French fintech startup Joko raises 1.6 million Euros to reinvent loyalty cards
Traditional and single-brand loyalty programs are no longer appropriate for the customized buying experience that millennials want. With most brands, it is necessary to have the loyalty card with you and to scan it when you pay. Already existing programs are not or only slightly customised, and the consumer accumulating points on each of his programs has little visibility on the benefits he gets. As a result of this disappointing experience, millennials are increasingly abandoning these historical programs.
Enter Joko, a French fintech startup founded in 2018 by CEO Xavier Starkloff, COO Nicolas Salat-Baroux and CTO Alexandre Hollocou, who had a shared aim to reinvent loyalty cards by integrating them into credit or debit cards. Joko invents a simple and universal loyalty program using credit cards.
Today, Joko announced it has raised €1.6 million t0 recruit more developers and data scientists to its team. Backers include top-tier investors: Partech, Axeleo Capital, Lafayette Plug and Play, and several angel investors from the sector. Joko is revolutionizing loyalty cards by offering a seamless, customized and centralized customer experience. Thanks to the mobile application (available on both iOS and Android), the credit card becomes the loyalty card.
After connecting the application to their bank through a secure interface, customers automatically accumulate reward points every time they use their usual credit card in dozens of big retailers such as McDonald’s, Uber, Starbucks, Zara and many more. When paying, there is nothing to scan, nothing to say, nothing to do: the user is automatically notified after their purchase and can check their points in the application. In one click, he can trade them for gift cards in several retailers or convert them into donations to charitable associations.
After a few months of beta, Joko has already been adopted by tens of thousands of people, with the user base doubling every month. Users have already earned tens of millions of points since the launch of the beta. Xavier Starkloff, CEO and co-founder, explains: “Our ambition with Joko is to build a strong brand, a product used by millions of people that retailers reward on a daily basis, by putting technology at the service of the user experience”.
“Our users are looking for a reward and loyalty experience that is simple, customised and gamified and that is what we have managed to create with Joko. It is thanks to this experience that we see a real impact on the frequency of purchases and the average basket of our users at the retailers available on the application. For example, with Monoprix, we have seen a 17% increase in expenses,” explains Nicolas Salat-Baroux, co-founder of Joko.
Then understanding, by observing the dynamics of their market and their competitive positioning. Joko has a very detailed understanding of millennials’ purchasing habits, thanks to the millions of euro transactions it processes daily. Joko enables brands to understand their positioning in relation to their market and competitors, on the basis of aggregated and anonymised statistics. Pieter Lammens, Director of Lafayette Plug and Play, explains: “As soon as Joko arrived in our 5th acceleration batch, we were immediately seduced by their vision and ability to execute. Today, as an investor, we are convinced that the Joko solution will have a major impact in the medium term for retailers in the recruitment and entertainment of millennials”.
The FinTech startup has already convinced several dozen partners, including leading retailers such as Printemps, Fnac and Franprix, as well as digital native brands like Birchbox, Heetch and Cityscoot, who have already trusted Joko to optimize their marketing expenses. “Joko is a high-potential lever for deploying customised drive-to-store devices (budget, targeting, dates, etc.); and encouraging the millennials users of the application to discover and shop in Printemps stores,” indicates Guillaume Jamin, CRM Acquisition and Loyalty Manager at Printemps.
The technology developed by Joko was made possible by the Payment Services Directive No. 2 (PSD2), the new European regulation that gives back to consumers the power over their banking data. “Joko’s team has the ambition to meet new consumer expectations by relying on the development of new technologies now made possible by the PSD2, and with an extremely strict respect of the use of data,” explains Alison Imbert, Investment Director at Partech. Thanks to the recent PSD2, consumers now have the possibility to give access to their banking data to third-party applications, through secure interfaces that banks are obliged to set up. Last year, Joko registered as a payment institution agent with the French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority (ACPR), the institution backed by the Banque de France that ensures the security of banks’ customers. Joko is the first mobile application in Europe to use the PSD2 to revolutionize the loyalty experience, and plans to expand internationally by 2020.
By financing itself with renowned investors, Joko has the means to accelerate the development of its solution. Using machine learning techniques, Joko has developed a transaction categorization and intelligent identification engine that is able to identify merchants with unprecedented accuracy. The funds raised will make it possible to recruit more developers and data scientists to join a team that already has, only one year after its creation, about fifteen people currently based at Station F, including former members of Criteo, Jumia (Rocket Internet) and Happn. “Joko’s founders natively understood that the key to their success lay in building a brilliant squad from day one. This path, not always easy for young startup founders, is the reason why they will succeed,” comments Lucas Mesquita, Investment Director at Axeleo Capital.