On October 27th at Las Vegas, CEO of edo Souheil Badran participated in a panel and shared his insights on card-linking as an emerging essential tool for digital commerce. The LTP team interviewed Souheil on the subject and Souheil talked about his vision of the future of the solution and edo’s announcement at Money 20/20. Here is the transcript of the interview with Souheil:
LTP: For LTP readers who may not be familiar with your company, please tell us about edo and how edo helps businesses to find new customers. Who are your biggest clients and how fast is the company growing?
Souheil Badran: We are a platform for card-linked marketing offers. Working with financial institutions and brand advertisers, we use our analytics capabilities to better understand consumer spend and create offers for credit and debit-card holders that target exactly the kind of customer that a brand is seeking to attract.
LTP: Could you tell more about edo's card-linked offer platform? How does it work? Would be great if you could share some statistics on the scale of your business.
SB: edo is a white-label platform; financial institutions run our Prewards platform on their own online banking site or banking app. Through these mechanisms, cardholders at those financial institutions—and there are about 40 million cardholders in our network—can access personalized offers from retailers, restaurants and service providers.
We decide which cardholders receive which offers based on their spending history, location and a few other factors. For example, a quick-service restaurant might want to target new customers in southwest Illinois. Our analytics team will find those cardholders who have never spent at that restaurant and live in the relevant area, and develop an offer to incentivize them to try the restaurant.
LTP: What are the problems with current solutions existing in the card-linked offers market that edo addresses? edo talks about the relevance of deals, so how are you able to make deals more relevant to the end-customers?
SB: The card-linked offers market is still a fairly niche space. There aren’t many companies doing what we do. One of the issues we face is awareness. Card-linked offers are quite novel and a lot of consumers just don’t know they exist, or we believe they’d be using them more!
As I mentioned, we have deep analytics capabilities and are able to pinpoint the relevance of an offer down to a single cardholder. This is especially useful for our small and medium-sized business advertisers who don’t need to reach customers nationwide, merely a handful of ZIP codes.
LTP: Personalized offers are the way to engage customers with merchants and drive sales. Could you share your vision on the way it is going to evolve? Where do you see the future of personalized advertising?
SB: What I would like to see happen is greater use of beacons and geo-targeting capabilities to really personalize offers and make them real-time. I’d like customer ABC from Dallas, Texas to walk down the street past a sandwich shop and receive a card-linked offer straight to their smartphone that says: “Hey! Come in for a $2 off our new sandwich.” Done properly, mobile advertising is a hugely underutilized resource for brands and I’d like to really focus on how we can drive customers that way.
LTP: On your website, you share an interesting idea of simplicity being the primary goal. It is a matter of time when simplicity will be a commonly given feature. What will be the competitive advantage then? FinTech startups are quite a hot industry; do you think simplicity can guarantee the winning?
SB: Simplicity is absolutely critical, and that’s one of the reasons why financial institutions want to partner with us—we offer a simple integration to the FI and a simple way for their clients to shop & save. No cutting coupons, no remembering a coupon code and no special training at the point-of-sale. If you’re paying with your card, you’re saving.
Smartphones have really helped improve the ability to simplify. If I forget my wallet, I have my smartphone with Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, a Starbucks app and my parking app—all linked to my debit card. If I want to collect loyalty points at a restaurant, the app has all my details stored. At this point, I could do all of my Christmas shopping on a smartphone, pay and use a card-linked offer without ever touching a computer or my actual debit card. That’s simplicity, and it’s becoming very appealing to consumers who are always on the go.
LTP: You recently announced a new partnership with Rewards Network. What value does this partnership add to your clients and what are your expectations for the partnership?
SB: Our partnerships with leaders like Rewards Network are really about two things: first, getting access to what we call “content”; those are the offers that we are sending to cardholders. Our financial institutions are begging us for new content all the time, and Rewards Network’s 11,000 participating restaurants across the US will definitely help us on that front!
Second, partnerships like this allow us to easily access a lot more SMBs—those restaurants that maybe have only one location or a handful in a certain region. At present, our focus is on leveraging the distribution network that already exists to help us scale. We would rather help enable our partners’ sales teams succeed with the help of our services rather than duplicating their efforts and sending sales teams out to thousands of different restaurant outlets to get content for cardholders. Through Rewards Network and others, we can access all of their diverse members for offer content.
LTP: Tell us more about your participation at Money 20/20 and edo's announcement on a similar tie-up. Who are you partnering with and what is the goal? How will the collaboration affect the industry and what does it add to your service?
SB: I’m here to talk more about card-linking on a panel, but our announcement today is about our new partnership with SaveAround. If you’re not familiar with the company, they publish coupon books in communities around the US that are sold by schools and other groups to fundraise. But as you will be well aware, the days of clipping a coupon and remembering to take it with you are quickly passing. What our partnership will do is allow SaveAround to digitize their coupons and send them to customers via edo’s Prewards platform—no clipping involved.
And again, this is a huge benefit for us, in that we capture access to content that we wouldn’t normally be able to get with our sales team (there are over 120 advertisers in the coupon book that I have, some national and some only located in suburban Chicago).