Opportunities and Challenges Facing Coupon Integration into Mobile Banking

Navigator Edition: June/July 2013
By: Patrick Carroll

In recent years many large banks have partnered with merchant-funded networks (MFNs) to bring offers, coupons, and discount malls to the online banking environment.  These same financial institutions are slowly beginning to integrate their offer networks into the mobile channel.

Couponing technology has advanced significantly in the mobile era, due in part by developments among MFN’s such as Cartera Commerce, Affinity Solutions, and Cardlytics.  Recent enhancements have focused on improving offer targeting capabilities through geolocation, transaction history, and even weather forecasts to deliver relevant coupons to a customer’s mobile device.  This technology, which is housed within the bank’s mobile banking platform, can seamlessly link coupons to the consumer’s payment card for immediate use at the point of sale.

In 2010, Sovereign led the way in bank-branded mobile offer distribution with the launch of a branded mobile coupons application, developed by Affinity Solutions.  In 2012, Bank of America teamed up with Cardlytics to launch Bank Amerideals, and supported the launch with a nationwide marketing campaign.  Shortly thereafter, Capital One launched a similar mobile solution.  These solutions provide in-app tools for consumers to find nearby deals and link them directly to the payment card for use at the point of sale.

American Express has launched a unique in-house solution branded as Amex Sync (formerly Amex Smart Offers), which has broader functionality that extends to social media platforms.  Amex Sync was originally launched in 2011 as a method for merchants to develop Amex-specific marketing campaigns via Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms that enabled cardholders to redeem coupons by performing some social action (tweeting, sharing, etc.). This proved to be a stepping stone for a form of social payments as Amex recently launched a ‘pay by tweet’ feature in February.

The broader mobile and digital couponing landscape is competitive as merchants, coupon engines, social media platforms, wallets, and other players continue to build out customer engagement capabilities to strengthen customer relationships.  The number of participants, breadth of industries, and relative immaturity of the market, make it difficult to determine exactly how consumers will prefer to interface with mobile offers.  In this context, the mobile banking channel may be well positioned for mobile offers due to the number of people that actively use the service to manage their finances.  At the same time, banks of all sizes should continue to monitor other customer engagement models, including building advanced functionality in their mobile banking platform.

For more information, please contact Patrick Carroll, Senior Analyst, specializing in Mobile Commerce,

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