One to Many Affinity Program – Well, Why Not?

by Patricia Hewitt 0

By Patricia Hewitt, Director, Mercator’s Debit AdvisoryService

This fall, the announcement of the new Delta/MasterCarddebit affinity program being offered to issuers around the countryhad my phone ringing off the hook.Had anyone heard of this type ofalliance before?Well, as one of my colleague’s pointed out – inCanada they have an Air Miles program that is offered by multipleissuers, so it’s not completely unheard of anywhere.But in theUnited States, affinity programs have always been tied to oneissuer, so why this new strategy?

I can think of a few reasons including building networkmarket share, leveraging consumer interest in debit, expandingretailer’s brand equity, and offering debit power users anotherreason to pull out their card.The one component I am especiallyinterested in however, is how issuers are going to differentiatethemselves since, by definition, that’s what affinity programspromise.The lack of details coming out of either MasterCard orDelta indicates that the program could have some flexibility builtinto it.One also has to consider that the SunTrust/Delta debit cardmay have actually been a pilot for the program and if so, kudos tothem.

The debit market needs nothing more than innovativethinking right now, so I say – go for it!We’ll all bewatching.