RECASHER: the digitalization of loyalty programmes

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It was a very cold afternoon when I visited the Budapest office of RECASHER, a London based startup, with its development department situated at one of the most patinated part of the city, close to the Buda Castle. I did not know what to expect, given the fact that it was not a typical startup environment with slides and swings all around, but the atmosphere was still pleasant and welcoming. I was really looking forward to learning more about this group of people, because of the background of the individuals standing behind the project, and also, because of their successfully running equity crowdfunding campaign, the first one of its kind ever released for a startup founded by Hungarians to date. I finally had a very good conversation with the management of the company.

Can you please tell me about your background?

Our story originates from our personal experience in customer loyalty, and our frustrations re the current, typically card based point collection systems with cumbersome processes and irrelevant rewards. As we all experience daily, most loyalty schemes are pretty outdated and do not offer the right incentives. We wanted to offer something that is instant cash rewards instead of useless and ever forgotten points, something that is a lot easier to understand a lot easier to operate and something that offers great benefits for all participants. Recasher Technologies Ltd is a FinTech venture engaged in developing the 1st real time, real money cashback customer loyalty system called RECASHER.

What makes you different from your competitors? Who are your competitors at all?

There are so-called cashback providers in the online and the offline retail world, most of them providing consumers with points instead of real money cashback that can only be used for a limited number of goods or services, often overpriced.

Mainly in the UK there are real money cashback companies, working with an affiliate marketing cash-back approach, but only in the online segment. Their customers initiate online purchases through a web portal and earn cashback on their purchases. The cashback amount is credited on the portal’s account first, typically 45-60 days after the purchase happened. After that, the customer should request the money to be transferred to his/her own bank account. Moreover, a payout is only possible if the accumulated cashback exceeds a certain threshold.

On the whole it can be said, that there are some loyalty solutions with great promises, but technologically inferior systems and pretty shaky legal grounds. Some others just simply do not deliver on their promises.

In contrast to those approaches, we offer real money instant cashback, transferred right after the purchase directly from the merchant’s account to consumer’s account. Our service works in both, online and stationary retail as well.

How did you get the idea to start up? What did inspire you?

There were professional and personal reasons in the background to face this challenge. After working on financial IT solutions as an external team for the last 5 years there were several consequences to be drawn. It is clear, that even though the market demand is given, there is no comprehensive solution on the market for real-time cashback systems. Based on the gained insights and experience our team decided to start the own fintech project offering a solution in its complexity without the cutbacks of the common practice.

Besides the professional motivation to master this challenge, ultimately, we all are consumers as well. Let me put it this way: we are all definitely fed up with the numerous loyalty cards in our pockets and experience useless rewards, overpriced goods and restrictions every day.

So we decided to set up our services with easy to understand cash rewards, using the latest e-money technology available, in the most transparent way possible: let’s get back to the basics and offer real benefits to consumers as it is meant to be: no limitations, no delay, no useless goods, but real–time, real money cashback. That’s our challenge, that’s our goal.

How would you define yourself?

As mentioned earlier, we are a FinTech startup with a revolutionary loyalty solution that facilitates people to save money on their day-to-day purchases via a smartphone application. We are also an e-money based customer loyalty system, offering real time, real money cashback for the consumers, moreover, a highly efficient marketing tool for the merchants.

We really do respond to the changes in consumer expectations and the market situation. Over the years consumer expectations have changed, and the market is ready for a scalable and highly disruptive system offering true instant rewards to consumers and households, assuring effective ways to really save money while all parties benefit.

What makes you unique / different?

We provide a fully transparent, e-money based loyalty program operated in cooperation with licensed financial service institutions. Regulatory supervision by the respective authorities guarantees transparency and full compliance with the applicable statutory payment rules. The legal and technological setup makes us unique and revolutionary.

Why will consumers use your services?

Consumers can download the app free of charge. Instead of points – that can be swopped for overpriced goods, or remain entirely unused – our users receive real cash, while saving 4 to 6% of their purchase volumes. They do not need to carry multiple loyalty cards any more, but they can validate their cashback at all the merchants connected to us via their app. The collected cashback is instantly available upon purchases and it is immediately available to spend.

Also, consumers can get notifications about various promotions, coupons and benefits offered by the various merchants and services providers.

Why will merchants want to join your system?

Merchants can target our customers with spending pattern specific promotions that are way more efficient than general advertising. We help the retention of existing customers and attract new customers to the participating merchants, resulting in higher turnover for them.

Our payment function is another important selling point. It’s not only about cashback, but also a new payment-tool for online and offline retail alike. Our payments result in significant savings over card payment costs at the merchants as our payment fees are much lower than the banks’ traditional credit card terminal charges.

What were the biggest challenges in the beginning?

Finding the best people with the relevant experience was not an easy task. Defining the scope of the system was an important challenge and to shape the product itself was a key, too. We should not have started programming until the functional requirements were 100% defined, validated and agreed upon by all the external partner. This caused us certain amount of rework during the year.

How does the team look like?

Our team is our most important asset. We have a truly multinational and multi-disciplinary team, including finance and payment systems experts, IT and sales professionals.

Idea owner and team lead is Richard Hollmann, having over 2 decades of financial service industry experience and initiated previously also other innovative technology solutions in different fields.

Our CEO and project manager is Lajos Ludman, chairman at Cardnet Zrt., one of the biggest non-bank payment solutions providers in the CEE region and former partner at Deloitte in Budapest, Hungary.

Product development is led by me, Ferenc Décsi, an expert in retail banking, respectively card- and payment technology and online business solutions.

Bernhard Reiterer introduces his knowledge as chief payment specialist, focusing on e- and m-commerce approaches.

Besides of Bernhard also Volker Wainig operates from Austria, leading our sales operations with many years of international experience.

Our software development team is based in Budapest, the company itself is in London, and we work with freelance experts from the UK, Ireland and the US, supporting our product development all the way.

Have your raised money? How does your financial background look like?

So far, the project was entirely financed by our founders. We have recently initiated an equity crowdfunding campaign with SEEDRS in the UK, to provide an investment opportunity to the greater public in general and our potential partners particularly.

What is your goal to achieve?

As the next step: our core system is ready now, we shall complete and test the e-money integration in the next couple of months and launch the service in Austria and Germany in Q2-Q3 2017.

Our long term vision is to become the #1 cashback loyalty provider in Europe facilitating well over 1.0 billion Euro cashback payments to the users, with the sign up of 100,000 merchants and 10 million people across Europe in the next 5 years.