Poste Italiane, the Italian postal service, is one of the country’s oldest and biggest organizations with a role that extends well beyond mail and package delivery. Today, Poste Italiane is not just mail delivery but an online marketplace. The Poste Italiane website offers financial products, logistics and insurance services as well as online payments to facilitate integrated communications throughout Italy. With 158 years of history, a network of more than 12,800 post offices, a workforce of 126,000, total financial assets of €536 billion and 35 million customers, Poste Italiane is at the center of Italian commerce.
As the center of commerce and online transactions, Poste Italiane wanted to support the companies within its ecosystem with customer acquisition and retention. Poste Italiane also wanted to encourage customers to engage with its merchant partners and follow their recommendations or accept offers through them.
Poste Italiane began working with the loyalty programs in 2017 when, in partnership with SIA, it created the Extra Sconti App that enables cost savings to debit card holders that also use Postepay cards. Instead of starting with a network of big shops, it created a platform called Sconti BancoPosta that initially served over 30 thousand small merchants and soon grew to other well-known brands.
What makes Poste Italiane’s platform stand out is the creation of a single point of access to multiple loyalty schemes and formation of a loyalty point exchange. It is common for customers to log into an airline miles/rewards account only to see they’re 100 miles shy of a travel reward. The Poste Italiane solution lets customers combine points from different programs to reach the threshold required to purchase the rewards, making it a truly customer centric approach. When customers only accrue points with one merchant, the value of those points are limited.
To build this solution, Poste Italiane turned to blockchain technology, specifically, Hyperledger Besu. The system uses blockchain for digital wallets, tokens and smart contracts to deliver value for consumers and the retail partners in the system.
Customers can easily access their accounts and rewards, via a mobile app provided either by Poste Italiane or any of the partners and set up their account. After accepting the terms and conditions, a new wallet is generated. Whenever they want to use their rewards, they can create a voucher that combines points from various programs and is redeemable in the system. The collection of points is also digital – the user can generate a QRcode that represents their wallet address where the partner and merchants can transfer the points. While having a single platform makes it convenient for consumers, they can still use the designated apps from various merchants and use the Poste Italiane app to transfer their points and convert them into loyalty tokens on the platform.
Points, vouchers and any other assets that consumers collect through the partner programs in the Poste Italiane app get converted to loyalty tokens. This way, all are equal and can be moved seamlessly between partners. Thanks to smart contracts, it is possible to establish rules that allow the programmability of the tokens for the management of the entire network. Any transaction, be it earning points, exchanging them for tokens or purchasing a reward, happens through a smart contract. Using smart contracts makes the system much more trustworthy and transparent.
Hyperledger worked up with Poste Italians on a case study that details the vital role of loyalty programs in retail and how this solution works to create a differentiated experience for retail partners and consumers. Read the full case study here.