A new rewards app from Sweden gets me excited

It does not happen often anymore that a new mobile app can get me excited. But now it did happen. The Swedish startup Wrapp has built what I think is the best offers/rewards shopping service I have seen so far.

Wrapp itself is not a totally new company. A couple of years ago the Stockholm-based startup released its first product, a social gifting app which subsequently was copied by the German company builder Rocket Internet. However, the concept never caught on with the masses. But instead of giving up, Wrapp took its remaining funds and built a new product. It recently has been released in closed beta, initially only for users in Sweden. I assume that more countries will follow, since the website is already available in English.

I signed up for the Beta a while ago and have now been testing the new Wrapp. And it is really cool.

Wrapp

Wrapp rewards users for purchases at selected retailers, restaurants or event locations. Not unlike the dozens of coupon and rewards apps that have come and go over the past years. The major difference to all of them (and even to the original daily deal/group buying concept made famous by the likes of Groupon or LivingSocial): As a user, you never need to take any action when making a purchase. No showing of a print out, a QR code, a loyalty card or any other type of proof that you are entitled to a discount is necessary. How is that possible? Wrapp provides its users with a MasterCard credit card at no cost, supplied by its partner Remember card. When you as a user purchase a product or service at one of the participating stores or retailers, Wrapp knows about it instantly and credits the discount amount to your balance.

To some people this probably does not sound very exciting. But a not too small group of consumers enjoys discounts and special offers. Maybe because of the actual savings, or only because of the Dopamin kick that happens when saving some bucks. You can put me into that latter category. However, I always hated having to reveal that I am scoring a deal at the point of sale. There is always some awkwardness involved when you ask for your restaurant cheque and at the same time pull out your phone showing them the amount they are supposed to discount. Also, sometimes the staff is not informed about the reward systems the store or restaurant manager has joined, so you end up in a weird discussion.

With Wrapp, all that awkwardness and inconvenience goes away. You simply pay what you are supposed to pay, and get the discount amount back to your credit card. Before signing up to Wrapp I was not aware how much I would value this reduction of friction. Now I am convinced that the winning loyalty and rewards services of the future must come with zero friction. If a loyalty/rewards system requires the consumer to take an additional action at the point of sale, I do not think it has a real chance.

The reduction of friction during the purchase comes with an increased friction during signup. If you want to use Wrapp, you also need to apply for a Remember credit card. The process for that is initiated directly from Wrapp’s app. The card is completely free if you do not utilize the credit and if you avoid using it abroad or for withdrawing cash. Also thanks to Sweden’s advanced e-government services, the contract can be signed with the nowadays ubiquitous digital signature BankID/Mobilt BankID. No paper work involved.

Nevertheless, having to apply for a new credit card is an obstacle. It is a (tiny bit of) additional work. Some users might not like the perceived burden of yet another credit card contract. Others might be rejected due to a bad payment history. Furthermore, making use of Wrapp means having to change a habit by switching to Wrapp’s credit card for daily purchases. The company seems to be aware of that though and tries to convince new users by promising a 50 SEK off for each of the first 5 purchases (with the signup code FB20ST – it is not a referral code, I do not get anything for mentioning this).

Possibly the biggest weakness of the current iteration is the need for an additional credit card. It makes total sense for the initial launch period. But if Wrapp should conclude that this concept is worth pursuing at a large scale, the company should try to partner with existing card companies/banks so users can connect their existing cards to Wrapp.

The app itself is still rather unspectacular and lacks advanced features. However, it does its job. And what’s really fun already is that after you have made a purchase at any store, you occasionally unlock additional offers. These come from companies that participate in Wrapp with the specific goal to woo consumers from competitors. It’s probably way too early for the companies or Wrapp to conclude whether this approach works, but as a user, this is what keeps me paying with the card even at stores or restaurants where the Wrapp app does not list any offers.

Concluding, I see a couple of obstacles, but also a lot of potential. For now I am as happy with the app as one can be considering the early stage. And that itself is quite a rare occurrence.

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