Bling Nation 'pauses' to rethink business model

Bling Nation 'pauses' to rethink business model

US mobile payments firm Bling Nation has "paused" its operations while it tries to fix a business model that has failed to appeal to merchants, according to American Banker.

Bling provides users with NFC stickers that can be attached to mobile phones and used to make contactless payments at the point of sale.

The firm has raised over $30 million in funding rounds and had early success, signing up several small community banks to its service by offering them an alternative to the big card networks and promoting the benefits to merchants of 'hyperlocal' neighbourhood programmes.

However, it lost its way with the introduction late last year of FanConnect, a social media-heavy loyalty programme that was compulsory for Bling's bank and merchant partners.

Brad Rose, VP, IT security at State Bank in La Junta, told American Banker that it stopped issuing Bling stickers after merchants, faced with accepting FanConnect or ditching the service entirely, chose the latter.

Accepting that its model is failing, Bling has decided to cease operations while it tries to fix things, general manager Matthew Murphy told American Banker.

The decision to shut down at a time when mobile contactless payments is gathering momentum in the US, notably through Google's recently unveiled plans, could prove costly though, with Bling left behind bigger rivals.

Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 13 June, 2011, 11:41Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Bling Nation's flat 0.5% interchange fees really seemed like a strong value proposition for American merchants who are protesting the 1-3% charged by the leading card networks. Like ISIS, Bling Nation offered merchants a viable alternative to Visa/MasterCard networks. By rebuffing both of them, US merchants do appear to want to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to their relationship with big card networks, as I'd posted recently on Finextra.

Looks like I was not the only one who found it strange to be taken to BlingNation's Facebook page to download the FanConnect app upon typing on the browser. Hope its ill-fated dalliance with social media doesn't put a dampener upon the social media plans of banks and financial services institutions.