Heartland Payments Systems is beefing up its loyalty program offering for merchant clients through a planned acquisition of loyalty/gift-card provider Chockstone. The deal, noted by Heartland chairman and CEO Robert Carr in a conference call discussing the company’s third-quarter announcement last week, will enhance Heartland’s play with larger food-service and retail clients and provide a single-source option for smaller merchants. Heartland expects additional penetration in the gift-card merchant segment, which had “historically” been outsourced, Carr said. “Both gift and loyalty solutions tend to reduce merchant attrition, which adds to Chockstone's attraction,” said Carr.

Heartland signed the deal earlier this month, and planned to close “in a couple of weeks,” Carr told analysts on Nov. 4. No terms were disclosed, although he noted the deal would be “immaterial” to 4Q and 2009 fiscal results. In 2007, Portland, OR-based Chockstone had previously acquired micropayment software firm Peppercoin. One of its signature clients is Subway.

Aite Group analyst Adil Moussa says Heartland “is set to get one of the most powerful loyalty providers in the market.” Chockstone’s systems print targeted coupon offers to consumers on receipts at the point-of-sale, and gets a “significant distribution platform through Heartland’s sales force and Heartland’s existing merchant base,” Moussa says.

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