Open-Source Card-Linking Code Could Open Loyalty Programs to All

pexels-photo-285171The CardLinx Association has partnered with Microsoft to release open-source software for card-linked rewards programs, it was announced today. The move could open up rewards programs to a wide swath of retailers, particularly using mobile devices as the vehicle.

Microsoft has made the code for its software Earn publicly available for use by other companies to grow the availability of the feature for the merchant and consumer. Earn’s page announces the software, still in beta, will sunset March 5.

By making Microsoft’s platform open-source, the company has ensured that the feature will be more freely available for the consumer, according to the company, which has partnered with CardLinx. The code will be used by independent companies as a “starting point” for developing specific use cases.

While card-linking is simply the software that companies use in order to link things such as reward points or loyalty programs to the use of a specific card, the retailer benefits of offering a loyalty program should not be underestimated.

Loyalty programs have a demonstrated ability to influence consumer shopping habits. According to a recent report by technology solutions provider Excentus, more than one-quarter of consumers will shop more frequently at stores with rewards, while some consumers—about 17%–will plan their shopping in order to receive the best bonus deals.

This influence is especially prevalent when it comes to things like holiday shopping, it seems. From the report:

Similar results emerged in a back-to-school survey conducted in 2016, in which 81% of consumers said membership in a loyalty program influences where they shop, and 59%–86% said they rely on the same familiar mass merchandisers, online retailers and specialty retailers for school and holiday shopping.

The report (which cited fuel rewards as the most popular rewards program for American consumers) also notes that mobile is making its usual waves in the space, with more than 40% of the world’s first digitally native generation using their smartphone to track and redeem their rewards, while use of plastic cards (even with loyalty programs attached) is dropping overall year-over-year in favor of mobile technologies.

Making the Earn codebase open-source will provide a door for smaller retailers to access these benefits, not to mention the potential effect on the way other companies within the card-linking space will operate in the future.

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