Exclusive Interview With Geoff Kent, VP of Product Partnerships at Points: The Global Leader in Loyalty Commerce Transactions and Currency Management

Points—the global leader in loyalty commerce transactions and currency management—provides solutions that enhance the management and monetization of loyalty currencies, from frequent flyer miles and hotel points to retailer and credit card rewards for a growing list of 50+ partners worldwide. The company brings years of industry experience, technological expertise and a one-of-a-kind loyalty commerce platform to the world's top loyalty brands. The LTP team had the pleasure interviewing Geoff Kent, VP of Product Partnerships at Points, on the challenges in loyalty program maintenance and the value they can bring to the companies. Here is the transcript of the interview:

LTP: Please tell us the story behind Points and the solution you offer.

Geoff Kent: At Points, our mission is to make loyalty programs more valuable and engaging both for consumers and merchants. We bring years of experience building and enhancing loyalty programs for some of the largest players in the loyalty space. Loyalty shouldn’t be a burden or another hoop to jump through in the process of transacting, but instead, it should be an easy-to-access, convenient and valuable experience—which is exactly why we created the Points Loyalty Wallet.

The Points Loyalty Wallet is a set of platform capabilities accessible via APIs that makes it easy to incorporate loyalty commerce into products such as apps, websites and most importantly, digital and mobile wallets. Through Points’ global network of merchants, apps and loyalty partners, the Points Loyalty Wallet integrates loyalty into everyday transactions—allowing consumers to connect with and interact with loyalty programs like never before.

LTP: How do you differentiate yourself in the crowded loyalty programs market and the value you bring to your partners and users?

GK: Our biggest point of differentiation is our loyalty commerce platform. The world of loyalty programs is continually growing and it’s difficult to navigate. We’ve partnered with more than 50 of the world’s largest loyalty programs and allow access to these programs through a single self-serve integration point through our platform.

LTP: What makes a loyalty program effective? What are the most effective loyalty programs existing in the market?

GK: The name of the game in loyalty is engagement; all effective loyalty programs are able to engage their users. One of the best ways to keep users engaged is to offer a variety of earning opportunities. The more ways they can attain meaningful perks and rewards, the longer they’ll stay engaged.

Loyalty programs work best when they can meet users where they are. If you’re targeting tech-savvy millennials, consider using digital or mobile methods. And in today’s digital age, where we’re exchanging information about ourselves for greater access, personalization and the ability to offer targeted, relevant rewards is key.

One example of a successful loyalty program that almost everyone is familiar with is the My Starbucks Rewards program. Not only does Starbucks effectively engage their users through the mobile app, making it easy and admittedly fun to earn stars for each coffee, but they also explore different partnerships that allow their customers to earn those stars in different ways, such as a through taking a ride with Lyft. Starbucks now becomes a part of your cab ride, taking the distribution and engagement with its brand even further.

LTP: What are the main problems in the existing loyalty programs in the market? How do you plan to solve them?

GK: One of the big problems we see is that a lot of households are part of so many loyalty programs; statistics show that each household belongs to at least 29, but only eight are used actively. Companies invest a lot of money into loyalty programs, so it’s important these programs resonate and engage consumers effectively.

The relevance of loyalty offers plays an important role in keeping users engaged. Not only are consumers demanding offers that are pertinent to them, but they want to receive those offers via channels they’re already using. At Points, we’re providing solutions for everyone—from merchants to mobile wallets, to incorporate loyalty—and are laying the foundation to be able to send targeted loyalty opportunities via mobile devices.

LTP: What are the challenges companies have to address creating and maintaining the loyalty program?

GK: For companies setting up a loyalty program, the biggest challenge lies in capturing consumer attention. Companies must ensure they’re providing relevant offers and opportunities for customers to earn and redeem their loyalty rewards. And to keep users engaged for the long haul, loyalty programs need to establish the consumer value of their currency, providing unique ways for customers to spend and earn more miles and points.

At Points, we provide the rails for loyalty companies to easily implement relevant and engaging programs.

LTP: How does mobile transform the way loyalty programs work and what effect does it have on consumers?

GK: Mobile is the way we live. Everything is digital now—from how we hail a cab to how we pay for our latte. Just as payments have been making a shift to mobile platforms, loyalty needs to go mobile as well. The fact of the matter is that people are using their phones more and more every day, and loyalty has to be accessible via that platform to remain relevant.

This is exactly why we developed the Points Loyalty Wallet, creating the rails for merchants, loyalty programs and other interested businesses to easily incorporate loyalty into their products.

LTP: What role does a loyalty program play in driving mobile payment adoption and usage of the loyalty reward points as a form of currency?

GK: We all know that mobile payments adoption has been relatively slow thus far. We haven’t yet reached the point where consumers are willing to ditch their leather wallet, because they need greater incentive to do so. Is it really more convenient to pull out your phone, key in your passcode and pull up the correct app? Arguably, not yet.

What we believe will tip the scales for mobile payment adoption is adding value and making mobile transactions more efficient. The more you can do in a single tap of the phone—such as conduct a transaction and earn or redeem loyalty rewards—the more likely you’ll be to make the change.

Then, as consumers continue to adopt this form of payment and mobile wallet platforms integrate loyalty, they open the door to make it easier to provide more relevant loyalty rewards transactions every day.

LTP: At Money2020, you made an announcement about collaboration with the Royal Bank of Canada. Could you please tell us more about it? What are your expectations from this collaboration?

GK: Consumers are looking for value beyond the ease of payments and transactions on their mobile devices. At Money 20/20, we announced our partnership with the Royal Bank of Canada to enable mobile loyalty transactions. Together with RBC, we’ll be offering consumers the ability to access and manage all of their favorite rewards programs in one convenient location and earn rewards in their desired currency. Our aim is to demonstrate how a loyalty-enabled wallet will drive mobile engagement by ultimately delivering more value to consumer. More information to come in November.