If you’re a thrifty offline consumer, you likely have a wallet stuffed full of paper vouchers and loyalty cards — hardly ideal, and that’s presuming you remember to use them. Meanwhile, for bricks ‘n’ mortar stores, the old way of doing business means it’s not always easy to link online offers with offline purchases and, crucially, track those conversions and customer data.
Enter fintech startup Birdback. It reckons we already carry one loyalty card to rule them all: our existing credit or debit card. The London-based company has created its own “card linking” platform to link online to offline offers, such as cashback and other loyalty offers, via your 16 digit credit/debit card number only. The app, if you will, happens entirely on the supply side.
It’s not a completely new idea. In the U.S., competitors include edo interactive, CardSpring, and recently-acquired Yub, but Birdback is specifically targeting Europe.
Today the company is announcing a $2.4 million round of funding led by Passion Capital, with participation from Paul Nikkel, Luke Johnson, Playfair Capital and #1seed. Money it will use to bring its Card-Linked Offers (CLOs) fintech to retailers, publishers and financial institutions. The UK, France and Brazil will go live first.
For the consumer, the way Birdback’s fintech works could be as follows: You’re planning dinner with a friend and spot a discount voucher online, perhaps at one of the usual voucher sites or via an ad when conducting a search. Instead of registering for the voucher and/or having to print it out, you enter your 16 digit credit/debit card number. This links the offer to your card. Then, when you go for dinner, you pay as normal, using the same card you linked the offer to and automatically receive a notification via the retailers own app, SMS or email to let you know the cashback is on its way. Thus, your existing payment card becomes the loyalty card (see video below).
On the part of retailers, when a customer opts in to a marketing offer (loyalty programmes, coupons, gift cards etc.), Birdback securely captures and handles the card data. From then on in, retailers can communicate and activate future offers directly to a customer’s card.
Crucially, says Birdback, Card-Linked Offers link digital marketing spend to offline revenue, making the former much more accountable and, in turn, increasing conversion rates.
Of course, it could be argued that some of this same transactional activity is already beginning to shift to an app (or apps) on your smartphone, and there is infinite space in your virtual wallet. However, Birdback is talking up its future-proofed wares, arguing that payment card numbers will remain an indispensable part of the process for the long-term, and that its tech is designed to seamlessly complement app-based or contactless approaches.