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  • Holly Glowaty

Canadian Innovations that are Changing the Loyalty Landscape

Before the COVID-19 outbreak the world of payments and engagement was already rapidly changing.

Now, as the world begins to enter a new type of normal, payment and customer engagement innovation is more vital than ever. In a recent Flourish Virtually content session, Kristen Thiry connected with two rising merchants to discuss their own unique strategies for improving the payments ecosystem that will be even more important in post-COVID times. 

For those who were unable to attend the presentations, here are some key highlights from both speakers:

Engage People

Len Covello, CTO of Engage People with special guest Amisha Parikh, Director Product Management and Loyalty Solutions with Mastercard. 

Len Covello

Many innovative organizations are utilizing loyalty programs to differentiate themselves and drive measurable results

One of the biggest misconceptions about programs is that they do not want loyalty points to be spent. Programs want their customers to spend points. 

The loyalty landscape is shifting to behavior based. 

Innovations in tech and communication channels have put the consumer in the driver’s seat increasing expectations and required responses – this creates a new level of demand that needs to be met quickly or programs can potentially lose the customer.

What are some of the biggest challenges seen in driving deeper customer loyalty?

  • The need for program use to be frictionless

  • Data security and managing fraud

  • Offering relevant rewards that are meaningful and have representative value and defining the right experiences to motivate customers ongoing

When did the pay with points trend start to gain traction, and how has it evolved?

  • Over the last decade we have seen instant and cashback rewards gain popularity, vs traditional aspirational rewards programs; driven in part by a changing demographic and the desire for simplicity, choice and control over time to reward

  • The perception around loyalty currency has shifted, and consumers view it as earned currency value, similar to how they view cash; as a result they want the same flexibility in currency use

  • The current environment will also further amplify this need; as the economy starts to rebuild post Covid19, being able to unlock rewards ubiquity and utilize loyalty currency like cash will continue to gain consumer preference as a financial asset

What should managers of loyalty programs know about pay with points program options?

  • Retailers are missing sales opportunities by not accepting this alternative payment option

  • In North America program members earn $200 billion and carry $100 billion in unused points that can be accessed

  • 44.5% of people who use points ‘top up’ (spend more) on a purchase (Engage People)


Erik Ashdown, VP Growth at Bidali

How does crypto help merchants with gift cards?

  • Provides a lot of insight into the global market and how people are using gift cards because crypto is global.

  • A lot of merchants offer gift cards in different countries but maybe not all and expansion can be difficult for some countries and merchants, a crypto-based offering can help. 

  • Provides usable tools for countries without well-established banking systems.

What can be done to increase crypto-based gift card and points programs use today?

  • Implement strategies to overcome the negative stigma around crypto. 

  • Talking to suppliers about different ways to use crypto and the benefits such as no wires, no delay, no fraudulent activity. 

  • Crypto can help merchants run payments that are more secure and build better gift cards. By building on a public blockchain there is more transparency. Additionally, iImmediacy and fraud prevention are of huge value for merchants to consider when evaluating opportunities with the blockchain.

  • It’s not about that it’s on blockchain or using crypto but it’s about what it enables and empowers people to do. 

What has been one thing that has kept crypto from progressing in the mainstream gift card space?

  • Historically builders didn’t have business knowledge and people with a business knowledge didn’t have the skills to build but this is changing.

What would you suggest if a merchant wants to leverage this as a platform?

  • Some merchants already are, we know Wal-Mart filed a patent for a 1:1 stable cryptocurrency and there’s a general assumption Amazon is building something as well so we expect to see merchants start to roll this out. 

  • Bidali is starting an internal product to do its own universal gift card in order to solve a number of issues which will likely be an external product after testing. 

  • There’s no one size fits all answer right now, but there is testing and iteration around the topic so it’s important for merchants to be aware of what’s available. 

For those that want to learn more about these innovative companies, you can visit and

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