Banks Eat Into Groupon’s Business

Banks increasingly finding daily deals too big to pass up

One day after Groupon's disappointing Q2 earnings report, the daily deals row isn't getting any easier to hoe. For the second consecutive week, a major banking institution has rolled out a deals platform nationwide that’s designed to be easier to use than Groupon. Bank of America today announced BankAmeriDeals, offering discounts from partners Aeropostale, The Body Shop, FedEx Office, AutoZone, Redbox and the Atlanta Braves.

From the consumer’s standpoint, BoA's offering appears to be simple. BoA account holders can go online and opt into discounts from the retailers. When those users visit the merchant properties and use their debit/credit cards, they’ll automatically receive a discount—between 5 percent and 15 percent—in the form of cash back on their next monthly statement.

To enable the program, BoA has partnered with technology firm Cardlytics, which also works with banks PNC and Regions to offer similar merchants-based rewards. And other financial institutions, such as Ally Bank and American Express, have been launching programs similar to BoA's.

Rod Witmond, svp of marketing for Atlanta-based Cardlytics, addressed BoA's program. "They are able to bring the [deals] program to the consumers for offline and online stores they are already using frequently," he said. "And they are able to bring it through a card they are already using frequently."

Indeed, while Groupon and LivingSocial—the No. 2 player in the space—have given consumers paperless options via their mobile apps, buying the deal sellers’ vouchers still requires a step or two more than simply pulling out a card and swiping it. 

None of these moves seem to help Groupon, in particular. The Chicago-based company reported Monday that Q2 billings dropped 5 percent from Q1, sending its stock plummeting by more than 20 percent during this morning's public trading.  

Meanwhile, LivingSocial seems hell-bent on establishing secondary revenue channels to augment its deals sales. It launched a retail space in its hometown of Washington, D.C., in February and debuted a Shop channel that’s essentially a new e-commerce arm.

All told, the developments make the flash sales space look like a pretty tough deal.

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