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Mobile local loyalty play Punchcard announced that after less than a year, it has rounded the corner on 147,000 merchants in Southern California. Founded and led by local veteran Andy Steuer, the company recognizes the challenges in reaching time-starved SMBs.

We caught up recently with Steuer, who emphasizes the simplicity and loyalty-generating aspects of the product. The latter is built on the premise that 15 percent of customers generate about 60 percent of merchant revenues on average.

While everyone else seems to focus on customer acquisition, this loyalty play is being employed at a few other companies such as Fanminder and Closely. The aptly named Punchcard’s unique angle is explained well in the press release (I know, rare):

The process for achieving rewards is simple: Download the Punchcard app, called “Punchcard – Official” in the App Store and Android Market, and after visiting a business, simply take a photo of the receipt at the point of purchase after which Punchcard will verify your purchase so you can earn “punches” at the places you love to shop. After completing a punchcard at any business, the Punchcard user is entitled to a reward – in most cases, it’s cash back, but it can also be a free meal, free clothing, free haircut, or a gift card. The Punchcard app replaces the stacks of individual loyalty cards people have been expected to carry in their wallet and have available at the time of purchase.

We also recently wrote about the Idealab-backed company here, and we’ll continue to watch it as it navigates the challenging but opportune local space. You can download the iOS app for free here.

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