HSBC modernizes poppy boxes with tap payment

The bank's latest community effort will help the Legion get donations from people who have been less likely to carry change.

HSBC is helping to bring poppy box donations out of the 1920s and into 2020 with tap-enabled tech.

The bank is partnering with the Royal Canadian Legion for its annual campaign honouring the sacrifices made by veterans, but instead of dropping change in a box, donors can take advantage of digital tap solutions with credit or debit cards or mobile wallets like Apple Pay by tapping and holding a contactless card, payment enabled cell phone or wearable technology on a glowing poppy. Users can tap multiple times donations greater than the Legion’s recommended $2 figure.

The box design inspiration comes from the shape of the headstones of the fallen, bearing the words of the Halifax Cenotaph national monument and invoking John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields.”

In 2018, the Legion first took its Remembrance Day program digital to open up new opportunities for younger Canadians to engage with the annual campaign, a demo who may not have grown up with first- or even second-generation familial connections to World Wars I and II.

The initiative is being promoted via TV, digital display, social, newspaper and PR. Wunderman Thompson led the campaign, with media by Touché, PR support from Hill + Knowlton and Avrio Solutions providing the tech behind the boxes themselves.

HSBC wanted to work with The Royal Canadian Legion because it has deep roots into the communities HBSC serves, according to Cindy Wong, the bank’s SVP and regional head of marketing for Canada. “We see the work they do with veterans and it has inspired us to help them overcome the barriers they are facing as we transition to a cashless society.”

While Canadians are less eager the handle physical cash and coins during the pandemic – and Legion volunteers will likely be safer if they avoid it as well – consumers have been carrying less change on them for years, making them less able to quickly drop a coin in the box when they see one. But using contactless payment technology offers the same level of convenience and efficiency.

“With 250 boxes in market, this is a great first year, but there’s room to expand the ‘Pay Tribute’ program next year and keep it  going for the foreseeable future,” Wong says. The boxes can be found at 130 bank retail locations, as well as Shoppers Drug Mart, Canadian Tire and the LCBO, traditional Legion partners that Wong says welcomed the move with open arms.