Is credit card alliance Foursquare’s saving grace?

By now you’ve probably heard that Foursquare had initiated a retail program that allows users to check in to locations and save money with their Visa or MasterCard. In fact, it’s been almost two years since Foursquare created this initiative with American Express.

The most recent announcement is quite interesting as Forbes opined at the beginning of the year that Foursquare was doomed for failure in 2013. Which leads me to ask this question: Will this latest initiative with Visa and MasterCard help Foursquare become relevant, profitable and an important ally of retailers?

American Express partnered with Foursquare on offering discounts two years ago.

Time will tell but I think it is not too early to say yes.

  1. Immediate ROI. Retailers (and all businesses for that matter) have been concerned about the value of social media ever since it was determined that one could actually measure social media. Participating retailers will find ROI from this program just by plugging in. However, they will still need to actively engage and communicate with their community and potential audience members. Now that this opportunity has been handed to them how innovative will retailers become to attract people via social media in general and Foursquare specifically? And what active role will Foursquare play in this? Will we see sales offices open up similar to their social media cousins such as Facebook and LinkedIn?
  2. Huge big data opportunity. Big Data is going to continue to be huge in 2013 and this is just one example of why. Foursquare and the credit card companies are the biggest winners here. For years, credit card companies have been harvesting data on the purchasing habits of customers. Foursquare has been compiling data (although not as rich) for a few years now. This marriage of sorts will – for the first time – now combine consumer behaviour and social media. In fact, I believe that American Express’ recent partnership with retailers and Twitter is a direct result of lessons learned (and data obtained) from their Foursquare initiative of two years ago. Look for Visa, MasterCard and American Express to use this data to offer special services, insights and even products to their corporate and consumer clients in the very near future. Also look for Foursquare to continue working with retailers and credit cards companies to be their social media partner.
  3. The importance of the check-in. Many retailers still rely heavily on their store fronts for the majority of their revenues. This partnership with Foursquare shows the importance that bricks and mortar still plays in today’s digital economy. However, I believe that Foursquare will now start to develop a GetGlue-type solution by offering consumers the ability to virtually check in. Why? in 2010, e-commerce accounted for $15.3 billion in sales in Canada. And it’s growing.
Related Story: Location-based marketing poised for mass adoption

For Canada the question is when will we see this initiative north of the 49th? Don’t hold your breath. The Amex initiative is still not available in Canada after two years. So the chances of Foursquare opening up this program anytime soon in Canada is unlikely.


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Karim Kanji
Karim Kanji
Karim Kanji is the Canadian Director of Social Media Strategy at iNvolved Media. iNvolved Media was purchased by Active International in 2015. Clients include popular food brands, technology brands and other CPG companies. Prior to joining iNvolved Media, Karim led the paid social media strategy for some of Canada's most popular CPG and confectionery brands for Catalyst/GroupM. Karim started in the social media space when he co-founded and was the President of THIRDOCEAN where he led the creation of digital content for companies including Scotiabank, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Microsoft, Wild Water Kingdom, Palomino Systems Inc. and Techvibes. Karim has also been recognized as a pioneer in podcasting having interviewed people such as such as federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, former MLSE boss Richard Peddie, TVO's Steve Paikin, Canadian serial angel investor Dr. Boris Wertz, HootSuite founder Ryan Holmes, Mathew Ingram, Mitch Joel from Mirium and many, many others. As a demonstration of thought leadership, Karim led the development and execution of reports discussing how technology and digital media have impacted industries such as retail, education, health, gaming, sports and banking.

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