Since the first loyalty program was introduced in the 1980s, technological innovation has changed the possibilities for such programs considerably. One significant change is the emergence of mobile and online platforms that started to deploy loyalty schemes aiming at both sides of the market, namely customers and third parties such as retailers or merchants. One consequence is the expansion of the roles of loyalty measures to the point of introducing a Virtual Currency. More than plain loyalty points, Virtual Currency is a tool to support multiple usage options granted to different types of users and utilizations. Based on the analysis of four case studies, this paper examines the business conditions and consequences of the implementation of a Virtual Currency by mobile and online platforms. One consistent element throughout all examples is the aspect of rewarding customers for desired user actions. Beyond this, the objectives of implementing a Virtual Currency go from strengthening loyalty to opening new revenue streams. The paper contributes to gain insights of how loyalty measures and rewarding schemes can be transformed and expanded to Virtual currency programs and how respective strategies can impact platforms’ business models and hence performance in the market.
Buchinger, Uschi; Ranaivoson, Heritiana; and Ballon, Pieter, "From Loyalty Points to Virtual Currencies: Expanding Loyalty Schemes for Mobile Platforms" (2013). 2013 International Conference on Mobile Business. 9.