Card-linked loyalty seems an easy pitch. What could be simpler than linking your payment card to a store’s loyalty programme? Making money from the product is much harder. Loyalty Angels, the card-linked loyalty provider trading as Bink, was launched with much fanfare in 2015 but has struggled to make a commercial return over its eight year life.
Despite close partnerships with both Barclays and Lloyds, Bink lost £11.8m in the year to August 2022 according to accounts filed at UK Companies House. Following a similar deficit the previous year, accumulated losses now stand at £67.5m. Turnover was not disclosed.
Bink, said to be valued at £100m in 2017, needs a continued injection of new funds to keep trading and directors must have been very relieved to raise £8.4m in March 2023. This is said to be sufficient for a further 12 months. Nevertheless, Bink, based in Berkshire and employing 85 staff, needs to generate profitable revenues at some stage to justify the faith of its deep-pocketed backers, reported to be its two main customers – Barclays and Lloyds.
It’s easy to see why the two banks have an interest in supporting Bink. The product is included in both banks’ mobile apps and Bink’s ability to connect brands with millions of Barclays and Lloyds cardholders is its unique selling point. Here’s an explanation of how the Barclays loyalty product works. While the customer benefits are clear, the feature is buried deep in the mobile app menu and it’s hard to see millions of cardholders signing up for the service without a major marketing push.
Also included in Bink’s annual results was news that management has written off the entirety of its investment in MyGravity, a Crowdcube-backed loyalty app, which was acquired in 2017 for £3.5m in shares.
Bink’s financial challenges contrast with Reward, its main UK competitor, which made an operating profit of £2.6m on turnover of £43m in its 2021/22 financial year. Reward’s service is bundled with Virgin Money, American Express and Barclaycard.