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ISSUE NO. 73– January 2020

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2020's Silver Bullet for Bank Digital Engagement: Card-Linked Offers

If you are a bank serving consumers or a payment card issuer considering ways to drive mobile and digital engagement while adding value for merchants, you are likely considering card-linked offers (CLO). Linking your customer’s mobile app to a payment card or mobile wallet saves consumers money, boosts retailer revenue–and drives digital loyalty all around.
The CardLinx Association is a non-profit trade group with members in 17 countries and on four continents (www.cardlinx.org). Members include Microsoft, MasterCard, UBS, Capital One, Samsung Card, to name just a few. CardLinx recently evaluated card-link programs worldwide based on four key factors:
  1. Innovation. Features that consumers and merchants care about most, including the ability to target and segment offers using spend data, location and self-service.
  2. Engagement. Consumer ease-of-use, including offer relevance and the convenience of locations where offers can be redeemed.
  3. Longevity. The length of time the program has been in market.
  4. Scale. The number of merchants and consumers participating.
Ten CLO programs rose to the top of the list. Read on to find out what these leaders are doing to stand out from the crowd.

The Top 10 Bank CLO Programs

(and what they did to make the list)

1. Rakuten (Japan)

Rakuten Super Points® is Rakuten.com’s rewards program. Launched in October 2014, the program serves up linked offers to the online marketplace’s cardholders allowing them to earn 1% back every day. Plus they get up to 20x back in points when they shop on member days, and up to 15x back when they purchase items from select merchants. Personalized offers, daily deals and express checkout round out offerings to incent its 600,000 merchants, and engage its 17 million cardholders.

2. BankAmeriDeals (USA)

BankAmeriDeals is Bank of America’s card-linked offer program. It rewards Bank of America credit and debit cardholders with cash back on purchases made every day–and makes it easy for cardholders to take advantage of savings. There’s no need to clip coupons or hunt for promo codes, and the program is built directly into BOA’s online and mobile banking app. Since August 2012 a range of retailers–restaurants, clothing stores, gas stations, etc.–have looked to this program to help make customer relationships stronger.

3. Samsung Card LINK (South Korea)

Consumers earn points while they shop and by using Samsung apps, and can then redeem them toward purchases on Samsung.com and more. With Samsung Card LINK, benefits are linked directly to the card–there’s no need for a coupon. A range of national merchants, (e.g. the Banchan) and international chains (e.g. Burger King) are included. Launched in April 2014, members earn up to 2% back in rewards points when shopping on Samsung.com–and when doing what they do every day, like downloading apps or working out.

4. Sumitomo Mitsui Card Koko-Iko! (Japan)

Koko-Iko! is a customer referral service using card linking. The service maximizes impact for affiliates by sending cardholders timely information on benefits available based on demographic, card usage, and location. Koko-Iko! allows cardholders to check in with one click at the time of store visit and earn points or cash back for qualified in-store purchases. They earn up to 18x more points or up to 8.5% cash back at participating department stores and malls. Launched in September 2016, there are 20 million cardholders and 2,500 merchants.

5. LCL CityStore (France)

CityStore is a new service provided to LCL’s personal banking customers. Customers earn rewards and discounts through its card-linked offer platform in the form of cash back from purchases through partners, which include more than 700 national and local merchants. Offers are tailored toward consumer interests. The program was developed to provide customer value, and to strengthen relationships among consumers, merchants and the financial institution.

6. Barclaycard RewardsBoost (UK)

Members of this CLO program earn thousands of Barclay Rewards every year by shopping online. They can search thousands of deals, coupons and free shipping offers; choose products from more than 700 merchants; and be rewarded for every dollar spent. More rewards are earned without extra effort–and deposited directly into their Barclay accounts. Designed to be easy for cardholders to use, the program also includes features merchants appreciate, including the ability to target offers.

7. Chase Offers (USA)

The card-linking program by Chase brings debit and credit card holders deals from places they like to shop. There’re no coupons, codes or vouchers to remember, and no registration required. Consumers choose an offer, add it to their card, and then use it to pay in stores, online or through mobile apps and wallets. Statement credits appear in seven to 14 days. Chase Offers, launched in November 2018, is tailored for customers based on interest, with more than 150 merchants nationwide participating.

8. Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards (USA)

The Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards program links offers to customers with a Wells Fargo rewards-based credit card. Launched in March 2016, cardholders redeem rewards at any Wells Fargo ATM, deposit them in a qualifying Wells Fargo checking or savings account, or apply them toward the principal balance of a qualifying Wells Fargo line or loan. They also can take advantage of options to pool rewards with other customers, gift rewards to other customers or to charity, create wish lists and more–on-the-go.

9. PostFinance (Switzerland)

The PostFinance Benefit CLO program lets customers save money on purchases in stores and online shops. Card-linking capabilities allow consumers to reserve an offer with one click. They then pay in-store or online using their PostFinance card. Notifications help assure they don’t miss an opportunity to save. PostFinance, makes  tailored offers to customer needs, including up to 30% off a range of brands that match recipients’ interests.

10. RBC Royal Bank (Canada)

RBC has two active card linked offer platforms. Dipp started in July 2018 with both Visa and MasterCard. Dipp has over fifty participating merchant locations in Toronto and plans to expand their merchant offerings. Also initially launched in Toronto, Ampli‘s key essentials partners include travel, gas, grocery, and retail merchants. Ampli supports multiple offers types, including cash and discounts.

Visa Buys Plaid for $5.3 Bln

Visa announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire financial data aggregator Plaid for $5.3 billion. Plaid’s investors include Visa, MasterCard and American Express, among others. Unlike most card-linked data providers who source consumer financial data through secure APIs from banks and payment networks, Plaid relies on a consumer entering their online banking user name and password into a fin-tech app. The Plaid platform then fetched the data through the consumers’ online banking portal. Several large banks including Capital One and Chase had recently announced they were going to block Plaid’s preferred method of data retrieval.
CardLinx Insight:
The move by large banks to block Plaid’s data access hastened its decision to sell to Visa. It is also an admission by Plaid that accessing a consumers’ financial data through “screen scraping” an online banking portal is not a sustainable or secure model. The Plaid acquisition is still a significant win for Visa. Visa’s acquisition effectively guarantees access to certain high growth fin-tech customers like Venmo, while simultaneously granting Visa access to competitor payment network data through online banking portals -at least for a limited time. However, many of Visa’s competitors and many large banks may likely to terminate their participation/collaboration with Plaid after the acquisition. So in some ways this was a defensive move for Visa, preventing other payment networks from accessing this valuable data platform.

Insight Into the Future: Five Predictions for 2020

By: Silvio Tavares, President and CEO, The CardLinx Association

Reading tea leaves and gazing into crystal balls are two ways some say they can predict the future. I prefer a more grounded, fact based approach. Observation, conversation and data analysis are my tools of choice for forecasting what’s ahead in our industry.

As CEO of a trade association with members and operations in more than 17 countries—including the US, China, Japan, France, the UK and Switzerland—I have frequent contact with executives of the largest, most innovative companies in the world.

While no one person has perfect visibility into the future, certain patterns do take shape when you speak to as many industry influencers as I do. Based on that collaboration, I now share five key predictions likely to come true in the coming year.

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1. DATA OPENS UP – NO LOCK DOWN

The casual observer of privacy trends might come to the mistaken conclusion that new laws like Europe’s GDPR and CCPA are ushering in a period of tighter access to consumer data. The opposite is true.

These legal mandates are in fact mostly about giving consumers transparency, choice and control over how their data is used. Consumers will use their data control to share their information with a broader cross section of apps that benefit them directly.

2020 will be remembered as the year when consumers took charge of their financial data and started sharing it broadly across different tech platforms—to their benefit. Notable examples of the trend include card linked offer programs from CardLinx member companies like Rakuten and Groupon. These organizations enable a consumer to share credit card transaction data through an app that delivers cash back discounts.

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2. USA VS CHINA: THE NEW TECH WARS

Mobile technology has been the dominant scale technology for the last decade, and it’s an increasingly central part of the payments and commerce ecosystem. Companies like CardLinx member Samsung and Apple have led the global industry, while lower cost but high value Chinese competitors, including Huawei, have risen rapidly as well.

A little noticed but unintended consequence of the US vs China trade war is that large Chinese companies like Huawei were cut off from their American mobile parts suppliers. In May 2019 Huawei launched the first high-end smart phone competitor to the Apple iPhone 11. It contained not one single US made component. The components weren’t available—and they didn’t let that stop them.

This year expect both China and the US to throw their weight around, pressuring smaller economies to choose one or the other as their primary tech source. This will have an impact on everything from payment technologies (QR codes, NFC) to credit cards and 5G. It will be particularly challenging for markets like Japan, South Korea, Germany and the UK that enjoy good trading relationships with both the US and China.

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3. APPLE CARD CLIMBS TO TOP 10

Apple Pay was introduced nearly six years ago, but it never really caught on. Let’s face it, in the US, Europe and Asia, credit cards are easy to use and mobile wallets, well, aren’t. Apple execs figured that out in the years since the 2014 launch, leading to their second salvo in the payment wars: The Apple Card. Launched in August 2019, Apple opened more than $10 billion in credit card accounts in the US alone in the first month. All data to date points to dramatic growth for the new Apple Card.

My prediction- 2020 will be the year Apple Card rockets to become a top 10 issuer of credit cards in the US—and enters new markets including Japan, the UK and France. Why the rapid success? Cash back offers are an essential component of the Apple Card offering. Credit card issuers that don’t feature cash back offers from merchants will have a difficult time competing in 2020. And those without a companion mobile app, they’ll find it hard to grow as well.

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4. CROSS BORDER SHOPPING SPIKES

2020 marks the year Chinese consumers in Shanghai will find it as easy to buy Levis Made In The USA jeans as US consumers in Chicago find it to drive to their local mall and purchase Nike sneakers manufactured in China.

It wasn’t long ago that buying goods from a merchant in another country was challenging. There were customs forms to fill out, currency exchange rates to decipher and plenty of hassle. Due to advances in shipping and e-commerce technology, this is no longer the case.

CardLinx member merchants like luxury retailer Harvey Nichols based in London and LVMH-24S based in Paris are growing their cross border businesses by triple digits. In the coming year, I foresee consumers increasingly buying from merchants in other countries in ways almost transparent to them—giving them more access to more goods with unprecedented convenience.

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5. THE END OF CASH – THE NEW “CORD CUTTING”

About a decade ago, people started cancelling their landlines, using mobile phones exclusively. Now more than 50% of US homes are landline-free. Over the past five years, an increasing number of Americans have cancelled cable subscriptions, relying purely on streaming services like Netflix and AppleTV for video content.

This is the year US consumers stop carrying cash in their wallets and start relying solely on their payment cards and mobile wallets.The trend for technology to give us new and better ways to manage our lives will continue in 2020.

Incredible but true. As a global traveler I visit more than 10 countries a year for business. Keeping that many different national cash currencies in my wallet had been quite a challenge. So, two years ago I stopped. To my surprise I found I did not need cash in most of the world’s leading cities. A few credit cards and a mobile wallet worked fine. The average consumer is coming to the same conclusion in their everyday life—no cash is needed. My prediction: This phenomenon goes mainstream this year.

Here’s wishing all of you a productive 2020 – it will be a great year in our industry!

Digital Engagement: Gain Mind Share with Cash-Back Offers

10 Apps and Websites that Cracked the Code

Card-linked offers are no longer limited to banks and card issuers. General purpose mobile apps and websites are using the technology to get consumers to log in often, purchase more, and stay loyal. Free card linking programs are capitalizing on consumers’ desires to save money every day.

The CardLinx Association is a non-profit trade group with members in 17 countries and on four continents (www.cardlinx.org). Members include Microsoft, Rakuten, Samsung, UBS and RBC to name a few. CardLinx recently evaluated non-bank card-link programs worldwide based on four key factors:

  1. Innovation. Features that consumers and merchants care about most, including the ability to target and segment offers using spend data, location and self-service.
  2. Engagement. Consumer ease-of-use, including offer relevance and the convenience of locations where offers can be redeemed.
  3. Longevity. The length of time the program has been in market.
  4. Scale. The number of merchants and consumers participating.

Ten programs stood out. Read on to find out what these category leaders did to make the list.

THE TOP 10 NON-BANK CLO PROGRAMS:

1. Rakuten In-Store (USA & Canada)

E-commerce marketplace Rakuten now lets consumers earn cash back when they shop in person, just as they do when they shop online. A shopper links the store’s offer (e.g. 2% cash back at Sephora) to a debit or credit card through the online and app-based service—then uses the card to pay at the store. Once purchase is confirmed, the card is credited. Rakuten In Store’s cash back—plus coupons and promo codes—add value to consumers and merchants alike.

2. Yelp (USA)

Directory service and review forum Yelp is connecting restaurants with diners. Customers get up to 10% cash back for eating at any of 8,000+ eating establishments nationwide. Sign up and linking cards is easy. From there, all a customer needs to do is activate an offer and pay with their linked card. More than 1.5 million cards are linked to Yelp, and $3 million in cash back has been paid out so far.

3. Groupon+ (USA)

True to its mission to help people discover and save on things to do, see, eat and buy, Groupon’s now in the cash-back business. In addition to selling steeply discounted coupons to groups of people, the company also provides linked-card offers to diners at participating restaurants. All a buyer has to do is sign up, link an eligible card, and activate an offer. Cash back—Groupon’s rates are as high as 30%—appears on the cardholder’s statement.

4. GasBuddy (USA)

GasBuddy—the company that helps people avoid paying full price for fuel—and Groupon have partnered to help consumers take advantage of food and drink deals. Enrolling an eligible payment card lets GasBuddy customers take advantage of money-saving card-linked offers at participating restaurants. Once they pay with their enrolled card, they get GasBuddy GasBack redeemable for free gas at 95% of service stations across the US.

5. American Airlines Simply Miles (USA)

SimplyMiles allows AAdvantage members to earn miles while shopping for their favorite brands—both in-store and online. Personalized offers are linked to the members’ Mastercard, making it easier and faster to accumulate miles needed for upcoming travel. The program’s quick and easy to sign up for—and rewards are posted to the AAdvantage account.

6. Avios/British Airways (UK)

Avios is the global currency of travel, turning everyday spending into rewards for almost 8 million customers around the world. In 2017, with sights set on further global expansion, Avios undertook change needed to add even more value. Today consumers earn rewards on both online and in-store purchases. Offers are presented automatically based on consumer preference, and points are awarded immediately.

7. Uber Local Offers

Uber riders can now turn everyday spending into Uber Cash—with Visa Local Offers. By linking an eligible Visa card on their Uber account, customers earn rewards whenever they make purchases online or in person at featured stores and restaurants. It’s easy to enroll and simple to redeem rewards for Uber rides.

8. United Airlines Mileage Plus Dining (USA)

This card-link program lets MileagePlus members enjoy eating at local restaurants—while earning miles. Members earn up to 5 miles for every dollar spent by using their linked credit or debit card at one of 10,000 participating eateries. A special sign-up offer lets consumers earn up to 3,000 miles in the first 30 days.

9. Sears Shop Your Way Rewards (USA)

Sears maintains life is better with points, which is why the retailer—known for cash back awards—launched a card-linked program that rewards customers even more. With 11,000+ partners, members link credit or debit cards (up to 5) to earn points when they purchase flowers, food, entertainment, travel, furnishings, fashion—and more. Points can be redeemed online (swy.com, kmart.com, sears.com) or in-store (Sears, Kmart or Lands’ End).

10. FlipGive (USA & Canada)

A time-saving alternative to fundraising, FlipGive lets teams earn cash back on what they’re already buying. By linking the team’s credit or debit cards, they get paid whenever they shop (online or in-store), dine out or book travel. The app collects donations too—and the team keeps 100% of what’s earned. FlipGive teams have earned more than $24 million to date.

More and more apps and websites like these are helping people get more for their money. These innovative organizations are digitally engaging consumers with the compelling card-linked cash-back offers that provide the savings they’re looking for.

Member Updates

We Welcome 24S to The CardLinx Association

24S is the online e-commerce brand for the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate LVMH. LVMH generates over $50 billion in annual revenues and includes a number of the best known luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Givenchy, Dior and Celine. LVMH has announced its intention to acquire Tiffany’s, one the oldest and most well-known luxury brands based in the USA. 24S sells these brands through its online store as well as competitors’ brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga, Valentino and Prada. For more information, please visit www.24S.com.

We Welcome daVinci Payments to The CardLinx Association

daVinci Payments is a global provider of payments specializing in custom prepaid payments. DaVinci acts as an extension of their clients for a true white label solution. DaVinci offers global payments in 160+ countries and in 10 unique prepaid currencies. DaVinci is an innovator in corporate disbursements and continually strives to introduce new enhancements to engage the recipient at the intersection of the payment. DaVinci is owned by Bain Capital. For more information, please visit www.davincipayments.com

Upcoming CardLinx Conferences

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March 10, 2020 | Tokyo, Japan

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April 21, 2020 | San Francisco, CA

CARDLINX EUROPE: PERSONALIZED MOBILE COMMERCE - IN-STORE COMMERCE IN EUROPE

June 30, 2020 | Paris, France