Frictionless customer experience and local business support through rewards and payment integration


Bangor Savings Bank launched the integration between its Buoy Local® rewards program and its debit cards to allow customers to seamlessly earn rewards while shopping locally.

Bangor Savings Bank recently integrated its Buoy Local® rewards program into its debit cards to streamline its cardholders’ purchase rewards experience. The bank accomplished the integration through its collaboration with dynamic payment processing leaders to develop programmable payments technology.

In 2016, Bangor Savings Bank launched Buoy Local, a purchase rewards program for shoppers to earn rewards while supporting local merchants. Through the Buoy Local application, rewards members connected their Buoy Local card to a funding source, such as a credit or debit card. They presented their Buoy Local card to make purchases at participating merchants, and it was processed through their linked funding source.

The Buoy Local program experienced steady growth with merchants and consumers. However, the Bank recognized an opportunity to streamline the customer experience. By integrating the Buoy Local program with the Bank’s debit card, Bangor Savings Bank could eliminate the need for consumers to present a Buoy Local card when making a purchase, and the need to identify participating and nonparticipating merchants.

In March 2020, the Bank started the integration project through programmable payments technology. The Bank’s goal was to integrate the Buoy Local rewards program with its existing debit card product, the Bangor Savings Bank Debit Mastercard®.

The Bangor Savings Bank project teams worked with cardholder leaders Fiserv and fintech partner PayWith Worldwide Inc. to create a first-of-its-kind switch that sits between Fiserv’s Electronic Platform for Online Communications (EPOC®) debit platform and the core banking system. Named the Fintech Switch, the technology looks at each transaction to determine if it is with a participating Buoy Local merchant. If the answer is no, the transaction continues as it normally would. If yes, the Fintech Switch checks to see if the cardholder has a points (“Buoy Bucks”) balance that should be applied. Simultaneously, it adds the transaction’s reward points to the accumulated balance by reaching out to a separate rewards database. The Bank maintained the app so cardholders can choose to easily look up participating merchants in the Buoy Local coalition in Maine and New Hampshire, and to manage and track their Buoy Bucks.

Not only does integrating the Buoy Local program into its debit cards reduce friction, but enrolling in the rewards program is easy. Once a consumer has installed the Buoy Local application on their mobile device and added their Bangor Savings Bank debit card as the payment source, they simply transact with their debit card at participating Buoy Local business and earn rewards for every dollar spent, which can be redeemed for future purchases. A consumer does not have to present a Buoy Local card, remember which card in their wallet to use, or cross-check to see if a merchant is a Buoy Local participant. Points are automatically earned at all participating merchants, and any Buoy Bucks applied to the purchase will be credited to their Bangor Savings Bank account.

Bangor Savings Bank sees even more potential for the Fintech Switch programmable payments technology. The Fintech Switch allows the customers’ debit card features to change over time or when new features become available. Customers will be able to pick useful features and remove any they don’t need. For example, the bank and its programmable payments partners are working on a solution to modernize overdraft solutions to give the end user more real-time transparency and control. The bank knows that providing its customers, whether merchants or consumers, with the right tools at the right time, will help deliver on the core mission to serve customers and create stronger and more prosperous communities.

Since its inception, Buoy Local has successfully retained $6 million in sales within the Northern New England economy. The rewards program has more than 10,000 users and a growing network of more than 1,600 participating businesses. This dynamic program creates deeper relationships across the bank’s footprint as consumers and merchants see Bangor Savings Bank’s commitment to their mutual success. Supporting local businesses is at the heart of community banking and Bangor Savings Bank believes that thriving local businesses make for strong communities.