September 13, 2012

MasterCard announced a new partnership yesterday with Linkable Networks, a card offers and rewards company, to open up a whole new segment of the rewards market to its cardholders. Of the more than $4 billion in coupons and rewards redeemed by American consumers each year, explains Linkable Networks CEO Tom Burgess, 70 percent of them were at the individual product, or SKU, level. Until now credit card rewards programs have not been able to offer rewards at that level. The cardholder might get a reward for $50 dollars to spend at a store, but not $50 off a specific item at that store.

Linkable Networks, however, is going to enable MasterCard to be the first card company to offer those individual item rewards. The deal comes on the heels of last week's announcement of MasterCard's new partnership with Truaxis, another company that provides card loyalty offers.

[See Related: MasterCard Acquires Truaxis ]

After registering and downloading offers, the offers will then be linked to cardholders' MasterCard accounts, and they can redeem it by paying with their card. Customers will be able to download offers with their mobile phone as well, by scanning a QR code or entering the coupon number manually.

Burgess is quick to note that Linkable Networks is the only rewards company that can offer customers individual item level discounts, and adds that it will provide MasterCard with much more personalized customer data as well. Instead of just knowing what stores their customers like to shop at, the individual item offers will help the card company find out what specific items their customers are using their rewards points and coupons for. MasterCard's Mario Shiliashki, the senior VP of Emerging Payments, says that MasterCard will also be able to share that personalized data with its issuers, including its partner financial institutions. The rewards partnership will go live in early November, according to both companies.

Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...