What Are Deals Worth? Bync Knows
The coupon site Bync launched yesterday. It’s yet another deals site, but this one has some nice smarts behind it. It raises a big question, though: Will users give the company what it wants, in order to get the deals they want?
Bync’s special power is that it only sends you coupons from the companies you already do business with. And they’re good coupons, too. I tested the service and saw a 20% off coupon for the Amazon site Shoes.com, and a 50% off offer for an iTunes gift card.
How did Bync know that I shopped at Amazon and Apple? Here’s the catch: It knows because it connects to your credit card or bank account to track your transactions. And to connect to those accounts, you have to give it your banking passwords.
Bync, like many other financial services, uses the established and so-far safe Yodlee for financial data, so it’s not like you’re handing over your bank data to a nobody. But even so, and even knowing this, I came to a screeching halt when I started using this system and it asked for my bank login data.
Shouldn’t there be another way? Bync CEO Ryan Bales says he wishes there was, and that the credit card companies have been talking about a protected login system for bank data (kind of like OAuth), although they haven’t delivered on it. But then, Bales told me, “Mint had the large hurdle.” Since that service made people comfortable with giving up their financial login data, it’s become much easier for new financial sites, like Bync, to get users. Bales says he has not seen a lot of abandonment during the sign-up process (although, when I talked to him, the site had been public for only five hours, so stats from non-early adopters aren’t available).
Bales also notes that people give out credit card numbers all the time (for example, at restaurants), although when doing so they don’t also give up their online passwords to those accounts. Ironically, with only a credit card number you can do a lot of direct financial damage; but Bync, even with numbers and associated passwords, only gets access to the names of stores you shop at.
Some large banks and credit card issuers already offer deals based on shopping behavior. Bync makes the same feature available to consumers directly, and eventually it will likely offer a white-label service to credit unions and smaller banks, keeping them competitive.
No matter how safe a site like this is, I am still amazed that people will give up such powerful financial keys just to save a few bucks. It shows you how much opportunity there is in the business of providing discounts.
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