Interac takes on a new world

Why the brand has chosen to venture beyond "Be in the Black."

Wallet 2.0

In light of the fast-changing digital payments landscape, Interac has evolved its brand platform in an effort to guide its customers towards new technology-based payment solutions.

The new “Own Your World” platform, created by agency Zulu Alpha Kilo, builds on the brand’s previous “Be in the Black” platform, now almost four years old. The new platform is intended to remind customers that no matter who you are, you can count on Interac to deliver a payment method that works for you.

A minute-long TV spot shows a bear emerging from hibernation and discovering, once again, that technology has changed the world after seeing a woman pay for her coffee using a mobile device. “He’s a metaphor or representation of the consumer who has missed out on these things, and he kind of embraces it,” says Rob Feightner, client services director at Zulu Alpha Kilo.

Soon, the bear is using his own mobile device to purchase all the organic salmon he can get his paws on.

The change in platform comes despite Interac’s continued dominance in the space. Canadians use its debit system on average 16 million times per day. The University of Victoria’s Gustavson Brand Trust Index ranked Interac the eighth most trusted brand in Canada in 2017, up from its number 11 spot in 2016. And the company has now recorded over 1 billion transactions.

“The ‘Be in the Black’ platform did give us a strong voice and a meaning to the brand, and it has worked so well, that people know and understand now what we stand for, and they have that connection with us,” says Andrea Danovitch, AVP, marketing and brand at Interac Association/Acxsys Corporation. “We are definitely not throwing away the baby with the bathwater.”

When “Be in the Black” launched in 2014, the idea was to convince Canadians of the value of using their own money. The message: avoid saddling yourself with debt. The move proved to be a successful way for the company to differentiate itself from its credit card competitors. Within the first three months, Interac recorded a 5.2% transaction volume growth—an increase of 24% in growth compared to the same period the previous year.

But digital payment solutions have accelerated in the last few years with respect to how money is transferred from person to person or from business to person. Whereas cards have dominated the space for around 15 years, many feel new technologies might soon eclipse them.

Interac’s messaging, then, has turned to further helping customers take control of their lives through innovative ways to pay, be it Interac e-Transfer, Interac Flash (for mobile-based contactless debit transactions), or Interac Debit on Apple Pay or Android Pay.

“I really see this not as a new brand platform,” says Zak Mroueh, CCO and founder at Zulu Alpha Kilo. “It really is an evolution of the brand based on the market conditions.”

Both he and Feightner say the platform could have longevity and serve Interac for five or 10 years, depending on how the landscape evolves.

As the company continues to move towards digital payments, it will face increasing competition from PayPal and a slew of emerging payment companies: Google Wallet, Skrill, Payoneer, Stripe—the list goes on. Essentially, anyone able to move money between businesses and individuals, Feightner says, are “very much our competitors going forward.”

“What we’re going to see today and in the coming years is the ability to demonstrate how we’re taming the digital jungle,” he says. In the meantime, it’s important for the company to “remain top of wallet.”

The platform launch is being supported by a national digital media campaign handled by Media Experts, with a French adaptation for the Quebec marketplace developed by The French Shop, and is expected to run until late-October. The campaign also includes digital and social, along with out-of-home billboards, digital screens and banners with taglines such as “Wallet 2.0” and “Pay with cold, hard phone.” Mroueh says OOH has been “a very powerful tool in our arsenal,” and he doesn’t expect that to change.