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In a deal designed to fuel innovation at First Data, the payments powerhouse has acquired mobile marketing and loyalty start-up Perka for an undisclosed amount. First Data plans to let Perka continue to operate autonomously and service as an “agile product development company led by original management.” This year, Fast Company magazine anointed Perka as one of the “Most Innovative Companies” in local.

Founded with angel money in 2011, Perka is led by CEO Alan Chung and founding partners Robert Bethge, Rob Coury, Jay Harlow and Joe Stelmach. The company offers loyalty programs for local businesses in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Africa and Latin American. Perka has 28 employees.

Perka made a name for itself for innovative thinking around the burgeoning loyalty space. For example, last December we wrote about how Perka was tacking the issue of adapting the buy 10, get one punchcard model to highly variable purchases.

The convergence of payments, loyalty and mobility is clearly on the minds of First Data’s leadership. The company is a world leader in payment processing, handling payments daily for more than 6 million merchant locations. First Data hopes to remain a key player in payments as the space expands further into mobile and tablet based payment processing. First Data made progress in this direction with its recent launch of Clover, a cloud-based point of sale (POS) solution.

In September, First Data SVP Dom Morea spoke at length about how First Data sees the evolution of loyalty at BIA/Kelsey’s SMB Digital Marketing event in Austin. The Perka acquisition, and perhaps more critically the team that comes with it, should help First Data remain at the forefront of the rapidly changing payments space.

First Data Senior VP Dom Morea talked about the future of transaction marketing at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local: SMB Digital Marketing event in Austin, TX.


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