Gini, a card-linking startup based in Hong Kong, wants to put brands at the centre of its loyalty CRM platform set to launch in late Q2 this year.
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Raymond Wyand, founder and CEO of Gini, said the platform will give brands a "sniper gun" approach to target consumers through access to aggregated spending data.
“We think that banks sit on a lot of data that is not used very well," Wyand said. "When the banks do offer people rewards, the goal of the rewards is not to help the merchants.”
Card-linking platforms offer merchants an easy way to identify and reward customers with discounts, offers and incentives based on actual spending habits. Meanwhile, users can redeem cash-back rewards simply, by using any credit card they link to the app. While typical loyalty programmes only have visibility of how much and how frequently users spend at the clients’ own stores, a card-linking platform provides a window into users' other spending.
The value proposition to brands in terms of purchase intelligence is high, Wyand said. The startup is a family-based company run by Wyand and his cousins Victor and Calvin Lang. It was recently admitted into Hong Kong's government-backed Cyberport Incubation Programme.
Gini has partnered with data-aggregation specialist eWise to offer clients segmented, anonymised data on who their customers frequently buy from, which is a reliable way to identify shoppers who have switched to their competitors.
“Having this data at hand will give brands a good gauge of changes in market share especially during a certain period like the Christmas season,” said Victor Lang.
Card-linking has already taken off in the United States and Europe. Atlanta-based Cardlytics, one of the big players, has a presence in major US cities and London and currently partners with 1,500 financial institutions.
Meanwhile, digital spending and in-app advertising is expected to shift with the rise of card-linking. Gini belongs to CardLinX, an industry consortium with members including MasterCard, Facebook and Airbnb that held its first forum in Seoul last year. Sixty-four percent of respondents surveyed by CardLinX predicted that $10 to $50 billion of the digital advertising spend could be focused on card-linking marketing in the near future.
Wyand said Hong Kong is a good place to launch Gini, given the city's robust offline spending. The business development team is looking at working with food and beverage partners, as that is a sector where consumers value rewards highly. The startup has yet to announce any financial institutioins as partners.
Existing loyalty programme platforms in the market include Soda, which is comprised of an app, physical kiosks for new user registration and a plastic card.
“We also note that card-linking will work with high-ticket items such as aviation," said Wyand. "For example, Cathay Pacific may know who their customers are, but not a lot about their competitors—the people who fly frequently with Singapore Airlines." The data will be able to help brands to bring over such high-value consumers, Wyand added.
Besides bringing a good value proposition to brands, Wyand believes Gini's customer value proposition is high.
“It is frictionless for the users," he said. "We want to streamline and eliminate the entire process of coupons, punch cards and QR codes, everything can be integrated into an app,” said Wyand. Initial test results showed that the target audience of the app veered toward the educated and higher-income groups, he said.
According to Wyand, users will appreciate being able to view spending from accounts of all the cards linked to the app, a feature well received by couples who want to track their spending.
“When you use your card, you get a notification that you’ve just got a $50 reward, that is very powerful for the users…to keep them engaged,” said Wyand.