Putting the Fun in virtual loyalty cards

* Fun Communications launches virtual information card for the loyalty card business

Towards the end of last week's Digital ID World show, as at most such gatherings, people greet you with "How're you doin'? Have you seen anything interesting?" Frequently the answer is no, there's just more of the same (and there was a lot of that at the event). But I did see something that got me a bit excited. But, oddly enough, I didn't see it "at" the show. It was - wonder of wonders - a press release that crossed my desk from Germany's engagingly named Fun Communications announcing the launch of its information card service.

Now there aren’t a lot of managed card providers yet, so it’s news when someone steps up to provide that service. But wait, there’s more!

Fun Communications is in the “loyalty card” business, you know those discount cards you get from the grocery store and other retailers which – in exchange for allowing them to collect your purchase history – gives you discounts and perks that non-card holders don’t get.

Now Fun Communications is launching a virtual loyalty card, based on information card technology. According to the release, “Dealers and portal operators can generate their very own virtual loyalty and bonus cards in just three steps at www.webcard-loyalty.com.”

The value to the vendor is data: “…the virtual loyalty card provides both dealers and identity providers with an instrument for targeted marketing measures (bonus point programs, discounts on partner sites, partner advertising, coupon promotions) that enable them to build up long-term customer and partner loyalty. The customer identification and improved customer profiles open up interesting and profitable business models within the partner network.”

But there’s value to the card holder (in addition to the discounts, promotions, etc.) because information cards are – first and foremost – a single sign-on (SSO) technology. Or, as Fun says: “…the virtual loyalty card means that different user names and passwords are now a thing of the past. The technology is based upon the open standard for information cards that is available for almost all operating systems and browsers [as well as] in the Windows CardSpace technology. CardSpace provides a reliable and secure authentication and authorization mechanism (user-centric identity management), which due to its client technology is immune to phishing attacks.”

Single sign-on, antiphishing and discounts! That should bring the punters in, I’d think. But, seriously, while I still think that information cards can be a major addition to an enterprise network it’s programs like this that will introduce it to your users who will then wonder why something similar isn’t available in the workplace. Check out the whole program at the WebCard Loyalty Web site and you might also look at Fun’s directory of information card providers and acceptors.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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