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The voucher sourcing is performed through a synchronization process in the WingBonus mobile application. The synchronization during the redemption process can be carried out in several ways depending on user and shop infrastructure. WingBonus's database stores information about the whole voucher lifecycle. Vouchers have a unique identification in each status and all voucher statuses are related to each other.
The synchronization process validates the mobile and server databases, maintaining one unique and congruent information flow over vouchers in their different status. Depending on voucher security properties, mobile and server databases can store a different image of user vouchers. For instance, users can source a voucher with low security requirements i. Even in this case, each voucher is uniquely identified in the mobile database, therefore two identical vouchers do not exist.
Just when the synchronization is performed, vouchers are stored in the server database and mobile vouchers are updated in order to relate and unify both databases.
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It can be observed that the system considers three types of actors: providers of vouchers, retailers or shops and users or customers. Providers are companies having marketing or promotional vouchers or loyalty card campaigns. Retailers are the stores or shops where customers earn and redeem vouchers and can play the role of providers in some cases, and users are the customers using the application. WingBonus is currently open to any provider infrastructure as well as shops' business policies. Therefore, the system allows any infrastructure to be used for any of the process involved in the voucher management.
Vouchers can be selected and sourced from: a the WingBonus website, b the provider's website, c shops' readers, and d smart posters. The user can select and source vouchers from the WingBonus website from a laptop or mobile application. In this case, the system has full control of the information and the process. Besides this, providers can publish vouchers on their own websites and users can select and source those vouchers with or without using the WingBonus system at that moment.
The providers define how these vouchers operate through the vouchers' security properties, taking into account the infrastructure of the PoS where the vouchers may be redeemed. Furthermore, vouchers can be selected and sourced from shop readers, for instance when a loyalty card is used, or from any smart poster displayed anywhere. In this case, vouchers' security is defined by the provider, it being in the low-high range depending on the provider campaign.
The security level affects different voucher and infrastructure characteristics that are defined by the provider when an advertising campaign is trade. User infrastructure is also open. Although WingBonus is a system conceived for using NFC technology, due to the fact that currently some users do not own NFC devices, the system also allows the use of QR codes for the selection of the vouchers.
Depending of the security properties of the vouchers, the redemption process also can be performed using different infrastructures.
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In any case, as described below in this paper, full control of vouchers is managed by WingBonus during the whole life of the voucher. Security, infrastructure, actors and voucher's lifecycle are fully related in WingBonus in order to offer an open system. Indeed, WingBonus is not properly a system but rather a framework allowing any provider or retailer to develop their own publicity, marketing, loyalty and marketing campaigns using a fully tailored mobile application and considering any voucher characteristics and security requirements.
Management of vouchers see Figure 3 depends on the security properties defined for each voucher type involved in an advertising campaign. Security level is defined for each of the main processes performed with the vouchers by the system and users, that is: selection, sourcing, redemption and transference among users. The security level defined by a process determines the security of the later process in the voucher lifecycle. Security level takes into account user identification as well as the grants to perform a process by the user.
Furthermore, security level determines in what step of the voucher lifecycle the system grants the voucher authentication and therefore the system stores all the information about the voucher, process and participating actors. Figure 3 shows the different kind of flows depending on the voucher security and the actors participating in the different phases of the voucher lifecycle.
Thus, flows 1 and 2 represent the information gathered by the mobile application from smart posters and retailers or providers , respectively; 3 represents the information managed by WingBonus server that it can be marked and sourced to users, and 4 the information sent to the WingBonus server by the mobile application in order to be validated and later to process a synchronization between server and mobile applications; finally the flow of synchronization S is in charge of matching information between both sides, mobile and server, maintaining the consistency of the information, and the flow label as U represents the communication between retailers and providers with the server application in order to share information about any information transference between users and retailers and providers and users with WingBonus server.
Vouchers can be defined as unsecure for sourcing see Figure 3. Thus, identified and unidentified users can get vouchers from any source: provider, store, smart poster flows 1, 2. Selected and sourced vouchers from WingBonus website flow 3 are stored in the system database as Figure 3 shows. Furthermore, the user can get vouchers from smart posters. Smart posters can store full or partial information of the vouchers depending on the source security property see Figure 3.
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If the voucher is secure for sourcing, the partial information got from the smart poster is sent to the system and the full voucher's information is sent back to the user flow S. These vouchers cannot be sourced in the mobile device until synchronization with the system is performed; however, temporary information about the selected voucher is stored on the phone.
If the voucher is unsecure for sourcing, the mobile application generates a unique voucher identification, which is temporary until the next synchronization is performed. Stores are considered as smart posters although reading infrastructure was used. Before the later process vouchers always have to be validated by means of a synchronization process. Hence, vouchers are not previously synchronized flows 1 and 2 and vouchers not previously validated are sent to WingBonus server being validated or not and a synchronization process is performed.
Redemption process also can be performed by identified and unidentified users.
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In this process the user shows the voucher in the store to be exchanged for a product or service. If a high security is not defined for redemption, the user can exchange a source voucher in the allowed shop see Figure 3.
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For that, information of allowed stores where the voucher can be redeemed must be stored in the mobile phone, otherwise synchronization is needed, and at this moment the voucher is validated, or not, as well as updated in the mobile phone and stored in the server by means of a new synchronization.
If any security level is defined for redemption, the voucher must be validated prior to being redeemed. In this process, validation codes are sent to the mobile application in order to generate the QR code or NFC keys corresponding to the voucher. Finally, the redemption of the voucher is confirmed and communicated to all the involved actors. Retailers will receive information about the vouchers managed by WingBonus at any time depending on the established business agreements.
The most secure way to redeem vouchers is through NFC. This technology is safe because the small distance range in which it operates makes it very difficult to sniff part of the communication by third parties. We assume then that special security protocols are not required; however, an algorithm that verifies consistency and integrity of vouchers has been used to improve the strength of the system.
The method is similar to the one used in certificates and digital signatures. When a user downloads a voucher, the server sends all the information of the voucher and also a digest codified as a byte array. The contents of the digest are hidden by the encryption with a symmetric key algorithm.
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The algorithm used is Blowfish [ 54 ], and it uses a private key that is hosted on the server. Users do not need to know the information encoded in the digest, because it is not needed to expose the key. Thus, each time the user downloads a voucher the application stores data corresponding to the voucher and an array of bytes, which encodes the encrypted digest. When the user wants to perform voucher redemption with NFC, the mobile application transmits all the voucher data to the controller installed on the store.
This requires sending the server all the received data with the purpose of verifying the authenticity of the voucher. Once the data, originally sent by the store, is in the server, it decrypts the digest and verifies that the digest corresponds exactly to the provisioned voucher data. If integrity is maintained and the voucher is valid, the server sends a confirmation message to the controller; otherwise it sends an error message.
When the redemption is made using QR codes, the procedure is similar because the code has enough storage capacity to store the voucher data and the encrypted digest. The redemption of vouchers with bar codes does not support this verifying method, and therefore its use is not recommended. Finally, transference of vouchers between users can only be performed with secure vouchers and indentified users. This process is always validated by WingBonus server checking the user and vouchers authenticity and the rules defined for those vouchers in the marketing campaign.
Synchronization is a process performed by the mobile application automatically or on user's demand. This process is in charge of several important actions see Figure 3 :. Sending and receiving information between the mobile and server sides has been implemented by encapsulating information in JSON objects.
Unlike the usual format, web services have been used in both directions: to initiate and to finish the communication. Synchronization process requires identification of the user. Although anonymous users can select, source and even redeem unsecure vouchers, during the synchronization, the user must be authenticated through a login process. The WingBonus server subsystem is composed of several functional components: a the website responsible for the web interaction with the user and the administrators, b the database storing all the information involving users, vouchers, clients, establishments, etc.
The WingBonus server has been built using the one-page paradigm, using Backbone. All the work concerning interactions with the final user is made on the client side once the website has been loaded, letting the server be an API and a set of services that work against the database. The WingBonus website constitutes an access platform for users and system administrators.
From the main page, shown in Figure 4 a , users can access the registration form. Once registered, the user can define a set of profile options that allows WingBonus to build a personal site showing information tailored to the user. Users can view offers classified in different items: coupons, bonds and chits.
In addition, offers can be sorted by companies and marketing, simply by selecting the desired option in the upper selection bar. In addition, the voucher view can be filtered by categories selected from the right side selector. Once a voucher has been selected, a detailed view is shown as in Figure 4 b. The full user activity is stored in the database. Thus, security of marked and provisioned vouchers can be checked before the exchange process.
In addition, the server system provides information about the user activity. As Figure 4 c shows, users can view the whole history of their related vouchers. Moreover, the WingBonus server provides a complete administration tool for the management of the information. Figure 4 e corresponds to the management of an advertising campaign for vouchers and Figure 4 f to the management of loyalty cards. In addition, this administration tool involves a set of functionalities in charge of the data analysis and of generating different reports oriented to collecting information on users, vouchers, user preferences and activity, marketing, companies and so on.
For this purpose, we have developed an API for performing any operation needed for the database; giving in addition facilities for logging, registration and user activation, as well as voucher retrieving. The web services provided by the API also agglomerate the operations for the synchronization. Generally, this kind of system gives an output based on a few inputs.
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WingBonus implements a complete system that receives all the data to be updated from the mobile application and operates over the database.