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Edenred Romania announces the launch of own chatbot, Felicia, based on AI, the first solution of a fringe benefits company in Romania. Felicia will provide instant answers to questions about Edenred products and services and will take over first requests during first quarter of this year. Romania is the first country in Central Europe where Edenred group implements a chatbot, benefiting from the expertise of other subsidiaries, where similar products successfully operate, and thus offers more digital interaction options with its users.
The implementation of conversational technology in Edenred Romania solutions ecosystem is part of the company's accelerated digitization strategy and will contribute to improving the customer experience, whose queries will be successfully resolved much faster. The Felicia chatbot, in the most advanced version of a digital solution dedicated to human conversation, will be available to customers 24/7 from any device with an internet connection, on Edenred Romania's website and Facebook page, including the Benefit platform, as well as in the mobile application.
By accessing the new direction of automation with chatbots and AI, Edenred aims to support more customers and their employees.
Dana Sîntejudean, Regional Director, Edenred Central Europe: “With the launch of our new digital solution, Edenred Romania reaffirms its commitment to serve each customer with the same passion as always, customer experience being our main concern.
Our focus on innovation and technology has led us to offer our users this new conversational technology, aiming to reduce response time in solving the situations they encounter. At the beginning, we expect Felicia to successfully solve over 20% of common support queries, and she will become smarter as she learns from user interactions, providing the majority with a personalized experience.”
Who is Felicia?
Felicia's story began with Edenred's desire to permanently improve the experience of its users and the team's passion to only have satisfied and happy customers with the solutions at their disposal, the name of the chatbot being chosen to highlight the essence of the service it offers.
Felicia, a name of Latin origin, derived from the adjective "felix" ("happy"), is the definition of happiness, being synonymous with thanking those who it cares for, in this case, customers, retailers and users from the Edenred Romania benefits ecosystem.
How Felicia works
Felicia is an innovative chatbot based on artificial intelligence, especially developed for the Romanian market, which recognizes writing in Romanian and can converse with Edenred solutions users.
Edenred users most frequently asked questions are about payment methods and fringe benefits in general. Felicia will answer questions on Edenred Romania's website and Facebook page, including the Benefit platform, as well as in the mobile application. It is a functional chatbot, adapted to understand users' questions and needs even in a text with typos.
After a year full of uncertainties, this Christmas will be no surprises for employees of almost half of the companies that offer benefits from the Edenred ecosystem. For the winter holidays, employees will receive Edenred Gift cards, so they can choose the gifts they want.
"In a demanding time for Romanians, we set out to encourage as many employers as possible to offer their employees the opportunity to choose their own gift this Christmas through the solutions that companies in the Edenred benefits ecosystem can access. In order to maintain the highest possible efficiency, companies must take into account the current lifestyle of employees and offer them the right solutions for their lifestyle adapted to the new normality", says Dana Sîntejudean, Managing Director of Edenred Romania.
The pandemic has imposed rapid changes in the way we live and work, which will persist even after the virus becomes medically manageable. In the last 10 months of the year, the massive increase in the number of employees working from home and digitalization have led to an advance in fringe benefits that facilitate online purchases, such as vouchers and gift cards. During this period, marked by travel and socialization restrictions, Romanian employees chose to access more online platforms and stores, from food units, to IT&C and gadget retailers, to home & deco and beauty shops, where they could pay with vouchers and gift cards.
And in the last month of the year, gift cards will also be the most desired benefits, according to an analysis of the flexible benefits platform BenefitOnline.ro, an Edenred company.
To support companies and their employees, Edenred is running a Christmas campaign during this period. Gift cards issued by Edenred can be used in the most varied network of partner retailers with a national presence, covering all types of products and services, and can also be used for mobile and online payments at stores that accept this payment method. Employees who receive Edenred Gift Cards can make secure mobile payments through Edenred Pay apps (dedicated to Android users) and through Apple Pay (using iOS devices).
For employers, Edenred Gift Cards represent deductible benefits up to 5% of the value of staff salary expenses. The maximum non-taxable value and which is not subject to mandatory contributions is currently 150 lei per event. For values exceeding 150 lei, the income tax of 10% and the obligatory social contributions will be applied.
Out of the desire to simplify the daily lives of all people, in a period of great challenges for the whole society, we launched Edenred Pay, own mobile payment solution for the Android operating system available for all digitalised fringe benefits. Currently, a large part of Edenred Romania's beneficiaries are Android users, so this mobile payment solution will support them in the process of adopting new online consumption habits.
Edenred digital solutions’ users can already download the MyEdenred Pay app from the Google Play Store for free on devices running Android 6.0 or later and include NFC technology.
Edenred Pay is a simple and fast payment method, which involves the use of a personal device always at hand - a smartphone running Android - and implements the strictest security standards, such as tokenization. Beneficiaries of Edenred Romania prepaid cards can make contactless mobile payments as soon as they have uploaded the fringe benefit cards in the new dedicated application.
Mobile payments via Edenred Pay are accepted in the national network of Edenred partner merchants that implement contactless POS terminals. The new payment solution, Edenred Pay, also brings multiple benefits for partner merchants - cashier payments are streamlined when made with mobile devices and help reduce human contact between employees and customers. Edenred Pay does not require any additional development or investment from merchants.
Especially during this period, for safety and hygiene reasons, Edenred Romania makes every effort to encourage the adoption of digital solutions both by the beneficiaries, but also among customers and partner merchants.
Currently, Edenred Romania offers solutions so that all its users can make mobile payments, as Edenred Pay covers the whole range of benefits products distributed by Edenred: Edenred Ticket Restaurant, Edenred Vacanță, Edenred Cadou and Edenred Cultural.
Globally, Edenred already launched 36 programs in 21 countries, and was the first group of prepaid corporate services to offer mobile payment solutions.
Travel booking platform BenefitBooking.ro has been launched being the only one that accepts payments with all holiday vouchers for all the 13,500 listed accommodation units. With BenefitBooking.ro, through its own travel agency, tourists can now buy holidays in Romania even at hotels and guesthouses that otherwise do not accept payment with holiday vouchers directly at the reception.
Digital platform BenefitBooking.ro can be accessed by all holiday vouchers’ beneficiaries from all issuers in Romania. Edenred Vacanță card users can pay with their holiday cards for reservations in the new platform, still having other options offered by Edenred Romania.
In a difficult time for travel industry and when the entire hospitality industry is struggling to find resources to mitigate the losses caused by the blockage in recent months, BenefitBooking.com comes to the aid of all users of holiday vouchers, offering first platform integrated with Booking.com, at which payments can be made directly with holiday cards, regardless of whether the hotel or the booked guesthouse accepts them or not directly at the reception.
The beneficiaries of holiday cards pay with them directly in the platform for reserved holidays, and BenefitBooking.ro, through its own travel agency, pays, further, to the hotel units, thus generating additional income for them.
Tourists who buy holidays through BenefitBooking.ro have access to over 13,500 accommodation units in Romania listed on the world's largest online booking platform, Booking.com.
Deductible benefits, exempt from taxes and fees
Holiday vouchers are deductible benefits and exempt from employer taxes and fees, up to 6 gross minimum basic salaries per employee and can be granted by companies that made a profit or income in the previous financial year. Regarding the public servants paid from public funds, they receive annual holiday vouchers in the amount of 1,450 lei for each employee.
Starting with March 30, 2020, as a preventive measure in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, holiday vouchers can be issued exclusively on electronic support (card), according to OUG No. 35/2020.
BenefitBooking.ro is the newest product launched by the flexible benefits platform BenefitOnline, being an independent product. In order to access the travel booking platform, users do not necessarily need to receive flexible benefits through BenefitOnline.
Edenred Romania obtains the SafeGuard certification offered by Bureau Veritas, a global leader in testing, evaluation, inspection and certification. The audit conducted at the end of May confirms that all health, hygiene and safety requirements have been met in order to protect employees, clients, beneficiaries and merchants visiting the Edenred headquarters, in order to avoid the risk of COVID-19 disease.
Through "Restart your business with BV" solution, Bureau Veritas certifies that Edenred respects the best international practices and recommendations regarding the preventive measures applicable to the resumption of the companies' activity, bringing an extra confidence to customers and employees.
"The safety of our colleagues and partners is a priority for us, especially during this period. That is why we assure our team, clients and merchants that we are dedicated to our commitment to protect them, by aligning to the highest global standards of safety and hygiene.”, says Dana Sîntejudean, General Manager of Edenred Romania.
What SafeGuard certification entail
For a gradual resumption of our activity in good conditions, at a time when society’s rules impose very strict hygiene measures, the fulfillment of several safety criteria at Edenred's headquarters was evaluated and audited, among which:
Edenred Romania, the largest issuing company of cards and benefits vouchers for employees the global leader in payment solutions for the working world, launched on June 26 the Apple Pay service for its digital meal vouchers issued in Romania.
Edenred Romania issues Ticket Restaurant® branded cards and tickets for almost approximately 1,300,000 employees in Romania, and 1 million of them opted for digital meal vouchers on cards.
Meal vouchers digital payments through Apple Pay include enrolling the Edenred Ticket Restaurand® card within the Apple Pay Wallet app. The eligible devices for these payments are iPhone SE, iPhone 6 and updated versions, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4, iPad Mini 3 and iPad 2017, as well as all versions of Apple watches.
Ticket Restaurant® users can make mobile payments via Apple Pay by simply approaching their Apple device by the contactless POS terminals available in the Edenred merchants network. For merchants, the new service does not involve any additional developments or investments.
Payments through Apple Pay bring added comfort and safety, because card details are never stored or shared on the phone, tablet or watch used and are never communicated to merchants where payments are made. Apple Pay generates a unique number for each transaction in order to keep the security and confidentiality of the payment.
Edenred Ticket Restaurant® card users made over 31.64 million transactions to partnered merchants in 2018, with 83% more than 2017, when there were registered 17.24 million transactions.
More than 90% of the Edenred electronic meal voucher payments in Romania are contactless, a strong indication that their users are ready for mobile payments.
"We are very proud that today's 1 million Edenred Ticket Restaurant® users are the first in Romania to make mobile payments with meal vouchers, gaining added comfort and safety. The Edenred employee benefits eco-system is today mostly digital, and the first addition of Apple Pay is a new step forward." says Dana Sîntejudean, General Manager of Edenred Romania & Moldova.
Edenred is the world's leading provider of payment solutions for the working world, connecting 830.000 companies and customer organizations, 47 million user-employees and 1.7 million partner traders from 45 countries. In 2018, the Edenred Group handled 2.5 billion transactions, mainly through mobile apps, online platforms and cards, accounting for more than € 28 billion in business volumes.
Edenred Romania has been awarded with the first quality certification in Romania in Customer Satisfaction and customer service, according to the international standard ISO 10002: 2018, from the audit and certification company Bureau Veritas.
ISO 10002: 2018 "Customer Satisfaction" is an international standard that certifies how companies think, organize and conduct business to increase customer satisfaction with the products and services they provide. Certified companies are demonstrating that they focus their business around the goal of generating value for customers, considering customer satisfaction a leading pillar in everything that means planning, design, management, operations, and innovation within the organization. In order to obtain ISO 10002: 2018 certification, companies need to propose innovative and complete solutions to address each customer, user, and business partner requests.
Edenred Romania serves over 35,000 customer companies and more than 1,500,000 users and 65,000 partner merchants for a portfolio of complex products and services: meal vouchers, gift vouchers, cultural vouchers, holiday vouchers, both on card and paper, as well as prepaid cards for business expenses. "It's a complex ecosystem, and customer satisfaction and service quality are one of the key ingredients," says Bianca Schmidt, Product & Marketing Director of Edenred Romania.
In order to obtain ISO 10002: 2018 certification, companies must implement and demonstrate that they consistently apply systems and workflows that ensure customer satisfaction - from how they encourage their customers to communicate their potential dissatisfaction, or complaints, until these grievances are resolved fairly, quickly, efficiently and politely, including procedures whereby customer feedback is integrated into a system to further improve those products and services or to innovate and launch new products.
The ISO 10002: 2018 standard is one of the most complex and strict in the industry, so very few companies have already managed to align their working processes with the new requirements. In Romania, Edenred is the first company to be certified ISO 10002: 2018, over 12300 companies with quality management certifications (ISO 9001: 2008, ISO 9001: 2015).
« Edenred has constantly adapted and reinvented customer service, so today we have teams, systems, technology platforms and workflows tailored to the era and world: our customers can choose any type of interaction they prefer, either direct and personal, or through call center, VIP call center or self-service through Edenred digital platforms. We have an open, efficient and easy-to-use process to handle any customer demand.
The ISO 10002: 2018 certification, obtained through an exhaustive and particularly attentive audit led by Bureau Veritas, is a recognition and guarantee that each customer interaction with Edenred is supported by specialized teams that have the training, motivation and the resources needed to provide excellent services, regardless of the typology of the operation. », adds Bianca Schmidt.
Edenred's new certification in Romania adds to existing certifications - the ISO 9001: 2015 quality management standard, as well as the certification of the partner merchant network.
Edenred is the world's leading provider of prepaid solutions for the working world, linking 830,000 customer companies, 47 million employee users and 1.7 million partner traders across 46 countries.
Long-awaited, since the end of 2018, cultural vouchers and digital gift vouchers have become reality in Romania today: Edenred Romania has been licensed to issue digital gift vouchers and cultural vouchers.
Cultural vouchers are a whole new benefit, which is aimed at bringing culture closer to Romanian employees and their families. Digital gift vouchers are the modernization of an already existing and widely used benefit, being offered on a gift card in a classic, paper-based gift.
Edenred obtained the authorization for the issue of cultural tickets in Romania on 24th May 2019 and will issue such vouchers both on the card and on paper.
Cultural vouchers can be offered to all employees by employers on a monthly basis, in the amount of 150 lei per employee, and occasionally in the amount of 300 lei per event. The cultural vouchers thus offered are exempt from social charges for both companies and employees, subject only to 10% of the employee's income tax. Cultural vouchers are deductible within 5% of the value of personnel wage costs.
With cultural vouchers, employees will be able to pay for cultural goods and services from a wide range of addresses. "Edenred vouchers and cultural cards will open doors for hundreds of thousands of employees to shows, concerts, cinemas, museums, festivals, fairs and exhibitions, themed parks, books, school textbooks, musical albums, conferences, language classes, piano/robotics/astronomy/history lessons ... the palette of choices opens new horizons of knowledge for all. Culture can become a daily habit." says Dana Sîntejudean, CEO of Edenred Romania & Moldova.
Cultural vouchers are a long-awaited and necessary solution, given that culture and leisure activities occupy so far a very limited place in the average spending of Romanians, accounting for only 3.9% of the total monthly expenses. Also spendings in education represent only 0.7% of the monthly expenses of Romanians, according to the latest INSSE reports, for the fourth quarter of 2018.
"Vouchers and cultural cards will eliminate some of the financial barriers that limit employees' access to cultural activities. At the same time, cultural vouchers will help companies build a healthy work environment, support the professional and personal development of employees, and invest in employees' well-being. Investing in culture is the most profitable choice for social and economic progress." adds Dana Sîntejudean.
Edenred has already developed a network of partners where you can use cultural cards and vouchers at a national level, starting partnerships to cover all types of cultural products and services.
Edenred partners include Cărtureşti, Bilete.ro, Libris, Librarium, as well as ticketing platforms such as www.eventbook.ro, www.myticket.ro, www.bilete.ro or www.entertix.ro, with hundreds shows, concerts and events in the offer, from Untold or Electric Castle to Summer Magic or Gaşca Zurli.
When it comes to digital gift vouchers, they can be offered to employees and their minor children in the amount of 150 lei per beneficiary, for Easter, Christmas, 1st of June and March 8th. Gift vouchers granted to employees are exempt from social contributions and income tax and are deductible up to 5% of the salary costs. They can also be used in marketing, promotion, or protocol programs.
Edenred digital gift vouchers can be used in over 4,000 merchant parteners across the country, covering both independent and large retail chains, hypermarkets, fashion, electro and IT, jewelery, cosmetics, and more.
"Digital gift vouchers are a big step forward in employee motivation and reward programs. Edenred issues gift vouchers for thousands of companies and hundreds of thousands of their employees for 15 years, and the job market is ready for digital solutions. Gift vouchers are on the 4th place in the top of the extrasalary benefits provided by companies in Romania, so their digitization is very good news. Romania's new work, consumption and living habits required a digital solution to make their lives easier, and now we have this solution. Digitization allows us to connect companies more quickly with employees and traders, into a modern ecosystem that everyone wins." says Dana Sîntejudean.
Edenred is the world's leading provider of payment solutions for the world of work, connecting 830,000 customer companies, 47 million employee users and 1.7 million partner traders from 45 countries.
In Romania, Edenred serves more than 35,000 customer companies and over 1,500,000 users for meal cards and vouchers, gift vouchers, holiday vouchers, social vouchers, and business prepaid cards.
Edenred, the global leader in payment solutions for the working world, connects 830,000 corporate clients, 47 million employee users and 1.7 million partner merchants across 45 countries. Thanks to its global technology platform, the Group managed 2.5 billion transactions in 2018, primarily carried out via mobile applications, online platforms and cards, and representing more than €28 billion in business volume.
Edenred’s 8,500 staff are driven by a commitment to improving employees’ quality of life, increasing companies’ efficiency and boosting merchants’ revenues. They achieve this through three business lines:
Edenred is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange and included in the following indices: CAC Next 20, FTSE4Good, DJSI Europe and MSCI Europe.
Ticket Cadou and Compliments Cards can be used by companies to offer Easter gifts to clients and business partners (distributors, agents and representatives, suppliers and any other kind of partner), and the offered amounts are deductible expenses.
They can both be used to purchase any type of products or services: clothing, footwear, cosmetics, jewelry, personal care services or even food products, in small stores or the large commercial chains.
Gift cards can be spent in more than 55 000 stores all over the country, and Compliments cards, which work on the Mastercard platform, can be used in more than 3000 stores.
In Romania, more than 30 000 companies award their employees various types of vouchers and cards issued by Edenred: Ticket Restaurant® meal vouchers, Ticket Cadou® gift vouchers, Compliments® gift cards, Ticket Vacanţa® holiday vouchers etc.
During the last few years, gift vouchers and cards have reached the top of the employers and employees preferences, because they bring various tax and logistic benefits for companies, while ensuring freedom of choice and maximum spending flexibility for employees.
«Gift vouchers and cards are the ideal choice to reward employees and partners, blending the flexibility of cash bonuses and the memorability of physical gifts. They practically settle both the companies’ needs to increase the efficiency of budgets and logistic simplification, and the employees’ desire to choose themselves the gifts they actually want, from the most varied network of partner stores across the country», states Dana Sîntejudean, General Manager of Edenred Romania.
The recent amendments made to the Tax code have not affected the gift vouchers’ regime, and thus they kept the tax benefits, both for companies and for employees.
Awarded on the occasion of important events during the year, gift vouchers are exempted from the social taxes paid by the employees and the company, within the limit of maximum 150 lei per employee and per minor child, and beginning from last year, they have been also exempted from the calculation of the income tax applied to employees.
Gift vouchers and cards can be awarded to the employees, as well as to their minor children, for Christmas, Easter and June 1st (Children’s day), and for March 8th they can be awarded to female employees.
This tax framework allows employers to show their generosity towards their employees, if they are parents. « For instance, in case of an employee who has 2 minor children, the employer can offer gift vouchers up to 450 lei fully exempted from social taxes and income taxes, namely 150 lei per beneficiary. Christmas is a family Holiday, and gift vouchers help employers offer gifts that bear very personal emotional impact, thus gaining their employees’ loyalty », adds Dana Sintejudean.
Gift vouchers can also be used for business entertainment, in the relationship with the business partners, natural persons or legal entities, and they are deductible within the limit of 2% of the Profit.
Gift vouchers are used in marketing campaigns, market studies, commercials and advertising, they are deductible, and can be included in the category of expenses made for the purpose of gaining revenues.
The widest network accepting gift vouchers and cards from Edenred
In addition to the exemption from salary taxes and contributions, the major advantage of Edenred gift vouchers and cards is the freedom of using them. Employees who receive gift vouchers have the widest network available, more than 60.000 partner retailers across the country, where they can buy any type of gift.
The network of Edenred partner retailers includes all the large hypermarket and supermarket chains, and also renowned brands of fashion and cosmetics, bookstores, jewelry, toy stores, IT & electronics, accessories, decorations, DIY stores, sports products, tourism agencies.
Edenred gift cards can also be used in all types of stores, present all over the country.
Edenred is a leader on the market of prepaid vouchers and cards for employees, both in Romania and internationally. In Romania, Edenred serves more than 35.000 client companies and 1 million users of Ticket Restaurant® meal vouchers and cards, gift vouchers and cards, childcare vouchers, holiday vouchers, social vouchers, as well as prepaid cards for business expenses.
[imagelink="91"]The study emphasized that the decision related to the benefits packages is made without involving employees very much. Thus, only 40% of the interviewed companies consult their employees before offering them a new benefit.
The differences among medium and small companies are also visible in terms of the degree of employee involvement: medium companies involve employees in proportion of 36%, while large companies, with more than 250 employees, consult their employees in proportion of 58%.
[imagelink="92"]Moreover, among the employees who are requested to give an opinion on the choice of extra-salary benefits, 79% are involved in the decision at idea proposal level, while 25% get involved by choosing from a predefined list of benefits.
More than 2.5 million employees in Romania receive meal vouchers, this being the most common extra-salary benefit, used by companies to support their employees’ lunch break, during working days.
Electronic meal vouchers were launched in October 2015, following certain law changes that allowed issuing them on electronic support, in addition to the classic format on paper, which continues to work in parallel with the cards.
„Electronic meal cards represent a great step forward in the modern extra-salary benefit programs in Romania. Edenred meal cards simplify administrative procedures for companies and bring employees an increased flexibility. The fact that within only 2 years since the launching of the electronic meal vouchers, more than 750.000 employees have already opted for Ticket Restaurant meal cards, confirms the Romanians’ appetite for digital technologies and for the benefits that they bring to the daily life”, states Dana Sintejudean, Deputy General Manager of Edenred Romania.
70% of the employees work in large companies, with more than 100 employees. The transition towards electronic meal cards is increasing among medium and small companies, as 20% of the meal card users are working in companies having between 40 and 100 employees and other 10% in companies with less than 40 employees.
Edenred Ticket Restaurant® meal cards can be used to purchase food products in more than 11.000 partner stores and restaurants, ensuring 100% coverage nationwide: hypermarkets, supermarkets, food stores, restaurants, pizza places, pastry shops, etc.
„A remarkable trend is the increasing number of payments made using meal cards in neighboring restaurants and food stores by 8%. This is a strong indicator showing that employees use their meal cards more and more during the lunch break, especially that the maximum value of a meal voucher is currently 15,18 lei, which most of the time covers the cost of a lunch. Edenred solutions support healthy life habits, among which, correct nutrition and compliance with a real lunch break”, states Dana Sintejudean, General Manager of Edenred Romania.
Edenred meal cards are issued under the Mastercard license, they are secured with a PIN code and microchip, and allow contactless payments. During the first quarter of 2017, the number of contactless payments increased to 87%, compared to 80% in 2016. The average value of transactions performed using Edenred meal cards was 36.2 RON during the first quarter of 2017, slightly increasing from 34.5 RON in 2016.
Meal vouchers, an extra-salary benefit, existing in more than 40 countries, inclusively in EU Member states, has existed in Romania since 1999 and their purpose is to increase the purchasing power among active employees. Meal vouchers have a proven positive impact on companies, beneficiaries, partner retailers and even have positive effects on the state, by diminishing the grey economy. The maximum value of a meal voucher that can be awarded to an employee for each completed working day is 15,18 lei. Meal cards and paper vouchers have identical tax regulations and will continue to coexist in the following period.
Edenred issues electronic meal vouchers through Ticket Restaurant® cards, in Romania, as well as in countries such as France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Spain, Slovakia, Austria, Greece, and Turkey.
In Romania, Edenred serves more than 35.000 client companies and 1.5 million users for Ticket Restaurant® meal vouchers and cards, gift vouchers and cards, childcare vouchers, holiday vouchers, social vouchers, as well as prepaid cards for business expenses.