Visa has updated Visa Offers, a rewards scheme that helps retailers and merchants offer exclusive discounts to Visa cardholders at the point-of-sale, with instant discounts, real-time analytics and support for third-party offer programs today.

The idea is to remove the need both for physical rewards cards and purpose-built smartphone apps by tying the rewards scheme to the consumer’s existing credit or debit card. Visa cardholders are able to earn points whenever they shop, as well as redeem special offers when they get to the checkout provided they use an activated card.

Visa manages the offers and merchant payments through its VisaNet payment processing network. The new features added today include fully customizable offers via email, mobile or the Web. It’s a novel feature that adopts many of the location-based offers and ideas pioneered by Foursquare. Retailers that have opted in to the program can now send out a personalized text message or email, offering exclusive discounts or rewards, whenever a registered customer is nearby.

Data is everything

Retailers can now also request data reports and live analytics to measure how often a cardholder is taking advantage of a deal or redeeming their accrued points. Merchants should be able to use this information to calculate, in real-time, whether certain offers are working or need specific adjustments.

Visa Offers is also touting what it describes as “consumer loyalty qualification,” which allows retailers to use real-time messaging in order to “identify and uniquely reward” loyal customers. It’s unclear exactly how this will operate; the feature suggests some form of instant messaging client that enables immediate feedback and communication from both the retailer and consumer.

Visa Offers also allows consumes to redeem offers and rewards at the checkout in real-time. It means consumers can take advantage of an in-store discount and see the result in their account balance without waiting for their next statement.

Attracting third-party support

The platform can now also support third-party offer programs, as well as those developed in partnership with Visa, to drive transactions and also provide a more seamless experience at the checkout. Square and iZettle, we’re looking at you.

“Visa’s new real-time point-of-sale redemption platform is a great example of Visa’s ability to apply its processing and technology expertise to simplify the use of offers and discounts, bringing benefits to merchants, acquirers, issuers and consumers,” Jim McCarthy, Global Head of Products at Visa Inc said.

“This enhancement to Visa’s processing platform is emblematic of our strategy to facilitate our clients differentiating benefits for their customers at the point-of-sale.”

Image Credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images