Posted on August 25, 2017 by staff

Tech platform targets the end of plastic loyalty cards


You may never have to carry another loyalty card again when tech platform Bink is downloaded on to 10 million smartphones early next year.

Bink links a person’s payment card to their loyalty schemes – Payment Linked Loyalty – such as those offered by supermarkets and high street retailers, meaning they collect points and gain the benefit of money-off coupons automatically.

Serial entrepreneur Lee Clarke, 48, founded the company in 2014 after becoming frustrated at missing out on offers because he did not carry a wallet-load of cards around with him.

“I obviously carried plastic payment cards around with me though, and the idea came from there,” he told BusinessCloud. “I realised there was a real business model around it.

“You can talk to anyone about this and they understand it: we’ve all been at the till when someone in front of use pulls out a bunch of coupons to be scanned and you hear the groan of people waiting.

“You avoid all of that. The person behind the till knows exactly who you are, recognises that you are entitled to money off various goods in your shopping basket, you see your price roll back and you get a push notification on your phone thanking you for shopping there and saying ‘you’ve just saved X per cent on your shopping’. What a brilliant experience.

“We’ve done independent studies which have found that shops can save between six and 12 seconds at the till per customer going through, realising operational efficiencies. It’s a win-win on every single level.”

The London-based start-up has already partnered with Iceland, Morrisons and Pizza Express, among others, and is “in deep discussions with every tier one retailer in the UK”. Its app is available as an open beta on Android and Apple devices.

Clarke says retailers are desperate to re-engage with customers who are increasingly using contactless payments.

“The presentation rate of plastic has fallen off the edge of a cliff. People who used to reach for their payment card and their loyalty card aren’t doing that any more. It’s not convenient – they tap their card and go. They are no longer engaged,” he said.

“People want to be able to grab a drink from a coffee house, go grocery shopping, buy clothes and fill their car up – and not have to think about presenting cards all the time.

“We are another communication channel for someone like Morrisons: inside the app, customers can see what the various loyalty schemes are offering them – all in one place.

“Early next year we’ll be distributing Bink inside other apps that may already be on your telephone. It will be downloaded when you update your phone. There will also be a full UK rollout of the standalone Bink app.

“In the UK alone Bink will be on 10 million-plus handsets automatically for people to be able to use.”

Bink has raised £10m in funding, including investment from “high net-worth individuals who have invested in other FinTech platforms”, and is aiming to raise another £25m this summer. The firm employs 60 people, which Clarke expects to grow to 150 by the end of 2018. It recently expanded into the US with an office in San Francisco.

“I can see us reaching 50m handsets in 2018 and, as we support multiple territories, the sky’s the limit,” he said. “We’re in talks with brands in the US, Canada, South Africa and several European countries.

“Everyone will know the name Bink. But we are first and foremost about supporting the brands that we work with and acting as an extension of their loyalty programmes.

“We’re digitising the loyalty space in the same way that Netflix has digitised the movie sector. People used to go to Blockbuster to hire movies, now they go to Netflix. The end result is the same.”