Loyalty programs can introduce payments and digital wallet capabilities via app solutions which allow members to hold everything in a single place (convergence). This feature allows members to use their loyalty account as an all-in-one wallet, which can support any established currency such as fiat currency, loyalty currencies and even a range of cryptocurrencies. The member can connect a bank account or a credit card to facilitate instant payments. The payments capability lets the member pay via their smartphone app, after selecting the funding source.
For example, payment apps in the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) industry allow members to register a credit card in the app. The member then orders via the menu in the app, with the payment automatically transacted. This process allows personalisation of experience by delivering offers relevant to member consumption history and time of day.
A range of apps allow consumers to store all their loyalty cards digitally, removing the need to carry plastic versions in their wallet. This allows quick access to any membership card that the member requires when transacting with a loyalty program. Some apps have API connections to certain loyalty programs, allowing them to access their points balances within the same app. As they hold the membership card for millions of members of different loyalty programs, the app companies may provide marketing services to the loyalty programs by sending offers directly through the app to members.
Stocardallows users to store all their reward cards in one app on their smartphone and collect points and rewards without having to carry around plastic loyalty cards. Their 50m users across 45 countries access the app on average every eight days, with over 500m plastic cards digitised. Users simply need to add one of their loyalty cards into Stocard by scanning the barcode or entering the member number manually. Users can access discount offers from participating partners, who pay advertising fees to Stocard to promote their brands to users. In 2020, Stocard introduced mobile payments, with UK-based Stocard users able to pay via a virtual Mastercard issued in the app. According to an EU-Startups article, ‘in the long run, Stocard wants to offer more financial products such as Point Of Sale lending (buy now, pay later), cashback, savings, allowing consumers to access them where it’s easiest and most convenient – all within their digital wallet. The company will offer these services at much better terms than banks by leveraging their existing relationship with the biggest and leading retailers across Europe.’ While China embraced app convergence many years ago (via Alipay and WeChat), the rest of the world is now slowly catching up. Björn Goß, founder and CEO of Stocard, sees a future involving the consolidation of shopping, payments and financial services in the digital wallet, where ‘our wallets are moving to our mobile phones, the digital wallet is becoming the central hub in our lives for anything around money, shopping, and banking.’
Stocard was so unbelievably successful that the business and associated technology was purchased in July 2021 by Klarna for an undisclosed amount rumoured to be in the tens of millions of Euros.
 Tucker, C., 2020, ‘German-based Stocard launches mobile wallet in the UK and a mobile payment feature, reaching 50 million users’, EU-Startups, https://www.eu-startups.com/2020/06/german-based-stocard-launches-mobile-wallet-in-the-uk-and-a-mobile-payment-feature-reaching-50-million-users/#:~:text=Today%20German%20fintech%20startup%20Stocard,reaches%2050%20million%2