Q&A: Lee Clarke, CEO and Co-Founder, Bink
Retail Technology Innovation Hub: Tell us about yourself
Lee Clarke: I’m the co-founder of Bink; we’re a FinTech company wanting to make life simple and rewarding for all. We have removed the need for customers to carry and present plastic loyalty cards, paper coupons and membership IDs whilst never missing out on earning rewards again. Our unique Payment Linked Loyalty (PLL) technology transforms consumers’ payment cards into universal loyalty cards. This allows them to pay as normal with their debit or credit card and automatically collect loyalty points and rewards from their favourite retailers.
RTIH: What inspired you to set the company up?
LC: I was inspired to create Bink when I lost out on collecting points in Boots just because I’d forgotten my loyalty card that day. It occurred to me that it’s very rare for us to leave home without our payment cards, but loyalty cards are easily forgotten. So why not bring loyalty and payment together in a seamless environment? My long-term friend and business partner, Greg Gormley, and I saw an opportunity to revolutionise the loyalty industry, so consumers would always receive the rewards they deserve, and retailers could foster advanced relationships with their customers.
RTIH: What has been the industry reaction thus far?
LC: We’ve seen great appetite among retailers and payment card providers alike, to be part of a system which would allow them to come together in a way that has never been possible before. We’re incredibly proud to have already achieved partnerships with big name brands across a broad spectrum of industries, including Iceland, Morrisons, Harvey Nichols, River Island and the Arcadia Group, as well as the major payment card providers.
RTIH: What has been your biggest challenge/setback?
LC: From the start of our journey we knew that our success would be dependent on securing partnerships with big, household name brands. Getting these established companies to recognise a newcomer, such as Bink, could improve their offering was no easy feat, as they’ve successfully operated without us for many years. The key to overcoming this challenge was to excite them about our proposition to give loyalty a new lease of life that would empower them to better engage with their customers, and ultimately improve their bottom line.
RTIH: What are the biggest challenges facing multi-channel retailers right now?
LC: As retailers expand from having a solely physical presence on the High Street to having online stores, they widen their reach but decrease their ability to understand and engage with their customers through loyalty programmes. Traditional loyalty systems that require the physical presentation of a plastic card or paper coupon do not directly transfer to the online world, meaning the benefits they provide for the consumer and retailer are lost. A new, holistic approach to loyalty, which can be applied online and in-store is required. This would ensure multi-channel retailers can more accurately profile customers (rather than treating the online and in-store shopper as separate individuals) to better understand their wants and needs, and then provide them with personalised rewards that offer them true value. This is all tied together by simply linking the consumer loyalty ID to their payment cards.
RTIH: What's the best question about your company or the market asked of you recently by an investor
LC: While deliberating whether to join our journey, one of our investors asked why they would trust us with their money when there are so many other app-based startups on the market. The simple answer was this; Bink offers a unique platform solution to a real issue. 3.3 billion people are enrolled in loyalty schemes across the UK and US, meaning there’s great market potential that’s currently being missed. We’ve demonstrated to many of the UK’s biggest brands that we have the ability to bridge this gap, simply, through our Payment Linked Loyalty technology. Our proposition, and the needs of the market, have enabled us to engage globally, using the skill of our team to make this possible.
RTIH: And a customer?
LC: A customer recently asked us why they would download the Bink app when they already had so many apps on their phone, what makes us stand out? This highlighted the need for us to raise awareness of what we can offer and how we stand out. We’re not just another loyalty app, we act as an aggregator – meaning customers can interact with all their favourite brands in one place. We take all the hassle out of collecting loyalty points and redeeming rewards by transforming your payment card into a universal loyalty card. It’s really simple - Bink takes away the hassle for customers and retailers alike whilst adding significant value for both parties.
RTIH: What can we expect to see from your company over the next 12 months?
LC: We’ve recently expanded our operations into the US, and plan to continue increasing our global reach throughout 2018. In both new regions and the UK, we’ll focus on onboarding more high-profile retail partners, to provide their customers with enhanced loyalty experiences. To achieve this, we’ll be closing a £25 million funding round next year.