Since splitting from Wesfarmers two years ago, Flybuys has overhauled its technology to launch new payments and advertising products. The company is looking to add more brands to its program by moving into payments and developing its advertising product.

The transformation of the 25 year old company was driven by the organisational change, regulation, and the expectations of the loyalty program’s members, according to Flybuys CTO, Bradley Blyth.

The technology chief tells Which-50 the country’s leading loyalty program, with 9 million members, is betting on cloud computing for its scale and agility, as well as identity management for compliance and member experience.

“We’re 100 per cent in cloud now,” Blyth tells Which-50. “We don’t have any servers, we don’t even have a print server. The ambition for that, and what that’s enabled us to do is [to] really scale quickly.”

Flybuys CTO, Bradley Blyth.. Image: Supplied.

According to Blyth, Flybuys’ tech stack is now at a point where it can handle a large influx of data, which the CTO expects as more brands come on board the loyalty scheme.

“If you think about where the company was before – being really Coles-centric – if your plan is to go out and capture some other big brands, you need that flexibility around processing power and speed. That’s what the cloud was able for us, enabled us to do.”

Flybuys uses a mix of mostly Microsoft and AWS cloud services, typically Microsoft for office applications and AWS for customer ones. The company also tapped Snowflake for its data cloud services.

The most recent AWS migration was done with partner Versent and used Stax, a pre-configured platform for AWS migrations.

Blyth says the company’s technology is now completely decoupled from Coles and set up in a way to “launch into the next strategic part of Flybuys journey”.

New offerings

Since the demerger from Coles (which still retains a 50 per cent stake along with Wesfarmers) Flybuys has added Flybuys Unpacked, an advertising product, and …

Unpacked uses Flybuys member data to match advertisers with certain consumers who have shown interest in particular products. While there are still adtechs involved – advertisers don’t buy direct from Flybuys – Blyth says the data access is governed and the company is “very conscious over where this data is going”.

Launched this year, Blyth says the early results are positive, in part thanks to the Flybuys brand.

The company also made a move into the payments space, developing Flypay to simplify checkout processes and will eventually allow members to pay directly using reward points.

Flypay essentially prelinks payment methods and a customer’s loyalty accounts, presented as an option as checkout.

“What that’s aiming to do is make it really seamless,” Blyth says. “You got to a checkout, you press a button, it takes a payment and you get rewarded for that as well.” 

Flypay will eventually be expanded to allow members to pay using Flybuys points.

The feature brings Flybuys into direct competition with tech giants like Apple and Google, renowned for their digital experiences as well as long time digital payment provider PayPal. But Blyth insists the Flypay offering is just as slick with the added benefit of points. 

 Identity opportunity

Fundamental to those offerings is a robust identity management system, Blyth says. Flybuys use Ping Identity, an established US vendor used by most of the Fortune 100.

“Identity, for us, really needed to be an early capability that we rolled out and adopted quickly,” Blyth says.

“Obviously security is fundamental to our business. We source a lot of confidential information, private information from our members in order to participate in the program.”

But the CTO says there is also an opportunity to move beyond security and compliance, using identity management to drive personalisation and digital experiences.

For example, the Ping solution is used in the Unpacked product to more accurately match advertisers with audience segments while also managing Flybuy members’ consent to part of it.

With Australia’s data regulation potentially tightening up following more scrutiny from regulators and proposed legislation reform, Blyth says he’s confident the identity system is robust enough to exceed requirements now and into the future.

“We’re very confident that what we have in place won’t just meet the expectation of the regulators but we’re confident that we’re going to exceed that and give ourselves, basically a strategic advantage in this space by giving our members that clear transparency and a reason to participate and share data safely with us.”

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