Pocket Change is a universal loyalty currency that travels with you on the move. Started by two notable tech entrepreneurs, Ari Mir and Amos Elliston, the app revolutionizes the way consumers can collect loyalty points and brands can advertise their products.
Think American Express points, but earned across your mobile apps
Pocket Change works similarly to Amex points, the difference being you earn Pocket Change points in mobile apps. Let’s say you pull out your smartphone to make a dinner reservation for two. Pocket Change is embedded within the app and upon confirming your table reservation a little pop-up appears saying, “Hey! Congratulations, here are 15 points of Pocket Change.” Likewise, Pocket Change could be inside a game you are playing; upon reaching Level 10, the app could reward you with Pocket Change for your achievement. Loyalty points can be collected in a number of different ways across many different apps.
How does it all work?
“We have to be inside the app, meaning we have to have a relationship with the app that is awarding Pocket Change,” explains Co-Founder and CEO Ari Mir. “They install our SDK (Software Development Kit) and that allows them to start awarding Pocket Change to their users.”
Currently Pocket Change works with more than 500 apps across both Android and IOS platforms. Approximately 50 percent of those apps are games at the moment, however it also works with apps to help you manage your time, lose weight or learn Spanish for example. “Our value proposition to apps is really very straight forward. We want to make the users happy and if we make the users happy we think we can help with engagement and retention,” says Ari.
Before you begin receiving Pocket Change notifications, you have to have signed up for the loyalty scheme – you have to have opted in to the service. Once you have done this, you will begin receiving notifications when you have earned Pocket Change points. Once you have been rewarded with points you can then access the Pocket Change store and begin spending them.
Finding the balance between advertising and user engagement
“When the store loads there are lots of different things you can spend your Pocket Change on. This is where our business model really comes into play, where we feel we have created a really innovative advertising option. Some of those products in the store are sponsored by advertisers, for example Reebok has given us a $20 gift card at no cost, which we have put in our store,” says Ari. “In fact Reebok pays us every time a consumer buys a gift card.”
“If you look at the traditional mobile advertising landscape, all other advertising products out there interrupt the user experience. They make more money the more annoying they are. Pocket Change is different in a number of ways; first of all you don’t have to earn Pocket Change points, you opt in, and once you have opted in we award you points when you are happy inside an app. You then come to the store whenever you want, and look at things that interest you. You don’t have to spend your points either, you can say save them until you want to use them,” says Ari.
“Once you buy a product however, you are specifically saying you want to engage with that brand – you have self selected it, you have opted into that advertising space. That is where the value lies for the brands,” he says.
Pocket Change is a universal currency and your point balance is a collective balance across all of your apps. Every point you collect is worth a penny. By using your loyalty points collectively, you can buy things you actually want rather than waiting for three years to redeem a free coffee.
Where it all began
“Amos and I got together two years ago in Los Angeles. We had worked together years ago at another Internet company and we went our separate ways but reconnected two years ago knowing we really wanted to work together. We also knew we wanted to do something with mobile technology. Every day we would show up at this coffee shop and brainstorm ideas. Then eventually I’m getting coffee and he’s in line with me and the cashier goes “Would you like to sign up for a loyalty program?” And I said, “No, I don’t sign up for those.”
“Amos said, “Why, we are here every day, you should sign up.” And I said, “It’s not that I don’t like loyalty programs, I just don’t like signing up for all these different loyalty programs.” And that was the beginning, we started thinking it would be cool to have a universal loyalty program, something that travelled with you. The idea just snowballed from there,” says Ari.
The Company relocated to San Francisco and raised approximately $6.3 million through Google Ventures, First Round Capital and a number of notable Angels like David Sachs and Scott Banister. The rest, as they say, is history.
Where next for Pocket Change?
“With any currency, including Pocket Change, it is only as good as the ways you can earn and spend it so we want to be everywhere, we want to be inside every app and on every website,” says Ari.
The Company has ambitious plans for expansion and wants to give its users as many opportunities to earn and spend Pocket Change as possible.
Pocket Change has found its niche in the market and is hoping to expand within the mobile advertising space. “Every single advertising app to date has tied the advertising experience to earning the loyalty points, for example, you want X points you have to watch a trailer for this new movie or you have to sign up this product. We think that is a poor user experience; we are the first company to put the user experience first and to develop a loyalty currency where we make money only when you spend it,” he says.
“We are the first company in the mobile advertising space that has figured out how to drive meaningful conversions for advertisers. We have done it by putting the consumer first – by creating a user experience that is popular and useful.”
The Company has been rewarding Pocket Change for almost a year now, and already is has 20 million monthly active users. It has awarded pocket change to over 80 million people and that number is growing every day.