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‘Super App as a Service’ Enables BNPL, Universal Rewards Redemptions, Including Crypto

“People are ready to switch their rewards to crypto,” novae CEO Sergio Arana told PYMNTS. With the help of Visa and a sweeping new rewards program, the company’s “Super App as a Service” platform will bring crypto transactions and buy now, pay later (BNPL) payments into the same stable as stalwarts like credit and debit cards for issuers to make available to their customers.

As additional financial products come to market, Arana said that consumers want to be able to access them from the same app.

“This is an opportunity for banks and potentially airlines around the world to really tap into this digital asset,” he said. “[Miles Blue, novea’s super app platform] gives users the opportunity to switch rewards, to ‘flip them’ when they want, giving them new venues to generate rewards — because at the end of the day, the increased value of the crypto will be an additional earn for the users.”

PYMNTS’ own research backs up that claim, showing that 18% of consumers in the U.S. are likely to make a purchase using digital currencies.

Read also: PYMNTS BitPay Study: How Consumers Want to Use Crypto to Shop and Pay in 2021 and After

Miles Blue also enables BNPL options at the point of sale for participating issuers to make available to their customers.

The conversation came against the backdrop of novae’s launch of Miles Blue, which is described as a way for credit and debit cardholders to turn any digital asset — including cryptocurrency — into a secure way to pay across tens of millions of merchants globally. This Super App as a Service offering will enable issuers to allow their customers to turn the points and rewards that used to accrue in their accounts and digital wallets into spendable currency anywhere Visa is accepted.

Arana, along with novae board member Rodrigo McCarthy; Visa’s Eduardo Coello, regional president, Latin America and the Caribbean; and Terry Angelos, Visa’s global head of FinTech, told Karen Webster just how far the evolution of loyalty and redemption models had come from the days of opaque credit card statements, conversion tables and point systems that required a calculator to use.

Coello, who helped launch WhatsApp Pay in Brazil, said consumers had reset their sights on what’s expected — and what’s not — when it comes to apps.

“Those days when you were accepting certain experiences in one industry and not having the same expectation in the others — well, those days are over now,” he said. One-click rules the day, and seamless transactions are not just expected, they’re demanded.

That’s in part, Arana said, because people just became more digital over the last 18 months — and in part, because people just started to pick up habits they previously didn’t have.

In short, there is a move away from the great unbundling of finance and FinTechs — and toward an ecosystem where a continuum of services and offerings has become a key strategic advantage. As additional financial products come to market, Arana said consumers would want to access them from the same app.

McCarthy said that enabling installment payments as part of its platform months ago is a further proof point. He pointed out that novae has already seen 31% of consumers doing transactions that combine points and installments for payment.

“If installment payments are becoming the norm, consumers ask ‘why isn’t that part of my primary banking relationship or part of my super app? Why do I get that in a separate app?’ ” Angelos said.

New Consumer Habits Demand New Response

Visa’s Angelos noted that investors pour as much as $105 billion annually into the FinTech ecosystem, which dwarfs the IT budgets of the biggest banks in the country. Banks need help finding the right partners to enable them to make their digital banking experiences on par with where many of the FinTechs have already staked a claim. Visa cardholders, he said, will have a better experience using novae’s super-app platform, Miles Blue, than they might have with just a standalone bank app.

The market opportunity is there, as roughly 80% of cardholders do not participate in bank rewards programs — and thus, the greenfield potential is significant for issuers, digital-first firms and merchants (in other words, the commerce ecosystem at large) to think differently about extending the definition of “spendable currencies” to consumers.

Easier said than done, as McCarthy noted that consumers sometimes find it harder and harder to make good use out of those points — at least as they’re offered and redeemed through traditional conduits.

“We were already thinking about universal redemption,” he said, reflecting on the FinTech’s fast-tracking of the Miles Blue predecessor, the Miles platform, which launched in 2020. The “tremendous” adoption and acceptance in the marketplace was a real-time proof point that adding more digital assets to the redemption platform would only increase interest among consumers, and therefore issuers.

In terms of mechanics, McCarthy said that Miles Blue enables consumers to automatically get rewards for each transaction they make, incorporating those rewards into everyday spending behaviors. Issuer banks can access the program at no cost, with the option to transfer existing reward balances from other card products onto the platform. Those same issuers can issue virtual or tokenized cards for digital wallets that feature dynamic spending control and real-time transaction authorization.

Said Coello: “At the end of the day, the customer is looking to have relevant offers presented to them — and want to feel that experience is tailor-made for that moment.”

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