Dark Horse Part of Loyalty Program for New Credit Card “Payment Device”

Wow, this press release required some research. If I’m reading it all right, then Dynamics, Inc. is planning to introduce a “payment device” called ePlate that wants to be a sort of next-generation credit card. Instead of picking a card to pay with based on which points or miles or bonuses you want to earn, you carry this one device, and you can pick different applications/loyalty programs at the time of purchase by pressing a button on the device. The buttons change the data on the card’s magnetic stripe. There are only two buttons, but you can swap out which programs they represent by using software available through your online banking website or smartphone.

Dark Horse has signed up as one of the launch vendors, promising a program where purchases lead to digital comic pages. Buy enough, and your pages add up to an entire digital comic. After you collect a certain number of digital issues, you’ll be sent “exclusive physical copies”. Additionally,

Users will be able to earn comic books faster with purchases made at Dark Horse affiliates, sponsors, and retail outlets. At any time, a user can also decide to earn Dark Horse credits instead of exclusive content so that the user can earn any product from DarkHorse.com.

Other launch programs users can choose from include digital trading cards from Upper Deck (that can be collected and swapped for a physical collector card), social games, Toys for Tots donations, and other charity and social networking options.

This is all planning, not actual “you can buy it now” at this point — it remains to be seen if customers sign up for the experience (a big word in the publicity) or merchants will support it. It sounds a bit too complicated to me. Anything that promotes itself with this many buzzwords:

ground breaking in the way it links payment devices with unique content and experiences, empowering consumers to engage with brands of their choice

may have an uphill battle ahead of it living up to its promises. Also, since the coverage so far is business-oriented, there’s not a lot of information on how much information customers have to agree to share to get the promised rewards. I sense privacy concerns arising out of the greater amount of data promised to vendors. All this tracking and incentive purchasing makes me want to go back to cash.

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