Score one for the open-source future: The CardLinx Association (“CardLinx”) today announced the availability of a new open source card-linking software suite developed by Microsoft, one of its founding members. The release with API access to leading payment networks will potentially open the door for smaller retailers to offer loyalty programs - and may even affect the business model for other companies in the card-linking space.
Microsoft has made the codebase for its Earn card-linking platform free and publicly available under the MIT License so that other companies can build on the code and expand the availability of card-linking. The software demonstrates API access to the leading payment networks and is available for download from the CardLinx website.
Card-linking enables consumers to receive a discount or loyalty benefit automatically when they pay with a payment card that has been linked to an offer or loyalty program. Leading card issuers, retailers, messaging apps and other digital publishers provide card-linked offers through mobile apps and loyalty programs. CardLinx members include Microsoft, Facebook, Mastercard, Discover, Hilton, Chevron, Shop Your Way, Whole Foods Markets, First Data, FIS, Samsung Card, Rakuten and many others. Money quote from Silvio Tavares, President and CEO of CardLinx:
"Microsoft's contribution of its software code to the public domain enables any bank or digital publisher to rapidly launch a card-linked program. While users will still need to apply directly to the payment networks and processors for card-linked data access, this code provides a great way to get started and greatly reduces the time to market. We continue to be impressed by Microsoft's leadership and thank them for their commitment to card-linking with this contribution."
The open source codebase is provided as-is for companies interested in implementing card-linking programs by providing an industry standard as a starting reference point and enabling them to further develop this code for their specific use. The goal of this open source code is to lower the barrier of entry and broaden the adoption of card-linking.
This release is welcome news for retailers interested in providing card-linked offers and loyalty programs to their customers. What it means for the broader group of companies offering card-linking platforms and services, however, remains to be seen. For CardLinx, the move follows on their summer 2016 research revealing that 50 percent of merchants, payment companies, publishers and card-linked technology companies responding to a survey reported a 50 percent growth in card-linking transactions over the previous 12 months. CardLinx estimates that card-linking has the potential to become a $10 billion industry.