Online traders now dabble in… gas points?

Forget the TSE and Nasdaq, the newest trading sites are loyalty program currency exchanges.

Forget the TSE and Nasdaq, the newest trading sites are loyalty program currency exchanges.

Points.com of Toronto and Chicago-based online travel site Orbitz recently teamed up to give collectors a chance to exchange points from one program account to another. Points.com allows exchanges between programs such as American Airlines, Air Canada, Delta Airline, America West Airlines, Midwest Express Airlines, Alaska Airlines, ChanceRewards, FTD.com and GiftCertificates.com. Orbitz also works with a number of other points exchange partners.

Smart cards are also getting in on the points exchange action and will be a key component of CashBaQ.ca. Last year, iScape Media of Toronto, and Infomeca Holdings of Montreal announced a joint venture company called CashBaQ Stock Exchange for Points.

The site is expected to be ready for consumers by the end of this year to allow them to buy, sell and trade points for Canada’s top credit card, gas, travel and retail programs. Users will need a smart card reader attached to their PC and a reloadable smart card – an electronic wallet – that will hold cash and points to be exchanged back and forth.

Pierre Combaluzier is president and COO of CashBaQ partner Infomeca, which develops and markets customer loyalty programs using electronic cash coupons or rebates. In addition to the trading and buying of loyalty points on CashBaQ.ca, Combaluzier says smart cards will allow secure electronic financial transactions in promotions as well as through direct electronic cash transfers for customer loyalty. The smart cards may be co-branded with banks such as MBNA with which Infomeca already works to offer affinity cards to groups in the US and Canada.

The CashBaQ.ca test site features a ‘trading board’ listing the dollar value of each point as well as bid and quotes features. Air Miles currently tops the value list at $0.38 (Cdn) with Club Z, Petro Points, Esso Extra Sears Club, Aeroplan, Canadian Tire and CIBC, Royal Bank TD, Scotiabank, National Bank, and American Express programs all running at $0.31.