RewardsNow Inc. has launched an online retail-shopping platform to enable consumers to earn extra rewards and financial institutions to increase revenue through greater card use, the loyalty-marketing services provider announced late last month.

ShoppingFling, an additional component to Dover, N.H.-based RewardsNow’s existing loyalty programs, enables consumers to earn more reward points for shopping at merchants within the ShoppingFling network, Anne Gaudette, RewardsNow vice president of product development, tells PaymentsSource.

For example, an issuer’s loyalty program may enable cardholders to earn one point per $2 spent anywhere. But they may earn extra points if they shop at a merchant within the ShoppingFling network, Gaudette says. Some merchants also may offer additional deals such as free shipping, she adds.

The program enables issuers to earn additional revenue because “merchants pay a discount rate to the rewards provider, and a portion of that is paid to the issuer,” Steve VanFleet, president and CEO of RewardsNow, tells PaymentsSource in an e-mail.

For instance, if a customer spends $100, the merchant pays 5%, or $5, and $2.50 of that goes to the issuer, VanFleet explains.

Moreover, ShoppingFling also enables financial institutions to “strengthen loyalty programs and encourage more spend on cards,” Van Fleet adds.

Participating consumers may redeem points for merchandise, gift cards and discounted goods at any merchant in the ShoppingFling network, or they may donate the value to charity, VanFleet says.

The additional program is free to both financial institutions and consumers. Consumers already participating in a RewardsNow-based loyalty program at a bank or credit union automatically are enrolled, Gaudette notes. 

RewardsNow also automatically will upgrade financial institutions using its services to process their loyalty programs, VanFleet says. “Of the 300 financial institutions we work with, about 12 are currently up and running with the ShoppingFling component,” he adds.

About 90% of participating merchants only offer rewards online, Gaudette says. Consumers may visit the ShoppingFling network website to locate participating brick-and-mortar merchants by ZIP code, she notes.

“The site produces a map similar to Google maps, showing consumers where each merchant is located and what type of discount the merchant offers, Gaudette says.

RewardsNow also plans to add local merchants to its network within the next year, VanFleet says.

Companies such as RewardsNow have little to lose by adding a merchant-funded benefit because debit card issuers may shut down their internal rewards programs because of cost issues resulting from impending Federal Reserve Board changes in debit card interchange rates, says Ron Shevlin, an analyst for Boston-based Aite Group LLC.

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