Selecting a Merchant-Funded Rewards Platform: An In-depth Analysis of MFR Vendors

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28 August 2012


Third party merchant-funded rewards (MFR) platform vendors, such as Affinity Solutions, Cardlytics, Cartera Commerce, edo Interactive, FreeMonee Network, Truaxis, and other players, such as Linkable Networks, play a critical role in MFR market development.

The report, Selecting a Merchant-Funded Rewards Platform: An In-depth Analysis of MFR Vendors, is the second of two reports published by Celent on merchant-funded rewards. It includes detailed profiles of market vendors and an in-depth analysis of how the platforms can be distinguished from one another.

Celent believes that financial institutions should consider the following three broad sets of issues when deciding on the right platform partner for their MFR program:

  1. Value proposition, particularly seven key dimensions described in the report along which the companies differentiate themselves.
  2. Implementation and costs, such as typical length and costs of implementation and ongoing support.
  3. The company itself, such as longevity, funding, number and caliber of people, and other FI and merchant clients.

In addition to an in-depth analysis of how the companies differentiate themselves, the report contains detailed profiles for seven vendors:

  • Affinity Solutions
  • Cardlytics
  • Cartera Commerce
  • edo Interactive
  • FreeMonee Network
  • Linkable Networks
  • Truaxis

Each vendor profile has the same structure and includes the following information:

  • Company and solution overview
  • Consumer proposition: Types of offers, offer delivery, and redemption
  • Targeting capabilities and platform technical details
  • FI sales, implementation, and support
  • Interaction with merchants
  • FI and merchant costs and revenues
  • Market reach: Merchants, FIs, and consumers
  • Evidence of client success
  • Summary

“If a banking executive were to pick up a few MFR vendor marketing brochures, he or she may be left thinking that all these companies are the same,” says Zilvinas Bareisis, Senior Analyst with Celent’s Banking Group and author of the report. “However, scratch the surface, and important differences begin to emerge. Some companies are unique in certain aspects and, for others, it’s a matter of emphasis—they may have broad capabilities, but are particularly strong in one area or another.”

This report is written to give financial institutions and merchants better insight into the platform vendor offerings and help select the right partners for their program. It should be read in conjunction with another report, Can Card Issuers Turn Loyalty Program Costs into Revenues? A Case for Merchant-Funded Reward Programs, also published by Celent. It discusses the definition and evolution of the term merchant-funded rewards, describes various different companies competing in this space, defines a case for MFR programs, and assesses the extent to which the expected benefits have been achieved so far in the market. It also reviews the current state of the market and considers its likely future direction.

This 98-page report contains 31 figures and 28 tables.