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Tech

Is this the future of coffee loyalty cards?

Posted by Tim / November 21, 2011

Smartphone loyalty cardsCoffee loyalty cards have always been a pain. Writing from personal experience, inevitably my card gets lost, ripped or disintegrates in the wash before I accumulate the ten or whatever number of stamps required to get my free latte. Some cafes like Te Aro have tried to solve this problem by keeping the cards on file, but even this isn't an ideal solution. There has to be a better way.

And now there is. Enter Punchd, a new mobile app (available for both iPhone and Android) that stores digital stamps on your smartphone. I spotted this recently at Thor Espresso Bar and here's how it works:

  • Once I have the free app downloaded to my smartphone I simply scan a QR code that the barista presents me after I purchase my drink. The scan takes about a second and immediately adds a stamp to my digital loyalty card. The app knows which loyalty card it is in part due to the geo-location of my phone. It knows which cafe I'm at.
  • From there it's up to each cafe to define the rules for the promotion. In the case of Thor, the card says once I buy ten coffees I qualify for a free dopio espresso based drink that costs $4 or less.

PunchdInterestingly, it appears that Punchd isn't alone at making moves into this space. The Google-owned company has competition from Perka as well as Toronto-based CardFox which just unveiled itself a few days ago at Startup Weekend. They make their money by charging business owners a monthly fee. According to someone I talked to at Thor, they've been using the app for two weeks. They're one of two businesses to be doing so in the Toronto-area (the other is Burger Bar in Kensington Market).

What do you think of this idea? It it something you'd use? Add your thoughts to the comment form below.

Discussion

12 Comments

Nick / November 21, 2011 at 02:51 pm
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It's a great idea, as long as business actually use it.
AV / November 21, 2011 at 03:03 pm
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Half of my wallet is in my smartphone now anyways, so why not
Martin replying to a comment from Nick / November 21, 2011 at 03:05 pm
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Nick is spot on, has anyone come across any other retailers using this?
Tulse / November 21, 2011 at 03:15 pm
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I really want this on my phone -- I am tired of having to keep track of physical cards.

However, I'd think this was more susceptible to fraud, as I'd guess that it is easier to get a photo of a QR code than steal a physical unique punch device. Just sayin'.

(And the folks at CardFox might want to do a more thorough name search, since there is already an app on the iTune App Store with that name.)
Vanessa / November 21, 2011 at 03:18 pm
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Brilliant! I really hope more businesses start using this; being an absent-minded-card-losing discount junkie has made life difficult up until now.
Bird / November 21, 2011 at 03:54 pm
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Cant wait till the hack comes out, free stuff!!
heather / November 21, 2011 at 04:09 pm
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@martin

i think the folks over at GuestEngine have a similar application but it works on all phones through SMS and they have integrated with some of the leading POS companies. so you aren't limited to specific phones (iphones) and they can create all kinds of loyalty programs other than just a punch-card.
Ilya / November 21, 2011 at 04:21 pm
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Speaking of QR codes. Here is another cool app called QRiket. Check app store. You scan qr codes and can win instantly an also can create a team with your Facebook friends and compete with other teams for monthly jackpots!
Neil / November 21, 2011 at 09:24 pm
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Forget this... What we need is for Square to bring Card Case to Canada.
Hackathon / December 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm
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But can I not just take a picture of the QR and give myself stamps?? And get FREE STUFF!!!
Emil Koutanov / June 14, 2012 at 08:47 pm
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Punchd isn't secure, as anyone can scan the code. An interesting alternative is the MazeCard loyalty program
Grahame / February 26, 2014 at 09:14 pm
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Punchd is gone, but similar technology is available from VIP Coffee Club.

The QR code more secure than you might think, if you photograph it and try to give yourself points at home, it doesn't work.

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