Visa has partnered with U.S.-based fintech novae to launch an omnichannel digital rewards platform for Visa card-issuing banks in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The collaboration with San Francisco-based novae is an example of the card network's open approach to fintech.

The Visa Loyalty Solutions platform provides Visa LAC member banks with a ready-built digital points redemption scheme that they can white-label to their cardholders.

“We haven’t seen a similar omnichannel rewards and loyalty platform from anyone else in the LAC region,” Ricardo Tafur, vice president of consumer products for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean, said. “Our solution has great possibilities for consumers, as it has a very wide range of offerings.”

Visa cards
Bloomberg News

According to novae, the VLS platform allows banks to implement efficient loyalty programs that minimize costs and streamline processes, while enabling higher profit margins on a large redemption inventory and incorporating local offers.

“At Visa, we’re opening collaboration channels with fintechs to solve the problems experienced by our clients,” said Tafur. “Novae brings us complementary technology skills for Visa products.”

Other partners of novae include Visa subsidiary CyberSource, Brazilian payments company BPP, formerly called Brasil Pré-Pagos, the Canopius Syndicate at Lloyd's, and Expedia. Novae is part of a&a Co., a San Francisco-based equity investment company focused on creating, acquiring and investing in businesses in the AI, mobile services and payments/loyalty fields. Novae has a business and innovation hub in Miami, an insurtech hub in London, U.K, and shared service centers in Buenos Aires and Bogotá.

“The platform is designed for small and medium-sized banks which struggle to compete with big banks in terms of building relationships with their cardholders,” said Sergio Arana, novae's CEO and founder. “It enables them to provide their own loyalty platform to their customers, while competing with the big banks.”

The platform, which can be accessed via a mobile app and web portal as well as by chat and voice, provides flights and hotels from Expedia’s travel inventory plus events and destination activities from Viator, a TripAdvisor company. Novae plans to develop a capability for users to redeem their points using wearables, Arana said.

According to Visa, the platform’s access to inventory on Viator and Expedia provides members with the option to redeem points and get preferential deals at over 285,000 hotels plus hundreds of airlines, a network of car rental companies, tours, amusement parks and other entertainment options.

“In Latin America, consumers have typically had to go to through an intermediary to redeem their reward points for travel,” said Arana. “The advantage of our platform is that consumers go direct to our inventory on Expedia and Viator to redeem their points.”

Reward points earned through the platform act as a digital currency which can be redeemed for travel and other services as if they were cash. Members can use their Visa cards to top up their points to complete purchases on the platform, and the price of their purchase is displayed in U.S. dollars as well as points.

The platform offers a cashback functionality, which means that members earn and redeem points any time that they purchase travel or other services using their Visa card on the platform.

“Novae provides the entire fulfilment process for Visa’s VLS platform, and we work with CyberSource on the payments processing side of the platform,” Arana said. “We can provide up to 35 percent in discount on Expedia’s prices for users of VLS.”

The VLS platform is now live, said Tafur.

“Visa has started the migration process with some of our existing bank clients to the platform,” he noted. “One bank has introduced the platform, and 14 others are in the pipeline to come into production quite soon. Our platform is complementary to existing loyalty programs offered by Visa card issuers in LAC. It isn’t meant to be exclusive, so issuers have the choice of using both our platform and their own, or just using ours.”

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