1. How has your market developed in 2015? How is this evolution compared to your initial expectations and what would be the reasons for the convergence/ lack of convergence of the expectations to the actual evolution?
The market of prepaid vouchers and cards in Romania is going through a major transformation in 2015, as it prepares to enter the digital era with the launch of electronic meal vouchers (cards).
The legislation allowing the issuing of electronic vouchers has been developed over the last two years and finalized in 2015, and Edenred is now preparing to launch into operation the Ticket Restaurant meal cards.
Edenred Romania has developed the strongest infrastructure for Ticket Restaurant meal cards, just like we have for paper vouchers since 1998: the widest network of affiliated merchants, the fastest delivery to client companies and full support for beneficiary employees.
Edenred is the only voucher issuer with 5 years of experience on the Romanian prepaid card market, already releasing cards in Romania – the Compliments gift cards, which we launched into operation in 2010.
In addition to being the only voucher issuer with direct cards experience in Romania, we have of course all the benefits of Edenred group's unrivalled expertise in issuing electronic vouchers internationally: we have been issuing meal cards for over 15 years, in 18 countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Besides meal cards, Edenred also issues other types of pre-paid benefit cards in 37 countries, out of the 42 countries where we currently operate. In 2014, our total issued volume amounted to EUR 17.7 billion, 62% of which was electronic. Worldwide, 26 million people use prepaid cards issued by Edenred.
2. Through its products, Edenred aims at improving labor force quality (by motivating the employees and increasing their loyalty). From this point of view, how do you see the 2015 results so far and what are the perspectives for 2016?
Edenred is the market leader, both in Romania and internationally, in the field of prepaid vouchers and cards for employee benefits, expense management and public social programs.
In Romania, the company is best known for its flagship product, the Ticket Restaurant meal voucher. Used by over 35,000 companies and almost 1 million employees in a network of over 65,000 affiliated shops and restaurants, Ticket Restaurant is currently the most requested employee benefit in Romania. Edenred also issues other types of prepaid vouchers such as gift vouchers and, since 2010, gift cards, being the only issuer to already provide a card product on the Romanian market.
In 2015, we see a strengthening of a trend started in 2014: growth has resumed, slowly but steadily, as business owners and managers focus once more on development, and not just ‘survival’ mode. As businesses become more competitive and employee retention becomes once more a strategic priority, we believe that in 2016, we will see further growth in the area of employee benefits, with probably an increase in the degree of sophistication of the variety of benefits.
3. To what extent have companies become aware of the need to motivate their employees, keeping in mind the lessons learnt after the financial crisis?
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, business owners and managers are now seeking methods which are efficient and proven, to instill new drive and motivation in their workforce. Edenred’s solutions and vouchers offer the most effective tools for employee motivation.
Using vouchers, the companies’ budgets are optimized thanks to the tax exemptions related to benefit vouchers, while employees’ purchasing power is significantly increased.
4. From your point of view, what have you learnt from the economic crisis?
The crisis proved beyond doubt the efficiency and usefulness of Edenred’s vouchers and cards – for companies, it became clear that vouchers bring significant budgets savings and generate a direct impact on employee motivation and productivity; for employees, vouchers became even more important in their purchasing power; for authorities, vouchers proved their usefulness as a social protection measure to ensure better quality of life for the employed population, but also as an instrument in decreasing informal payments and the grey economy.
5. Considering the solutions and tools you offer (meal vouchers, bonus tickets, holiday vouchers), which of these have been most dynamic this year and why?
The entire industry is very dynamic and there were important developments this year for all categories of vouchers – the introduction of electronic meal vouchers, the growth of gift vouchers and cards particularly as used in incentive programs (not just as holiday bonuses), changes in the legislation regarding holiday vouchers.
Edenred is at the forefront of these changes, with a series of innovations already launched this year on the Romanian market: the first meal card in Romania (Ticket Restaurant) and the first electronic holiday vouchers (Ticket Vacanta, coming this fall).
6. What has differentiated you from the competition in 2015? How would you describe the competition in your business?
The vouchers industry is very competitive and will become even more so, as the business environment in general is subject to incredibly fast and profound changes; companies and institutions must respond to the needs and expectations of employees, partners and communities, and therefore need increasingly sophisticated and customized solutions.
Edenred’s strength and main point of differentiation is exactly this ability: we develop effective solutions for our clients and partners, based on over 50 years of experience in this industry, on global market leadership across more than 40 countries and on our drive to anticipate the issues of companies, institutions, employees and communities. Constant innovation is at the core of Edenred’s strategy and it is why we succeed in empowering companies and organizations to increase the motivation and the quality of life of their audiences.
Moreover, because the specific needs of our clients are very important to us, we created a multi-support system, allowing organizations to choose paper or card for their meal vouchers, according to the company’s and employees’ needs. Digitalization is no longer a matter of choice, but a real phenomenon. We choose to be proactive and allot important resources in order to create added-value services for all the stakeholders: optimized, simplified processes for our clients and affiliate partners, and convenient, modern tools for our beneficiaries.