Perfect Pairings: True Love Trifecta (and the Top Break-Up Contender)

CEO, Market Platform Dynamics
5:28 PM EDT February 13th, 2012

Ah, Valentine’s Day – the day when love reigns supreme and couples rule. In the spirit of bringing a little romance to payments and PYMNTS.com – here are a few irresistible couples that everyone in payments really should <heart>, well, with one exception.

Plastic cards and mag stripes. Yes, I know, it’s so 20th century but talk about a powerful pair! Without mag stripes, plastic cards are well, just plain dumb and pretty useless at the point of sale. When the urge arises at your favorite merchant, the last thing you want is a failure at checkout. These oldies but goodies will keep you smiling all the way home for a long time to come.

Apple and iTunes. Maybe it’s just because I am fresh off of watching the Grammies, but Apple and iTunes has made it oh-so-easy to buy songs (and movies and TV Shows) and to take them just about anywhere there is an internet connection, including the TV screen. The one click check out is frictionless and has made is possible for ~200 million people to hear a song and own it a few seconds (and $.99) later. It’s changed the music industry and commerce along with it.

Facebook and commerce. It’s a new relationship, but will become a powerful couple that will one day drive a boatload of commerce. Facebook is being used increasingly to search for products, query friends for recommendations, and interact with merchants. The problem is that, for most brands, there’s not much engagement (content is sort of weak) and there’s not much to buy even if you wanted to. That will change as clever schemes emerge to crack the commerce conundrum on Facebook, it will just take some time for this romance to blossom.

Loyalty and Rewards points. Here is a couple that needs a breakup, or at least a big time marriage counselor. Loyalty 1.0 was built on rewards points that were pegged to what you spent. Problem is most people didn’t redeem most of those points since the redemption formulas and options were pretty underwhelming and it only worked if people bought stuff and used the same card to do it (yes, I know, that was the whole point). But, we all know that customer relationships are a whole lot more valuable than a point or two or a thousand, and loyalty is a whole lot more important a concept than throwing a few (commoditized) points programs at it and hope for the best. The whole space needs an overhaul, and this is one pairing that might need to be broken up.


Karen Webster is the CEO of Market Platform Dynamics (MPD), a consulting firm that helps companies find, implement and monetize innovation. She serves as an advisor and member of the board for a number of companies operating in the payment, technology and digital media industries. More info here.

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