EXCLUSIVE: Visa gets personal with social media loyalty schemes

Visa is in talks with Google and high street banks to personalise loyalty schemes using social media – and the UK’s biggest payment card system says it plans to launch hyper-personalised loyalty schemes, possibly within 18 months.

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What it calls “hyper-individual marketing” will be much more attractive to customers, Visa believes. Splicing spending patterns with social media activity means that retailers will offer much more targeted rewards. Rather than stand at the till being offered money-off vouchers, Visa wants to make personalised offers. If you are a Coldplay fan, for instance, a retailer could offer concert tickets.

Visa claims that this could be the biggest shake-up to the loyalty scheme market for years. Both Visa and MasterCard are moving into the loyalty scheme space. MasterCard is on the lookout to acquire a UK-based loyalty card operator following acquisitions in the US and Australia. Visa, meanwhile, bought a stake in data analytics firm Beyond Analysis three years ago so that it could offer retailers spending information about their customers, using data gleaned from the 11 billion transactions made either on its cards or using contactless each year.

Steve Perry, chief digital officer Visa Europe, said: “Visa will start sharing its long data – we have a lot of anonymous data about your spending patterns – with retailers who know plenty about you in depth but don’t know where else you shop. Married to social media, that’s a compelling offer.”

Gathering information from people splicing together their spending patterns with social media feeds is bound to cause disquiet, Visa accepts.

“There are many who say this smacks of Big Brother, but we can ensure we only offer it to people who are absolutely ready for it,” says Perry.

Visa controls 94 per cent of the UK debit card market and 55 per cent of credit cards. It is the biggest card operator in Britain. One pound out of every three is spent using a Visa card.

“It will enable banks or retailers to get to the heart of what you the consumer really wants. A lot of banks are extremely interested in what we’re offering.

“This is about what do I, as a consumer, really want? Some money off my next supermarket purchase or a unique life experience, salient to me as an individual?”

Visa is launching a pilot scheme in partnership with analytics company Edo Interactive, to introduce cashback offers in the UK at the end of this year. Customers who opt in and pay with Visa cards will get offers based on spending pattern. What Visa is planning with social media feeds in a few years’ time will take this personalisation one step further. Edo already works with more than 200 banks and more than 1,000 retailers in America providing personalised loyalty discounts tailored to each customer.

Cardholders can opt into the Edo service by downloading their bank’s mobile banking app, paying with a Visa card, after which relevant offers will become available through the banking app. To redeem the offers, cardholders can go to the appropriate merchant and have their app scanned to receive the cashback reward.

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