Magazine article American Banker

SunTrust's New Mobile Rewards Strategy: Don't Dis Debit

Magazine article American Banker

SunTrust's New Mobile Rewards Strategy: Don't Dis Debit

Article excerpt

Byline: John Adams

Mobile wallets and digital payments apps are erasing the distinction between credit and debit, but many issuers still cling to old practices that treat those audiences differently. SunTrust is working to change that.

The Atlanta issuer's new "deals" feature, in which Cardlytics crawls through a user's purchase history to suggest cash-back offers from merchants they shop at frequently, does not discriminate between credit and debit card holders.

"We have a credit card suite that many clients take advantage of and many of them also have debit cards," said Carl Thibodeau, senior vice president of debit networks and emerging payments at SunTrust. "Our goal is to see more spending across all products."

Consumers access or redeem SunTrust Deals via SunTrust's mobile app. Once they complete a transaction using a credit or debit card, the offer is automatically credited to the client's account.

The mobile aspect of this rewards program is designed to help the bank in a couple of ways. Tying mobile offers to mobile banking opens up more data for analysis, making the offers more pinpointed. Also, SunTrust is trying to accommodate the growth of mobile commerce.

"This is where the clients are going so that is where we're meeting them," Thibodeau said. "Without mobile you don't get as broad an audience."

Offering financial perks to consumers has become more expensive, and the traditional loyalty program models aren't retaining consumers as well as in the past, partly because digital shopping has made it easier for consumers to jump from one merchant, or payment card, to another. …

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