What is Punchcard?

Shannon Andrade |

January 29, 2013


Most customers know what a ‘punch card’ is as it relates to merchant based loyalty programs. Historically, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) distributed paper cards, most often the size of a business card, to customers to reward them for coming back. While offers were customizable to the business, typically they were in the buy 10, get one free version and were popular with coffee shops, sandwich eateries and other quick serve restaurant establishments.

Unlike other mobile applications, like those offered by Belly and LevelUp, Punchcard presents a slightly different value proposition, for both customers and merchants. Consumers get started with Punchcard by downloading their free application and registered using Facebook or a valid email. With Punchcard, earning rewards is not exclusive to merchants offering the application, allowing customers to each rewards from any business by scanning in receipts and then, using the integrated location-based recommendation, assigning that receipt to the appropriate business. Customers then receive cash back or local deals based on the number of ‘punches’ per merchant.

For participating merchants, the value is in the opportunity to offer immediate deals to consumers shopping locally who are tracking ‘punches’ to nearby businesses and enhance their communication with existing customers, all via personalized messages, offers, and VIP programs.

It’s a different model to the majority of mobile loyalty apps in the marketplace, which typically rely on QR or 2D bar code scans to track loyalty activity, active rewards and execute marketing campaigns. And, while the process of scanning in receipts and then associating them with a local merchant may be more cumbersome for the consumer, the ability to earn rewards from any merchant, without limitation, is enticing enough to attract attention.

New mobile applications continue to enter the payments marketplace servicing a wide variety of needs for merchants and consumers alike. With dozens of entries flooding the space each month, it’s our goal with, what has now become our ‘What Is’ series, to provide brief overviews of many of the new apps available. Giving merchants and developers an up-to-date look at the opportunities and technology currently available to them in the market today.