BIG DATA costs big bucks. Perhaps then, it should be no surprise to see ERN, the London-based startup that’s planning to use Big Data to enable banks and merchants to create loyalty-based offers for cardholders, has announced that it’s raised more funding before actually managing to launch. Following a $2 million funding round raised last December, the company has added another $1.6 million in seed funding to its coffers.
Once again, ERN is remaining tight-lipped on who its backers are, only to describe them as “high net worth individuals”, the majority of which I understand are new investors, and that the additional capital will be used to further develop its platform.
In addition to its headquarters in London, the Fintech startup has an office in Silicon Valley and Singapore, and currently employs a team of 14 people, a head-count that it’s planning to ad to. Two noteworthy hires earlier this year include former Mastercard executives Anant Patel and Brian Eagle-Brown. Patel is now ERN’s Head of UK Sales, while Eagle-Brown is the startup’s UK Merchant & Acquiring Sales Director.
ERN’s analytics platform, dubbed “Looop”, enables banks (or more specifically, card issuers) and participating merchants to boost customer loyalty by creating new products and offers based on the analysis of their card transactions. The idea is that by drilling into the Big Data around a customer’s transactional history — after they’ve opted in, of course — individually-tailored offers can be pushed to their smartphone via the Looop app, in the form of an e-coupon redeemable in-store.
From the merchants point of view, these offers can be segmented using the Big Data that the system is able to make sense of, as well as being based on things like time and location. So, for example, only push an offer when a customer who has previously bought a dress is within a certain radius of the participating store.
In addition to receiving highly targeted offers — the Looop system is designed to be non-spammy and is self-learning based on how a consumer interacts with the platform (i.e. which offers they take up) as well as their card transactions — the Looop smartphone app lets consumers track spending on their credit and debit cards in “real-time”. The pull being that they can budget more effectively — the trojan horse needed to push those enticing loyalty-based offers.
Meanwhile, although yet to launch, ERN says it’s now in a position to conduct wider customer trials, which have begun already. What banks or merchants it’s working with, the startup isn’t saying or can’t say. However, I understand them to be household names.