Online loyalty smartcards to fight for top of wallet

In the near future, customers will be able to register for loyalty schemes online and download the necessary software and information directly into a smartcard, says card specialist Datacard.

In the near future, customers will be able to register for loyalty schemes online and download the necessary software and information directly into a smartcard, says card specialist Datacard.

The facility will be taken up initially within companies using a desktop read-write station rather than among individual customers at their home PCs, but the latter will doubtless come, says the Datacard group’s national systems support manager, Gavin Moore.

The customer will then be able to have all his or her loyalty schemes on the same card and may be able conveniently to combine points from different schemes for earlier substantial rewards.

Loyalty scheme software is likely to be accommodated on cards offering mainstream banking or credit facilities, he suggests. American Express’s recent launch of its Blue credit card with attached loyalty rewards has focused attention on this sector, he says, and it will become a crucial element as rival cards vie for “top-of-wallet” status with users.

New Zealand may benefit early from new card products, as card issuers like to use small developed countries as a testbed for future international marketing, he says.

A spokesman for loyalty scheme operator Visible Result, William Smales, says he has not seen an online scheme of the kind Moore suggests anywhere in the world. The concept sounds viable, he says, but there would be logistical challenges in distributing card read/write devices to each customer and getting them linked to their PCs.

With increasingly complex features on cards, they will need careful management both before issue and in handling problems like loss and updating once they are in consumers’ hands, says Moore.

He and other Datacard representatives mounted a presentation at Wellington’s Te Papa this week promoting the company’s Affina card management application.

But the star of the show was a different facet of the battle for top-of-wallet – a specialised printer to produce low-volume runs, or even single examples of the background photographic image on a card. The theory is that a customer will use the card most often that is personalised with a picture of his/her family, house, car or boat.

While previous printing devices laid the image directly onto the card, the Artista puts cyan, magenta, yellow and black components of the image onto four separate transparent films, which are then hot-rolled onto the card. This gives better reproduction and greater durability, Moore says.

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