Barclaycard Launches Bespoke Offers in the UK

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10 May 2013
Zilvinas Bareisis
Yesterday Barclaycard launched a new service in the UK called Bespoke Offers. The website will feature a range of deals from some of the UK's largest retailers, including Tesco, British Airways, Virgin and Starbucks. Participating merchants will be able to target offers to consumers, who will be able to select the offers they like via the website or mobile app. The offers will include merchant discounts as well as deals which the customers have to purchase in advance, similar to daily deals offered by the likes of Groupon. My immediate thought was that merchant-funded rewards (MFR) have finally landed in the UK. However, after the first inspection, it seems that it's MFR with a twist. Most MFR programmes in the US are focused on issuers and their cardholders. Barclaycard's offers are available to any UK cardholder; it would appear that Barclaycard is building more on its acquiring rather than issuing assets - it is one of the largest UK acquirers and sees a lot of credit and debit card transactions through its merchant relationships. The other difference is that the offers don't appear to be linked to the card for seamless redemption. Instead, they are delivered as vouchers which the customers have to present to the merchants to qualify for a discount. Finally, at least at the start, there are offers which are generic and available to all customers - all I had to do to get a 5p off per litre of fuel at Shell was to enter my email address and the PDF voucher arrived promptly for me to print it out and present to the cashier. The website did not know anything about me and the offer was not targetted to me at all. Apparently, if and when the customers register and provide more details about themselves, the website then uses that information to target; until then, the customers can get access to generic offers. Another interesting thing was that Barclaycard appeared to be introducing a new digital wallet called bPay. According to Bespoke Offer website, bPay "can be used with Bespoke and other retailers, where you see the bPay button." Customers "can add new and additional cards to bPay anytime they are at the checkout." The strange thing is that information about it was hidden deep inside the FAQ section of Bespoke Offers, so I wonder if this is something that Barclaycard will be officially launching later? There is no shortage of voucher schemes in the UK. Weve, the JV of leading UK MNOs is just one the latest examples of companies ramping up its mobile voucher solution. After pulling the plug of Freedom, Barclaycard was always going to come back strongly with the loyalty proposition. Only time will tell if the new Bespoke Offers proposition will stand out in the increasingly busy space.

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