Credit cards narrow the focus of their targeting programs
Credit card companies in the U.S. are taking the next step in using their points programs to influence what millions of customers buy, going as far as influencing what colour blender you might purchase.
American Express is piloting a program that will allow merchants to reward customers for purchasing specific items at their stores, starting with online merchant Boxed.
AmEx is starting small: giving bonus rewards points to Boxed customers who buy Dove soap, Planters nuts, Cheerios cereal and a handful of other items. But AmEx expects to open the program to nearly all their merchants in the coming months.
Customers will benefit by expanding the number of ways they can earn points. The program also helps Amex, by giving merchants another reason to keep accepting American Express cards, which tend to be the most expensive for merchants to process.
Credit card companies have long been able to reward spending at particular types of merchants, using what are known as merchant codes. That’s how credit cards are able to give extra points or cash back on gasoline, travel, hotels and other broad categories.
But targeting individual items on a store’s shelf was a tough barrier to break. Merchants’ inventory systems are different from company to company. AmEx says they were able to solve the problem using blockchain technology developed by Hyperledger. It enables AmEx and merchants to generate product-targeted offers while allowing merchants to keep their own inventory management systems.
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By KEN SWEETThe Associated Press
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