While a number of mobile payment startups are trying to retire the credit card, the old plastic continues to be a vital tool for a lot of new businesses. We’ve talked about other services like CardSpring that allows developers to build loyalty and offer programs that link to exiting credit cards. Some of the latest companies to try their hand at card-based programs are Mirth and Cardify, two start-ups that presented at TechCrunch Disrupt Tuesday. Both companies tap into CardSpring to sync card data.
Mirth allows a regular of a business to get a set discount when they use their synced credit card. As long as they visit twice in a month, they are considered a Mirth regular, which gives them a discount at any Mirth merchant. Merchants can get analytics about their customers and message their regular customers to remind them about seasonal specials. The service is just getting underway in a few stores in New York and no mobile app at this point.
Cardify enables consumers to unlock rewards and perks at the places they frequent the most. For users who link their credit and debit cards to their Cardify account, they will get points for every dollar they spend at a Cardify merchant. This can be used for simple discounts or special perks, like the ability to get a premium table. The app provides real-time analytics on how much users are spending and can also display for merchants the profile of customers inside their stores, if they opt in to geo-fencing.
Cardify has got a slick mobile app that lets people track their reward points and see what perks they can earn. It’s also got a deal with CityGrid Media and UrbanSpoon, which will help the service get distribution at half a million locations nationwide. That’s a testament to Cardify’s roots as project out of Hatch Labs, the mobile incubator of IAC, owner of CityGrid and UrbanSpoon.
When CardSpring debuted in February, I imagined a number of businesses would launch using the technology. LocalBonus, another loyalty start-up in New York, also got underway recently using CardSpring’s technology. Now that there are more card-linked loyalty programs, it’s going to be harder to stand out if a company is merely tying loyalty to credit card purchases. The winner will be the service that can provide more data and tools to merchants that helps them identify and reach out to their best customers. And it has to have a great user experience for consumers, so the process of earning points, checking on their progress and redeeming rewards is effortless.
Between Mirth and Cardify, I’m more impressed by Cardify, which has a better interface through its mobile app, more tools for merchants and a way to craft rewards that are unique to each location. I’m not sure people will go to the lengths of opting in for a geofencing, which can be a drag, but that’s also a nice touch, allowing a merchant to recognize a customer when they walk in the door. Ultimately, there’s going to be even more loyalty programs that tie into card data. They will all have to get consumers over any concerns about turning over their credit card numbers. But more and more, people are willing to share their payment data if they can get some real rewards or perks for their trouble.
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