can achieve anything.”
What makes the Case Station product so unique?
Matt: What’s unusual about us is that we’re ‘vertically integrated’. That means we own the technology, patents, machinery and platforms, so everything we make is unified. And it’s all made in the UK. We’re a quality, high-tech, scientific brand, yet we’re fun and playful. We’ve managed to tie the science of technology to something quirky like personalising a phone case.
What was the inspiration behind partnering with Barclaycard?
Peter: It all started at the Mobile World Congress. There was a Barclaycard speaker there - we chatted, and we just felt the synergies of both of our brands. Barclaycard is an exciting business, and we wanted to work together to create a buzz. It was an easy decision. What’s more, many moons ago I had a great experience working with Barclaycard on a project with Visa. Personally and professionally, it was a no-brainer to collaborate.
Matt: And it was a natural progression for us to work with bPay. We’d already done some work in the NFC (Near-Field Communication) space internally so it was a partnership that made sense, coupled with the fact that contactless has been on everyone’s agenda. The idea of being able to pay by just waving your most important device over a contactless terminal and then continue with your life is incredible. We always want to add value to our customers and enable them to do more.
Who do you envision using this product?
Both: It’s for everyone. Well, everyone that has a mobile phone! We’ve got about 10 million customers globally, so it’s a massive market. We want people to feel that they can do anything they want with their devices and we want to enable consumers when it comes to technology. That’s what personalisation does. It gives people that emotional connection because they can be their own brand. We want to bring every consumer into our business so they tell their own story with our technology.
What’s next for Case Station from an innovation perspective?
Both: We’ve begun to make waves in the Augmented Reality (AR) space. In one of our stores, we use AR so show customers a preview of their personalised case and that’s pretty cool. It’s worth thinking about what more a mobile or wearable can do. It’s conceivable that the future of these kinds of devices will move towards the health space. For example, being able to monitor blood pressure or test water contamination levels. This collusion of wearables, sensor technology and health functionality is a real possibility.
We’ve talked about phone cases saying a lot about a person. What are your cases like?
Peter: Mine is a colourful, printed case with a woman on the back and a quote that says, “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life”, and I do really believe that!
Matt: At work, I use lots of designs as customers and partners visit all the time. At home, I have a personalised folio case with an image of my family.
Any parting words of wisdom?
Peter: Business is like yacht racing. Everyone has to know their jobs, but the captain is responsible for everyone’s wellbeing. You have to deal with everything that’s thrown at you, vigilantly adjusting your course to make sure you reach your destination. And you’ve got to keep moving forward!