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The San Francisco Business Times reports that Robert Edwards, the new CEO of Safeway, says that while the company is still testing its Fast Forward payment system, and it will be "many months" before it is rolled out to the entire company, he is already getting calls from other retailers hoping to license the technology.

Fast Forward allows customers to link their Safeway loyalty cards to their checking accounts, which enables them to make payments while bypassing traditional credit card and debit card transaction fees.

""We've been working for a number of years on payment technology that provides efficiency," Edwards says. "We're embracing the technology that we can use throughout the system and make available to partners who have expressed interest ... When people think of innovation, they think of Silicon Valley. At Safeway, we're always looking for innovation and best practices."
KC's View:
When I first read about Fast Forward, I thought that this seems like the kind of technology that could be developed and then spun off in much the same way that Safeway grew its Blackhawk gift card business. And the Business Times seems to agree with this speculation, suggesting that just such a spinoff could be in the cards.

I think we're going to see a lot of these kinds of programs in coming years, as companies see that helping consumers and retailers avoid high transaction fees can be a sweet spot for business growth.