Stocard App is the Simple Way to Stay Loyal

By David Knight |

Most students, faced with a holiday in Australia, would probably spend their time drinking beer on the beach and avoiding anything related to work. For two Germans studying in Mannheim, however, a trip Down Under inspired an idea which has already taken off while they are still at university.

David Handlos and Björn Goß have now been joined by another student, Florian Barth, and all three are now desperate to finish their studies so they can focus full time on Stocard – a simple free app which enables users to keep all their loyalty card data on their phones.

You just select what kind of card it is – choosing from a preset list or, for less common ones, entering it manually – and input the relevant data, such as membership number. The app creates a barcode which enables your phone to be scanned in place of the card in shops, at the airport or anywhere else you want to pick up loyalty points.

The app has racked up more than 110,000 downloads in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and claims to have replaced more than 500,000 cards. The loyalty cards listed in the app include ADAC, Air Berlin, Boots, British Airways Executive Club, Globetrotter, Ikea and even Harrods.

Minimalist Design

Simplicity is the key – the app won’t be winning any awards for its minimalist design – but as a Brit would say, it’s Ronseal: It does exactly what is says on the tin.

David told Silicon Allee how the idea came about: “Loyalty cards annoyed me. I didn’t really use them because they were so inconvenient. So I convinced Björn that this idea I had was reasonable, and with him being a programmer we decided to start pretty much right after the trip to Australia.”

There was plenty of positive feedback on the prototype and so Florian joined the founders to help accelerate the project. But things did not go perfectly after the launch in June 2011 with David admitting that the trio did not know much about startups or putting the app out there.

That led to David and Björn signing up to do a one-year Masters course at the London School of Economics (Florian is currently finish his PhD at the University of Mannheim). Timing is everything, however, and shortly thereafter, the app took off.

Now they’re working on Stocard part time until they finish their course this summer.

The Stocard team

David added: “We became better at getting the app out there and so we ended up getting quite a lot of downloads. Apparently Apple like the ease of use that we have with our app, and they nominated us as one of the best apps of 2011, which we were really surprised by – they didn’t tell us, we just went to the app store and saw it there. It was pretty cool.”

The service has been growing ever since, currently ranked 64th in the App Store in Germany – and now it’s going international with today’s launch in the UK and Ireland. It works because in the terms of use of most loyalty schemes, it stipulates that customers don’t need to produce the actual card but rather only the membership number. “And so we thought,” said David, “that it would be a lot easier to have that number saved somewhere, so you didn’t always have to have the card with you physically; you can just do it digitally.”

This in turn means Stocard didn’t need to undergo any integration with retailers, keeping the process that much easier. And making things easier is the whole point, according to David.

“With Stocard, you don’t have to carry around any of your plastic cards any more. You can save probably a third of your wallet size that way.”

The app can obviously not deal with cards that have a payment or identification function such as the Bahncard in Germany or the Oyster card in London. But with the trio of co-founders all set to go full time on Stocard in the summer – with further international expansion and co-operation with retailers high on the to-do list – you can expect functionality to be improved soon.

And if they ever find themselves lacking inspiration they know a quick business trip to an Australian trip should help spark it…