iLyngo a Chicago based startup has launched a very interesting messaging app Cyfr which combines fun instant messaging features—(the app allows users to create secret codes that only their friends can translate)—with mobile commerce by displaying personalized deals to its users based on the keywords in their chats and their GPS locations. For example, if a consumer is on the bus and replies to a friend’s Cyfr message about going to the beach with, “Yes, but I need a beach towel,” the app could show her a deal for 15% off a beach towel at a nearby store.
By pairing mobile commerce with mobile messaging, iLyngo expects to ride the rising wave of popularity among consumers ages 15-27 for such instant messaging apps.
Given the commercial possibilities, e-commerce companies also are getting in on the action. Rakuten Inc., the Japanese company that owns online marketplaces in several countries, for instance, recently purchased mobile chat and app platform provider Viber Media Inc. for $900 million in February.
Cyfr’s name, shorthand for “decipher,” reflects its main chatting feature. A consumer can create her own set of shorthand words, a language of saved meanings that only her Cyfr contacts can translate, which they do by tapping on the message. Cyfr also offers features similar to other popular mobile messaging apps, such as the ability for messages to “self-destruct”—a la Snapchat, or, for older folks, the TV show “Mission: Impossible”—or for users to attach multiple photos to a message or chat in groups. These are capabilities of several mobile messaging apps, including Facebook’s WhatsApp.
Consumers also earn points for every action they take in Cyfr, such as creating a new code word or sending a hidden message.Today, that’s just for fun, but eventually consumers will be able to redeem those points to access discounts from retailers through the app. For now, Cyfr displays offers only from mobile deal aggregator Spotzot. The deals appear in a special section of the app, where they are arranged top to bottom in order of relevancy to a consumer, based on the keywords in her chats. When a consumer clicks on a deal, she is taken out of the app and to Spotzot’s mobile web site.
Later the app will also enable a retailer to send push notifications to offer her more timely deals, for instance, as she walks by a store selling something she just said she needs. The retailer will be able to decide where to direct a shopper after she taps Redeem, perhaps to download a coupon she must present in a store, or to a mobile product page to buy an item right away.
Although the company hasn’t mounted a big marketing push, a few thousand curious consumers have come across the app and downloaded it on their own in the last several weeks, he says. They are clicking on the deals without any prompting, he adds, without giving details.