Did you ever get angry with the number of loyalty cards from various shops or restaurants that keep crowding your wallet? So did the founders of ZenCard, a Polish startup that has recently become a part of PKO Bank Polski. Their product lets you use your regular credit card to collect points within loyalty programs, not wasting your precious wallet space or time needed to open the discount app on your phone.

The idea of ZenCard was born in 2013 when the startup’s founders observed a boom in the contactless payments technology. They also noticed that the regular loyalty programs were expensive for companies and inconvenient for clients. Connecting the two allowed them to create a unique, innovative solution that has a chance to become a new market standard. Krzysztof Klimczak, the current CEO of ZenCard, has brought in his banking know-how – he has previously worked, among others, in Toyota Bank. Jarosław Sygitowicz and Marek Rogoziński, the other two founders, used their vast IT experience to create the desired product.

ZenCard proposes many different types of loyalty programs and gives the retailers multiple customizing options. The simplest program is a one-time discount, included automatically upon payment. Other ones take into account, for example, the number of visits to the shop (exactly like collecting stamps) or the total amount of money spent in the shop so far.

The main competitive advantage of ZenCard, apart from the convenience of use, is operating in real time. The system gathers client’s data regarding his purchases at the spot, allowing for instantaneous discounts or personalized offers. Moreover, this system that bases on virtual loyalty cards is much more economical for the companies.

One of the most important issues – client’s sensitive data and its protection – has been tackled thoroughly. Not only does ZenCard comply with all existing regulations, it is actually safer than the regular loyalty programs, as it does not store the customer’s personal data. The only information it is interested in is his phone number (to inform about new discounts) and gender. The system only accesses the history of customer’s purchases at the moment of the transaction to verify what discounts he is entitled to.

In January 2017, PKO Bank Polski bought 100% of ZenCard’s shares. This way, the startup has gained access to almost half of payment terminals in Poland and is able to expand nationwide. Still, the ZenCard team remains intact, working on developing their solution in an agile way. One of their current projects is entering the e-commerce market, for instance in UK and Ireland, where online shopping is responsible for 16% of all purchases. They also begin to export their solution to other countries, selling their license in Italy or the Netherlands.