Microsoft quietly shut down its U.S.-only daily deals aggregator Bing Deals earlier this year and relaunched it as Bing Offers in April, but things got rather quiet around the service since. Today, however, Microsoft is launching a limited test of a new Bing Offers feature in the Seattle market that could give it an edge over some of its competitors. In this test market, Bing Offers users can now link their credit cards to their Microsoft accounts. Thanks to this, they can then just swipe their credit cards to redeem an offer instantly instead of having to print coupons or show QR codes on their phones.
This project is the first result of a new association to promote card-linked offers Microsoft announced at the Money 2020 event in Las Vegas today. Microsoft joined Bank of America, Discover, Deem, Facebook, First Data, Linkable Networks, LivingSocial, MasterCard and others to create The CardLinx Association. This group of companies aims to “reduce consumer and merchant friction for payment-enabled offers and ads” and to promote the growth of card-linked offers.
In Seattle, Microsoft is now working with Pizza Hut, Mooyah Burgers, Buca Di Beppo and a number of other vendors. The Bing Offers team expects to roll the service out to other U.S. cities “soon.”
Just like competing programs, users simply sign up, buy a coupon and then use their credit or debit card when they make a qualified purchase at a participating business. They are then immediately notified about their savings and receive the discount directly on their credit or debit card statement.
Bing Offers currently aggregates about 200,000 offers in about 14,000 cities and town in the U.S. These includes deals from Groupon, LivingSocial, Restaurant.com and a very large number of niche deals sites. As Microsoft notes, however, users often complained that they would forget to use their pre-purchased coupons and that “people didn’t like the added hassle of having to print up coupons or display QR codes to redeem savings.”
The concept behind card-linked offers isn’t all that new, of course. Edo, for example, has already raised more than $50 million for a similar solution. The CardLinx Association’s reach, however, could help it to quickly sign up a large number of local businesses for this service and create enough incentives for users and businesses to join the program. With LivingSocial and Facebook on board, it’ll be hard to ignore this alliance.