The Plastic Loyalty Membership Card Will Soon Be Replaced By . . . You

Most loyalty programs still require members to carry a plastic loyalty card around in their wallet. For the last several years industry commentators have been predicting their demise, with digital cards the main alternative touted.

Here at Loyalty & Reward Co, however, we believe what will ultimately replace the plastic loyalty card is . . . You.

We’re super-excited by a number of recent biometric identification trials and product launches happening around the world which support our case.

Current trials and innovations in this space include voice biometrics used as a security feature for money transfers by ANZ Bank, fingerprint boarding pass trialled by Delta Airlines and facial recognition enabled payments within KFC in Hangzhou, China set up by Alibaba.

ANZ Bank: ‘Grow by ANZ’ app allows customers to make transfers of over $1,000 and BPAY payments of over $10,000 using voice recognition. This feature has been developed to enhance the user experience for smart phone users who rely on the agility of mobile banking, such as small businesses.

Delta Airlines: The US carrier is currently trialing fingerprint scanning as a boarding pass to streamline the experience for SkyMiles members. Select customers can access Delta Sky Club lounges and their aircraft using only their fingerprint. In the next phase of the trial, bag check-in will also be fingerprint enabled. Delta believe staff will be better able to focus on customer service support, such as seat changes, if they’re freed up from manually scanning tickets and ID.

Alibaba & KFC: The leading Chinese juggernaut and the southern-fried chicken king have introduced a secure payment service, where members can ‘smile to pay’ utilising facial recognition in a KFC restaurant in Hangzhou. Customers must be registered to the Alipay mobile app and use one of the stores self-service terminals to access the service.

These innovations are being driven by a vision to enhance the customer experience by streamlining the ways in which customers engage; an injection of convenience. Instead of PIN numbers and passwords, bulky paper tickets and ID, cash or cards, biometrics grant customers instant access to funds, flights and airport lounges, baggage check in and payment methods, all with enhanced security features.

We eagerly await further developments in biometrics in the loyalty space as a way to streamline and enhance the quality of relationships with members. Plastic cards are soon to go the way of DVD stores.

By Philip Shelper & Dr Kate Ireland

Philip Shelper is CEO of Loyalty & Reward Co, and a specialist loyalty consultant. He continually obsesses about everything to do with loyalty and rewards.

Dr Kate Ireland is CMO of Loyalty & Reward Co, and a tireless researcher who spends bucket-loads of time searching for the next big advance in customer engagement. 

Loyalty & Reward Co are a leading loyalty consulting firm.

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