This patent application is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "This invention relates to processing coupons electronically over a financial transaction network, and more particularly to requesting, generating, transmitting and processing coupons over a payment processing network during a payment process.
"The use of coupons is difficult for both customers and merchants for many reasons. Customers using coupons during a purchase are generally required to bring a physical coupon to present to the merchant. Having to find, save and remember to bring the physical coupons to the merchant at the time that a product is being purchased is time-consuming and inconvenient for the consumer. Coupons often need to be organized by type, expiration date, the merchant's location where the coupon can be used, in addition to many other restrictions.
"When the consumer does present the coupon to a merchant at the time of purchase, the coupon is manually scanned by a point of sale (POS) terminal, usually using an optical bar code reader which is configured to read a machine-readable code (ex. Universal Product Code (UPC)) present on the coupon. In some circumstances, the merchant will have to enter a coupon identification code into the POS if a UPC is not available or cannot be read. The merchant must also constantly update software for each POS terminal so that it has all of the possible coupons stored in a local database in order to determine if the coupons being presented are valid and can be accepted. The consumer is then given a discount on the purchase transaction immediately. However, if the coupon is from a manufacturer or seller of the purchased good or service, the merchant must request reimbursement for the cost of the coupon from that manufacturer. In order to process the coupon for reimbursement, the merchant must keep the physical coupons for separate processing, as the merchant is required to submit the coupons to a coupon processing center or the original manufacturer in order to be reimbursed for the coupon. The reimbursement process requires a significant amount of time for the merchant and often must be done daily or monthly in order to keep up with the amount of incoming coupons. The reimbursement process is tedious, prone to errors, costly and slow, as it may take weeks for a merchant to be reimbursed for the coupons it has accepted.
"It is therefore difficult, inconvenient and time-consuming for the consumer and the merchant to use coupons."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "Embodiments described herein are directed to systems and methods for requesting, generating, transmitting and processing coupons electronically over a payment processing network. At a point of sale (POS) terminal one or more products being purchased are scanned into the POS terminal, after which a coupon card with an electronic customer identifier is read by a magnetic or optical reader to obtain consumer identification information. The consumer identification information is then transmitted across a payment processing network in a format similar to a credit or debit card number along with information on the products being purchased, so that an initial processing server in the payment processing network routes the customer identification information and product information to a unique coupon server based on an identification code in the credit or debit card number, such as a banking identification number (BIN) number. The coupon server uses the consumer identification information and product information to identify any coupons that the customer can receive, and transmits coupon codes back to the POS terminal where the coupon is applied to the total amount due. A discounted total amount due is then determined, and the customer may then use any form of payment to pay for the transaction, including a credit card or debit card that uses the same payment processing network.
"In one exemplary embodiment, a method of electronic processing of a coupon over a payment processing network comprises the steps of: obtaining a product identifier of at least one product; obtaining a customer identifier; transmitting the product identifier and the customer identifier over a payment processing network from a point of sale (POS) terminal to a coupon server, wherein at least a portion of the customer identifier is used as at least a portion of a payment processing destination address of the coupon server; identifying at least one coupon code applicable to the at least one product; transmitting the at least one coupon code to the POS terminal; and matching the at least one coupon code to the product identifier of the at least one product to apply a discount to the purchase price.
"In another exemplary embodiment, a system of electronic processing of a coupon over a payment processing network comprises: a point of sale (POS) terminal communicatively coupled with the payment processing network; the POS terminal comprising: a product identification unit which obtains an identifier of at least one product; a customer identification unit which obtains a customer identifier; a transmission unit which receives the product identifier and the customer identifier from the product identification unit and customer identification unit and transmits the product identifier and customer identifier to the payment processing network; and a coupon server communicatively coupled with the payment processing network, comprising: a coupon code matching unit which selects at least one coupon code associated with the at least one product identifier; a coupon code transmission unit which transmits the at least one coupon code to the POS terminal for application by the coupon code application unit; and a coupon code application unit which applies at least one coupon code to a transaction to purchase at least one product.
"In a further exemplary embodiment, a method of electronic processing of a coupon at a point of sale (POS) terminal comprises the steps of: initiating a purchase transaction; obtaining at least one product identifier; obtaining a customer identifier; parsing the customer identifier to obtain a purchaser identification number and a bank identification number (BIN); generating a payment processing network transaction comprising a banking identification number (BIN) as at least a portion of a n address, the purchaser identification number and the at least one product identifier; sending the payment processing transaction over a payment processing network; pausing the purchase transaction; receiving an associated coupon code via the payment processing network with at least one of the at least one product identifiers; resuming the purchase transaction; and applying the coupon code to the purchase transaction.
"Additional aspects related to the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. Aspects of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the elements and combinations of various elements and aspects particularly pointed out in the following detailed description and the appended claims.
"It is to be understood that both the foregoing and the following descriptions are exemplary and explanatory only and are not intended to limit the claimed invention or application thereof in any manner whatsoever.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, exemplify the embodiments of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain and illustrate principles of the invention. Specifically:
"FIG. 1 illustrates a system for electronic processing of a coupon over a payment processing network, according to one embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 2 illustrates a point of sale (POS) terminal configured for electronic processing of the coupon, according to one embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 3 illustrates a coupon server configured for electronic processing of the coupon, according to one embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 4 illustrates a method of electronic processing of a coupon over a payment processing network, according to one embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 5 illustrates another method of electronic processing of a coupon over a payment processing network, according to one embodiment of the invention; and
"FIG. 6 is a block diagram that illustrates an embodiment of a computer/server system upon which an embodiment of the inventive methodology may be implemented."
URL and more information on this patent application, see: Vaughan,
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