Social Passport Marries NFC With Social Media For A New Spin On Mobile Deals

When it comes to daily deals and loyalty programs, local merchants are constantly bombarded with new options. Groupon has leapt ahead in daily deals, and there quite a few players in the loyalty program space, all trying various approaches to mobile, to rewarding influencers, to encouraging social engagement, gamification, and more.

Generally speaking, local merchants, whether they be restaurants or retailers, want to keep it simple: If they choose to offer discounts or deals, they want to be able to set the terms, upsell, encourage repeat visitors, and track the ROI of their campaigns — doing so in a way that results in as little friction as possible for customers.

New York-based Social Passport is taking a different approach to the problem by creating a social loyalty tool that leverages both NFC and QR codes to allow customers to interact with their favorite businesses in realtime and receive discounts, and, in turn, gives businesses access to a wider audience of potential customers through their users’ social media channels.

Launching in October of last year — and shortly thereafter winning the “best startup” award at Web 2.0 in New York City — Social Passport allows businesses to easily post NFC tags or QR codes in their store, which users can then interact with to unlock rewards, deals, and discounts. For example, a customer might enter a store in which a merchant has posted a QR code; the user scans the code with Social Passport, which then displays a range of prompts being offered by the merchant. Those might ask the user to check in to the app on Foursquare, post their location to Facebook, or follow or tweet their reaction on Twitter.

After doing so, the user would unlock a reward pre-established by the business under their own terms, whether that be a 30 percent discount on burritos or a buy one, get one free deal for socks. On the other side, business owners get their own dashboard through Social Passport, through which they can set their deals, and view analytics, like how many scans they performed, how many people they reached on social media spaces, or how many people clicked on a respective message, for example.

And today, Social Passport is launching a feature called “More Friends, More Savings,” which enables businesses to reward their customers proportionally, meaning that they can offer greater savings to those users who have substantially larger social media footprints. For example, a user who has 50 followers on Twitter or 75 friends on Facebook could would receive a 20 percent discount, while someone with 700 on each might receive a 35 percent discount.

The big attraction here for merchants is that they’re able to add that extra layer of security, giving themselves an added layer of protection against customers who might, say, create social media accounts just to check-in (in other words, people who are trying to game the system).

Social Passport has already been deployed by more than 200 businesses in New York City (the service will be expanding to other cities later this year), with in additional 50 businesses having signed up. With the startup’s new feature in place, users can now simply download the startup’s iPhone or Android app and instantly begin “liking,” following, and checking-in at their favorite businesses, receiving deals tailored to them based on their interaction with the business on social media in accordance with their social footprint. Meanwhile, businesses are able to take advantage of the viral potential of a few positive words from influential users and reward them accordingly.

Even if a user doesn’t have a NFC-enabled device, they can use both QR codes and Reverse QR, the latter of which allows users to display their own and have merchants scan them, with both enabling customers to perform the same social media functions — while scoring a few deals.

Social Passport founder and CEO David Merel says that he thinks merchants are tired of the solutions that simply reward people who are already in the store, and instead want more efficient ways of driving new customers into their stores, while taking advantage of social media influence. Thus, the team has designed a platform that is flexible and provides a big value-add for these businesses, offering businesses their own QR and NFC stickers, complimentary signs to advertise to users in store windows, and its own punchcard feature, which Merel says is similar to that of PunchTab.

The startup has raised $400K in seed financing from private and angel investors, and Merel says that the team plans to begin rolling out its API in the near future.

For more on Social Passport, check them out at home here and in the video below: