When it comes to customer loyalty programs, the concept seems to be more appealing in theory than in practice. From a shopper’s perspective, the setup process usually requires filling up an extensive form in-store to activate a loyalty card and, to actually benefit from the program, means always having the card on us. This system proves to be inefficient in many ways considering the sheer number of retailers at which we shop. And, in the age of mobile phones, virtual wallets, and Apple Pay, we most likely leave these cards at home, hence defeating their purpose.
The truth is, as consumers, we all want (or at least would not mind) to win some freebies and discounts but the current tedious processes of loyalty programs make us unwilling to adhere. However at STATION F, we know one startup that is about to change the game. Joko, part of Facebook Startup Garage, builds a mobile app that wants to reward your everyday spending. We interview co-founder and CEO Xavier Starkloff to find out how they are innovating a traditional system in dire need.
STATION F: What is Joko?
Xavier Starkloff: Joko is a fintech mobile app that rewards everyday spending by turning your regular debit or credit card into a universal loyalty card. You just have to link the app to your card, and then you start earning reward points seamlessly whenever you spend at brands like Uber, McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc. You can redeem your points for gift cards from any brand you like, or convert them into donations for charities. In short, Joko is a simple and universal loyalty program integrated into your payment card.
SF: Do users scan the app across merchants?
XS: For consumers, it’s completely effortless: there’s nothing to scan, to say, or to show. You just pay with your regular payment card as usual, and then you get notified in the Joko app that you’ve earned points. Our technology relies on a recent regulation called PSD2 which forces banks to let consumers take back control over their data. Banks have to comply with this regulation and let third-parties, like Joko, access – with consumers’ consent – their transaction data. Joko allows consumers to leverage this open data opportunity to get the loyalty and rewards experience they’ve been waiting for a long time: seamless, personalized, and centralized.
SF: Who are your first clients?
XS: We currently have 30+ merchant partners. We work with both millennial-focused retailers and brands such as Birchbox, Cityscoot, Bolt, Heetch, etc., and with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Franprix, Fnac, Leroy Merlin, Printemps, etc. For merchants, we are a way to acquire, retain and engage with millennial consumers which are a strategic target for them. They are the consumers of tomorrow, they are the future. We also help them understand who their consumers are, through aggregated and anonymized market insights.
SF: What is your business model?
XS: It’s performance-based, which means we earn money when our users earn rewards. We are basically a marketplace, with two sides: retailers and consumers. Whenever retailers credit points to consumers, we charge retailers a commission which is a fraction of the reward. This way, the user gets rewarded, retailers make additional sales, and we get a commission, so everybody’s winning.