Credit card giant Visa has partnered with Gap to provide customers with a new loyalty program offering immediate discounts and savings at Gap clothing stores to Visa credit card holders. The program, dubbed "Gap Mobile 4U," has reportedly been in testing since late 2010, and represents the first of perhaps many new partnered discounts that Visa is anticipated to offer through a variety of retailers.
According to FastCompany.com, the new program is a win-win for everyone involved. Gap customers who sign up for the program and pay with Visa get special offers based on the items they purchase or how much they spend at Gap stores, offering all the benefits of the best rewards credit cards without the hassle - or a new card. These opt-in offers for Visa holders are sent via SMS text messaging to their cell phones. Redeeming them is as easy as showing the text message to a clerk as they make their next purchase.
Consumers benefit directly from the discounts. Gap benefits from the potential increase in sales, and thanks to the promotional spotlight they receive from these offers, there is very little expense for them. And Visa, the real winner, has the opportunity to learn more about credit card consumer demographics and to test what is considered a low-tech precursor to the Near Field Communications (NFC) payments system that Visa is already experimenting with on a trial basis in Europe.
NFC allows customers to pay using their smart phones at properly equipped retailers, banks and restaurants - the inevitable marriage of credit cards and smart phone technology that is imminent in the next few years.
Based on zip codes and previous purchases, this pilot program is expected to ramp up interest in both Gap and Visa, and may pave the way for future Visa partnerships with other retailers to offer similar opt-in deals.