GuestLogix capitalises on growing seatback IFE base with payment technology

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Fresh on the heels of a 10-year payment capturing and processing deal with Thales, Toronto-based software specialist GuestLogix projects that about five million passengers per day will sit in front of a seatback inflight entertainment screen outfitted with a credit card swipe capability on their flights within the next four years.

This is compared to about two million today, says Brett Proud, the firm's chief executive.

That number only represents systems manufactured by Panasonic Avionics and Thales - two inflight entertainment system manufacturers that have struck deals with GuestLogix in the past year.

About 850,000 seatback screens between Panasonic and Thales have swipe card capabilities installed today, says Proud, which represents about 80% of the companies' total install base. The technology allows passengers to purchase extras like food, duty free items and entertainment content on board at their seats by swiping their credit card on the seatback system itself.

GuestLogix announced a 10-year deal with Thales for payment capturing and processing for credit card transactions through the TopSeries inflight entertainment system in March, and it struck a deal with Panasonic Avionics for payment processing in September 2012.

About 1,200 aircraft flying with Thales' system today are outfitted with a credit card swipe capability, says Proud, with another 3,000 projected to come online with new aircraft deliveries and installations. GuestLogix is in the process of testing and deploying the system with Thales, which includes integrating special software into an onboard server. The technology roll-out for the first aircraft flying under the Thales deal is expected to commence in July.

Launch customers for the Thales and Panasonic systems have not been announced yet, but GuestLogix plans to have 10 airlines live with the payment technology by the year's end. That includes seven through the Panasonic partnership and three with the Thales system. Launch customers for the Thales deal include a "large US airline" and a "medium-sized Middle East airline", he says.

Airlines have the option of processing these transactions in real-time if they have a wi-fi connection, or the captured information can be processed when the aircraft is back on the ground. Out of all these options, airlines are inquiring the most about using the technology to monetise early-window content in flight, says Proud.

"The number one thing they want to do is charge for early window content in economy seats," he says.