There was a mix of good and bad, for loyalty in 2019.

Much of the bad has derived from a lack of belief or understanding from CEOs, who constrain budgets, and prop up short-term earnings with value that ought to flow to customers.

The widespread devaluation of loyalty currencies during the past few years brings this into sharp focus.

Despite such obstacles, however, many determined loyalty professionals have carved out real gains. This has mostly been via low-investment, tactical approaches that increase ROI, and by educating the C-suite regarding long-term strategic value.

That same growth-hacking approach – a trademark of Silicon Valley firms – has led to some important advances for the entire industry to observe. But there remain some fundamental things that loyalty programs need to achieve to weather the looming storm that open banking, mobile payments, aggregation models, and other marketplace dynamics will bring.

In this ‘perfect storm’ of change, the sheltered existence, that many leading loyalty programs have enjoyed for three decades, will come to an end.