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Marqeta raises $14M to bring ‘Starbucks-type loyalty to every merchant’

Marqeta 1Loyalty and payments startup Marqeta has raised $14 million and announced that it will power the Facebook Card.

Marqeta blurs the lines between online and offline commerce with its “pay in advance” approach. Consumers make their purchases online through the platform, and Marqeta sends them a free card to swipe when picking up their purchase. Retailers use the platform to offer perks like gifting, loyalty, promotions, cash back offers, charitable donations, and so on. Customers earn rewards as they use their card and Marqeta keeps tracks of all that information in one place. This system saves consumers money and offers retailers a channel for loyalty and marketing campaigns.

Marqeta BlueCard“Consumers are challenged with managing multitudes of offers, gift cards, and reward programs along with a lack of meaningful incentive to provide repeat business,” said Jason Gardner, the founder and CEO of Marqeta in an interview. “Retailers struggle to crack the code to easily capture customer loyalty and often need POS installation to run a rewards program, and enterprises are often unable to readily participate in relevant transactions within the payments stream, limiting their opportunities to optimize revenue. Marqeta makes the successful ‘pay-in-advance for your coffee’ Starbucks card model possible for everyone.”

The system works without any new software of hardware at the point-of-sale and requires no cashier training. Through the API and platform, merchants can customize their campaigns with different product uses and features. It is available at nine million locations on the Discover network.

Marqeta also announced today that its +M platform will drive Facebook’s gifting product Cards. Cards are like regular gift cards but work at a range of retailers like Jamba Juice, Olive Garden, Sephora, and Target. The cards can be reloaded and the balance checked from Facebook.

“Gifting is a very unique form of e-commerce, and we thought there was a lot more innovation that could be going on there,” said Gifts creator Lee Linden in a recent interview with VentureBeat.

Marqeta claimed in a statement issued this morning that the gift card space is worth $115 billion, but that merchants face significant challenges maintaining consumer relationships once the gift cards are issued. By requiring users to register on Marqeta, retailers can convert their loyalty campaigns into a “true marketing and engagement engine.”

This funding will go towards forming new national partnerships, “aggressively” expand its footprint, and contribute to product development. Existing investors Greylock IL and Granite Ventures participated in this round, along with new investor Commerce Ventures. Marqeta was founded in 2010 and has raised $22 million to date. The company has 37 employees and is based in Emeryville, Calif.