Last year made us fintech, says benefits matador Nicoletti

Most companies have undergone significant changes over the past year due to the pandemic crisis and many have been forced to rethink their strategies. Sometimes, however, it was a positive shift, as in the field of employee benefits. The CEO of Up Czech Republic, Stéphane Nicoletti, whose company is facing a food allowance in addition to covid, knows this.

lockdown shutterstock 1845160789 800x220 1

How did your business evolve during the coronavirus crisis?

In the first months after the pandemic, we had to significantly accelerate the process of digitizing our offer to meet the new needs generated by the pandemic. We succeeded and as a result we tripled the number of users of our digital products.

Has the covid changed the role of your company in any way?

Yes, from being a provider of meal vouchers we are now more of a co-creator of technology solutions that help employers and employees to stay motivated, healthy, rested and have some financial flexibility.

Has this been reflected in the benefits offering?

The current crisis is a test for everyone, but it has its positives. It has provided us with the opportunity to enter into new partnerships that would probably have taken place over a much longer timeframe. So we’ve also moved a large part of our offering into the online world for security reasons, working with e-shops and online services in all areas, whether it’s food, health, sport, education or buying books.

What necessary measures did you have to take during the crisis to adapt more closely to the market’s digital demands?

First of all, our goal was to provide a fast and secure solution for our end users. They now have a wide range of options to order goods and services online, use contactless payment methods including Apple Pay and Google Pay, have a high-level mobile app, the My Up platform to manage their finances, exclusive offers and discounts or cashback services.

In addition to the coronavirus crisis, your industry has recently been affected by the food stamp crisis. How to buy a new one?

Electronic or paper meal vouchers are not going away with the lump sum, it’s just another option with new complications gradually coming to light, such as the administrative burden for employers or the lack of protection of lump sum money from bailiffs.

What has been the response to the lump sum from companies and employers?

Initial reactions show that companies and their employees do not perceive the lump sum as a benefit, but rather consider it as part of their salary. In contrast, meal allowances are perceived as a tangible benefit. And it appears that it is important for firms to separate salary from flexible pay when rewarding employees, which contributes to employee motivation and well-being.

Do firms also address the disutility of the lump sum?

Yes, this is also why most firms who are not indifferent to employee health have stayed with us. This is because they realise the sense of purposeful food support and the impact of regular lunches on a person’s physical and mental health. In fact, I dare say that, like the coronavirus crisis, the advent of the flat-rate scheme ultimately strengthened us.

What do you mean?

In particular, we have managed to improve eStreet Vouchers a lot for their users in recent times and, in addition to the allowance itself, they provide employees with a number of new benefits that simply cannot be obtained in a lump sum. These include exclusive discounts and cash back for in-app purchases at selected e-shops. Or the largest loyalty program in the restaurant industry, Up Club, which in its current form is aimed at encouraging customer service in restaurants, today unfortunately limited to window sales.

How does it work?

For spending 100 crowns in a restaurant, paid with our eStravenka, the customer receives a bonus of 10 points, which are converted into cash of the same value when the customer reaches 100 points and can then be spent again in the restaurant. We are delighted with the positive feedback from our users that perhaps this is how they can tip their favourite restaurant. More than 10,000 restaurants across the Czech Republic are already involved and we have de facto given away more than 30,000 free lunches in this way.

What else are you planning?

Further development of electronic meal vouchers and other benefits from their use. It is the electronic meal vouchers that enable employers to provide targeted support for meals and at the same time will offer more and more benefits to their users. That is why I think eVouchers will be a major player in the future.


Innovation Marketing Manager

otec dvou dcer, zastánce výkonnostního marketingu, zrychlující se půlmaratonec, amatérský milovník malých scén, fanoušek elektro swingu, kávový hedonista, veselý cyklista, užaslý pozorovatel…