First Data Corp., a global electronic commerce and payment processing firm, announced Tuesday that it has acquired Perka, provider of a smart loyalty program.

Perka became a First Data subsidiary earlier this month and continues to operate autonomously as an entrepreneurial company led by its current management and product development team. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Perka is a mobile marketing and consumer loyalty platform that helps small to medium-sized merchants with location-based smartphone apps. The Perka Punchcard service and Perka Flexpoints for retail stores and sit-down restaurants deliver personal marketing and incentive programs to consumers.

The cloud-hosted platform features merchant-validated transactions, triggered offers, mobile messaging and retail customer relationship data for the merchant.

"The loyalty industry is rapidly moving from being proprietary and closed to open and interconnected. This shift opens up tremendous opportunities for small and mid-sized businesses to run virtually the same mobile marketing programs as major brands,” said Alan Chung, CEO at Perka. “We’re excited to join forces with First Data to revolutionize the loyalty space and level the playing ground for smaller merchants with the Perka platform.”

Based in New York City and Portland, Ore., Perka operates loyalty programs for businesses ranging from neighborhood coffee shops to ultra-modern retailers and supports active merchants in all 50 states, Canada, the U.K., Australia, Africa and Latin America.

“Perka is a strong addition to the offerings we have for our merchants today and we welcome them to the First Data product family,” said Guy Chiarello, president, First Data. “Loyalty is a critical component of the seamless shopping experience that consumers are demanding as they engage with mobile phones more than ever. With Perka’s open and scalable platform, merchants of any size now have agility to customize a mobile loyalty marketing program that works for their business needs.”

With Perka, merchants create a unique set of loyalty rewards and incentives tailored to their business. When a customer makes a purchase at a participating merchant, they check-in using the free Perka smartphone app or by sending an SMS text message. The check-in displays the customer name and how actively they shop on the merchant’s mobile tablet, webpage or linked point-of-sale system.

This personal interaction helps merchants to get to know their regular customers better. The merchant validates each purchase and the consumer continues to collect points until redeemed for selected perks. Business owners also can deliver custom messages and special offers directly to customers’ phones that encourage repeat visits and additional sales.

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