Edenred (former Accor Services) is getting ready to drop paper media starting 2012. In France, it is the first luncheon voucher issuer with 36% market share in 2010. Brazil remains its largest market: 88% of its transactions are already performed using a smartcard.
Chèque Déjeuner, number two (before Sodexo), is more careful: according to them, “full dematerialisation will require at least five years and generalisation should spread until 2013”. It could bear several shapes: cards, mobile phone or Internet.
French law will have to be modified and 164,000 EFTPOS equipped for this chip to be accepted. Workshops are also been organised by the French National Committee for Luncheon vouchers (Commission Nationale des Titres Restaurant – CNRT).
The investment required to complete this electronic migration would induce additional exploitation costs of 10 to 15 million euros in 2011 and 2012. In addition to telecom infrastructure, IT processing and chips equipment, call centres must also be set up and cardholders be provided with the possibility to check their card balance on the Internet.
In 2010, Edenred issued almost 14 billion special payment orders (TSP): restaurant, gifts, services, etc. One third of these s were dematerialised –generally cards. Edenred wishes to raise this rate to 50% by end 2012, instead of end 2016 as planned. Its corporate turnover increased 7% in 2010, to 965 million euros. It registered 87 million euros loses in 2009, but a net benefit of 68 million euros in 2010.
In Belgium, four operators took advantage of the liberalisation started 1st January 2011: Sodexo, Edenred, Belgian E-ve (Electronic Voucher Emitter) and Monizze. The very first e-luncheon vouchers will be available on 1st April.
In France, the dematerialisation of these media could only occur if the 1967 ordinance, which sets luncheon vouchers’ rules, is modified. The French Treasury tried to work this out end 2007, but its initiative proved unsuccessful due to issuers lobbying.
Since then, new entrants, such as the Spanish Buen Menu seem to have succeeded in clearing this obstacle. The French prepaid magnetic stripe Visa card called “Bon Menu” was announced to the CNRT on 11 February 2011. It can be reloaded online every month. It is also managed online (activation, reloading, account balance); it is designed to last three years and it may be customised.
Bon Menu enjoys certain competitive advantages compared to in place players:
Powerful remedy to fraud on paper vouchers,
Compliance with legal requirement related to their use (no more than two vouchers per meal, can only be used with authorised merchants, no cash-back),
Fast reimbursement for restaurant managers (24 hours instead of 7 to 21 days currently, without additional fee),
Lower level of risk for employers (theft of vouchers getting delivered),
For the cardholders, no more risk of losing their vouchers, acceptance by merchants relying on two universal payment networks.