Data insight the new battleground for credit cards

The credit card market isn’t as clear-cut as most. The basic product function, the cards themselves, are often pretty difficult to distinguish between.

Russell Parsons

Deregulation in the 80s allowed for more competition and a never-ending round and round of balance transfer offers.

To offset the commoditisation, the big players have elevated the importance of brand-building and sought to add value to both end users – customers – and intermediaries – retailers.

MasterCard offers “Priceless” experiences to customers, Visa has its high profile Olympic sponsorship, American Express recently launched geo-location services in the UK and now Barclaycard has Bespoke.

Bespoke, which launched this week, is a website that promises to offer recession hit UK consumers thousands of personalised promotions from brands such as Tesco, Starbucks, Shell and BA based on their shopping habits and preferences.

I am not going to dwell on the merits of bespoke as a B2C product, except to say that its focus on savings and not deals and level of personalisation should ensure it lasts longer than other established brands that have entered the deals market and exited almost as quickly, shy of a USP in a crowded market – Nectar and Trinity Mirror among them.

What is as interesting, and relevant to the direct marketing community, is the opportunity Barclaycard has spotted to use bespoke as a data insight tool for marketers to better plan campaigns and target existing and prospective consumers.

Partners will be offered aggregated, non-personal data such as the offers bought and downloaded by existing and new customers as well as the gender, income and age of those registering for deals.

Barclaycard processes 50 per cent of all credit card transactions in the UK each year, data from which will be fed into bespoke to offer users personalised recommendations. A combination that could produce mouth watering data insight for direct marketers.

Plans to monetise the service are under wraps at present. A spokeswoman for Barclaycard, keen not to sully the product launch announcement, said bespoke was currently at “investment stage”.

Bespoke B2B services could be the real result of the service’s launch, however. It could also prove to be the next battleground in the payment services market as the major players look to leverage their own data. The real winners of this will be direct marketers.

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