CardSpring’s Application Programming Interface (API) gives developers a tool to make online applications for a credit or debit card. Each time the card is swiped, a link is created between the payment system and coupon redemption.
Apps most appropriate for this technology include those that focus on advertising and promotions, reviews of consumer experiences, and after-purchase discounts. While most mobile coupon apps require a smartphone, CardSpring’s technology does not. Rather, theirs is a secure connection between developers and the payment network.
RetailMeNot, the world’s largest on-line coupon site, uses CardSpring’s API. The company tested a mobile couponing beta in the unique setting of food trucks parked at Texas's SXSW (South by Southwest) Music Festival in Austin earlier this year. The beta was cleverly dubbed 'What the Truck?!' but company officials say that will change once the prototype is refined and offered to a wider market than just street dining.
In the SXSW test, users registered their credit cards then downloaded single-use mobile coupons from a designated mobile website. The new card-linked coupons showed the discount on the receipt at the point of sale. Customers experienced instant savings with a swipe of their card at the food truck.
The beta was successful enough that the company plans a roll out of its credit card-linked mobile coupons later this year with several nation-wide retailers. Consumers simply enter their credit or debit card number and load selected discounts to their card. When purchases are made, either on-line or at a local store, the discount is automatically deducted from the total.
By 2013, industry insiders estimate between 16.5% and 32% of all mobile phone users will redeem mobile coupons. The advantage for the retailer is the opportunity to capture consumer behavior for use in future marketing planning and placement. Merchants can market their product or service at the exact time that consumers are ready to buy.
The result is increased revenue, better brand recognition and ultimately a stronger ROI. Mobile coupons also strengthen local businesses in their constant battle against on-line shopping, bringing the deals to the consumer instantly and in storefront locations through their mobile phones.