CardStar is today announcing integration with popular location-based service Foursquare in its newly updated iPhone application, CardStar 3.0. Now, as CardStar users present their mobile phones to merchants for scanning, they can also be automatically "checked in" to that business on Foursquare.Mobile loyalty card application
The CardStar mobile application, which offers a network of over 2,000 merchants, has been downloaded 1.5 million times, according to its CEO, Andy Miller. Over 600,000 "active uniques" now use the CardStar app in 160 countries worldwide.
The potential market for Foursquare just got a whole lot larger.
CardStar is Check In
CardStar, for those unaware, is one of the top mobile loyalty card applications on the market. It's designed to replace the numerous loyalty and rewards cards that dangle from keychains with a single mobile application that stores the card information and presents a user's account number as a barcode which can be shown to a merchant and scanned directly from the screen.
The Foursquare integration is not the only new feature in the updated version of the CardStar application, but it is, perhaps, the most notable one.
With hundreds of thousands of regular users who launch this mobile application each and every time they visit select businesses, "CardStar is check-in," explains Miller.
There aren't any game mechanics involved, there is no cheating and no "faking it," - when CardStar users present their mobile application to a merchant, they're physically there. And they're not using the app to win a badge or become "mayor" (the rewards doled out to regular users of the mobile check-in app Foursquare), they're using CardStar simply because it's convenient to do so.
CardStar has "real users with real loyalty," Miller says. And a lot of them, it seems.
Using Foursquare's open API, CardStar was able to integrate the service into its app. For locations CardStar users designate as "Favorites," the Foursquare check-in can be automatic. As you checkout at your favorite grocery store, for example, or check in for your daily workout at the gym, you're simultaneously announcing to Foursquare that you're there.
One thing CardStar users will miss out on, however, are any exclusive deals offered to Foursquare users, like the discounts and mobile coupons offered at check-in. This is because CardStar is simply integrating the API - it has not actually partnered with the company at this time.
But a partnership makes sense, Miller acknowledges. He hints that he would even be open to more than that, like an acquisition, for instance. And why not? Foursquare today is trying to start from scratch, encouraging loyalty among its users by having businesses sign up with the service to offer rewards, discounts and other incentives to those using the location-based service. With CardStar, its users are already loyal to particular businesses, they're just not "checking in" in the same way that Foursquare users do.
Future Plans: Merchant Offers, iPad App, Carrier Deal
On the back-end, CardStar is sitting on a goldmine of data. Though anonymous, the company has identified sixteen different user profiles that include various personality types like "soccer mom," "traveler," "early adopter," "entertainment fan," and others. The profiles may overlap for some, but each segment could be exclusively targeted in the future with offers designed just for them.
In the following version of the iPhone app, businesses will be able to reach these groups through a self-serve portal where they can create and manage their offers. The portal is in testing now with a few small businesses, but should begin its public rollout next month.
Around the same time, the company will also launch its iPad application, an app which can best be described as the digital counterpart to the Sunday circular. In the iPad app, users will "clip" coupons which then sync to the smartphone application. (CardStar is available on the iPhone, Android and Blackberry).
Also in the works is a carrier deal in which CardStar will serve both as the backbone for an exclusive mobile wallet/loyalty card/shopping platform, and well as a customer-facing branded application within the carrier's offering.
With today's launch of the updated iPhone application, there's also support for iOS 4, added information regarding
the location details for businesses (including maps and merchant Web links) (update: this feature ended up not making the release), and a new backup service which syncs card information across devices. The sync feature called "CardStar Connect," is made possible via an anonymous user ID, so as to protect CardStar's users' privacy.
The updated application will be available from iTunes here shortly.