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Co-founders Dev Subrata and Andre Elias had a very different venture in mind when they launched Fidel in 2012.

Today, the company’s mission is to democratise access to payment data, globally. Their card-linking API makes it easy for businesses including Klarna, The Royal Bank of Canada and Avios to access real-time payment data from Visa, Mastercard and Amex. Acting as the plumbing that delivers data, they’re helping businesses get closer to their customers and build better, more engaging experiences.

But what’s now an API started life as a marketing app for retailers. Fidel’s CTO, Andre, had the idea after completing his Masters in Software Engineering and studying beacons that could collect time-sensitive data. “I started to think about how we could deploy these devices in the real world”, he explains.  “I wanted to see how they could generate offline data that could be used by retailers and other industries to create more personalised experiences for consumers.”

As many retailers will know, data about shoppers’ online behaviour is plentiful. But understanding how they behave offline – and crucially, being able to join the dots between the two – is much harder. Since 85% of UK consumers still prefer to shop in-store, addressing the knowledge gap is imperative.

In London, CEO Dev was working on a similar project that would digitalise card-based loyalty programmes. Together, they built Fidel, an app that would combine loyalty card data with in-store beacon device data and put it all into a dashboard for retailers. But it soon pivoted to its current incarnation when the real issues for retailers attempting to build loyalty programmes became apparent.

“To build the app, we had to go direct to the card networks to get hold of the transaction data”, says Dev. “It was expensive, time-consuming, complex, and required us to go through a lot of very rigorous compliance certification”. Instead, the co-founders switched focus to build an API which would act as a direct pipeline into the card networks, and provide easy, fast access to data. It would save time, cost and development resource for businesses, who could receive and react to consumer transaction data in real-time.

It’s been a game-changer for Fidel’s growing roster of global clients, who are using the technology to build frictionless loyalty programmes for their customers. Through the API, shoppers can connect their own payment card direct to loyalty programmes in a couple of clicks. They then shop as usual, with no need for store cards, QR codes or vouchers. Businesses receive granular transaction data from the cards in real-time, so that notifications of rewards or offers earned can be sent to shoppers instantly.

Shopping centre operator intu has seen a significant uptick in engagement since launching its new card-linked loyalty app, Pocket. As Commercial Director Trevor Pereira explains, “We’re trying to find the best way to blend customers’ digital experiences and habits with their physical shopping experience at an intu centre. We want to reach people in a way that’s relevant to them wherever they are.” Card-linking was the obvious choice and has already driven a 47% increase in customer transaction value.

With a payments API to come in 2020, Fidel will soon be able to push cashback payments to cards, too – removing even more friction for customers. “Our goal at Fidel is to supercharge innovation by empowering everyone in the ecosystem,” says Dev. “We’re proud to be helping retailers create frictionless loyalty programmes to drive value back to consumers in real-time”.

To find out more about how intu created their card-linked loyalty programme and what results they’re seeing, check out the Q&A with Trevor Pereira. Or to speak to Fidel directly, visit www.fidel.uk.

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