[Interview] How has Corona changed your business?

The Brain Behind company is a leading provider of individual IT solutions for the retail industry that can be used via the existing payment terminal.
The focus is on making work easier and customer enthusiasm. Brain Behind has a close partnership with CCV. For example, the Brain Behind app “Value Master” has been integrated on CCV’s new Android terminal, which is available directly at the POS for customer loyalty measures.
Like all retail-related companies, Brain Behind has gained new experience through the Europe-wide lockdowns during the Corona crisis and has taken measures to support its customers.

We talk to Alexander Diethard, Creator of Opportunities and Managing Partner of Brain Behind, about “Post COVID-19” retail, new realities and of course the partnership with CCV.

Dear Mr Diethard, your company is based in Austria, how did you experience the lockdown and the restrictions in everyday life, especially in trade?

After a short period of shock, Austria has decided to take rapid and comprehensive steps towards a lockdown. The understanding – both in trade and in our industry (IT & software service providers) – was largely given, although of course it is never possible to get everyone on the same boat. I was in Vienna for meetings on the day when massive restrictions were announced and was – like many others – naturally anything but enthusiastic about the unpleasant restrictions in daily life. Nevertheless, it was also clear to us that we would have to introduce security measures at Brain Behind with immediate effect, which ultimately led to home office and a complete halt to travel. A state of affairs – which in the area of international travel (with the exception of Germany and Switzerland) is still continuing at the moment.

As an IT company you are very agile, are there special solutions that you have developed – driven by Corona?

In fact, the period from mid-March to the end of May was an absolute “high-pressure phase” for us. On 17 March – i.e. shortly after the lockdown in Austria – we were contacted by a Western Austrian food retail chain, which asked us to find a technical solution for cashless shopping for risk groups as quickly as possible. The digital payment solution was to be settled via the existing payment terminal (EC terminal) and be cleared in the background against the IBAN of the “orderer” (=person in quarantine). We were immediately enthusiastic about this task and launched the non-profit project “Gemeinsam versorgt” (Jointly supplied). Today it is still not quite clear to me how we managed to have the product “Gemeinsam versorgt” incl. Apps (IOS and Android) – with the participation of many leading Austrian retail chains such as the Rewe Group with all brands, DM, Hofer/Aldi, MPreis, Baguette, T&G, etc. – ready for use within 9-10 weeks. All in all, the time around the Covid-19 lockdown has proven to be an accelerator for this digital invoicing solution.

How sustainable is such a solution? Can it be used in “normal” everyday life?

We are particularly pleased that – now that the restrictions on the lockdown in Austria have been eased again – some of the major national social and care services have expressed their interest in the sustainable use of “Gemeinsam versorgt” as a standard solution for shopping (for persons to be cared for who can no longer go shopping independently). We have also received enquiries from Germany. It’s nice when a non-profit initiative in times of crisis – develops into a product that can be used sustainably!

Several projects are currently in the release or pilot phase with CCV, including the integration of ValueMaster on CCV’s new mobile Android terminal. What added value will this provide for the customer?

Our ValueMaster is a leading platform for voucher, bonus, employee or fleet or clearing card solutions. Brain Behind has specialised in the processing of these applications at existing POS payment terminals (EC terminals). With many years of experience and all necessary certifications (PCI DSS, ISO, DSGVO), we supply numerous customers in the DACH region and internationally with our multi-currency and multi-language solutions at the point of sale. I am particularly pleased that we will soon be available on the CCV payment terminals including the exciting new A920 Android terminal. The customer benefits from the fact that the existing POS payment terminal can be used for additional services – such as a voucher or bonus card. As a solution provider in the IT sector, we see our strength primarily in the individualisation of our solutions – i.e. in addition to standard products, we are happy to support our customers – from the often quoted “last metres” to the customised product of their choice.

In cashless payment, COVID-19 has pushed contactless payment. What trends and future prospects do you see in retail? What should retailers and service providers learn from this crisis and take with them?

It is clear that the future will be digital – it is also clear that the future at the POS will be mainly contactless and payment will no longer mean “only” debit/giro or credit card. Therefore, more than ever before, we see our mission as providing retailers with smart services at the point of sale that go beyond or complement the topic of payment. The innovative retail industry has been doing this on the radar for years anyway and has already implemented some of them – in the end, Covid-19 is once again acting as an accelerator.