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Cardlytics $CDLX: New Innovative Fintech Partner, Affirm?

Clues that Affirm (with their Affirm Debit+ card) is the new innovative fintech partner of Cardlytics / Dosh, and the benefits of a BNPL partnership.

For all my notes on CDLX, check out my Qualitative and Quantitative “Research Notes”:

This was first published on Substack and discussed on YouTube on 12.5.2021. Republishing on my website as a backup.

Market Cap as of 12.5.2021: $62/Share x 33M Shares ~ $2B Market Cap.

Disclosure: The following discussion around a new potential partner is speculation only.


Over the last year, there has been both some level of fear and uncertainty around buy now pay later (BNPL), and what that means for Cardlytics in terms of a new payment type and the potential for a new advertising competitor.

Additionally, there has been quite a bit of speculation regarding “one of the most innovative fintechs in the U.S” that Cardlytics / Dosh partnered with, mentioned at the Q2 2021 earnings call.

After months of questioning, there are now some signs that the new partner is one of the BNPL players, Affirm.

New Innovative Fintech Partner

During the Q2 2021 earnings call, there was mention of 14 new neobank and fintech partners. Specifically called out was a new partner who is “one of the most innovative fintechs in the U.S.”:

“Additionally, we have another 14 neobank and fintech platforms coming online over the following quarters. The new partners include a contract with one of the most innovative fintechs in the U.S.” - Lynne Laube, CEO, Cardlytics, Q2 2021 Earnings Call

The key identifying words:

  • Innovative (not largest)

  • Fintech (not neobank)

  • U.S. (not the world, nor in another country)


The word innovative stands out the most. Given the significant number of market-wide discussions around BNPL this year, this seems it could fit the definition of innovative.

Evidence that Cardlytics would partner with a BNPL player was indicated during the 2021 Cardlytics Investor Day presentation, when discussing the slide, “Looking forward, 2022 and beyond”:

“We’re continuing to evaluate, with product and our bank partners, additional value-added enhancements and services that will deliver even more value for our bank partners and their customers.
We’re exploring synergies with bank-funded loyalty programs, bank-driven commerce experiences, and providing offer construct support for new financing vehicles, the likes of buy now pay later, that will benefit both our bank and advertising partners.” - Farrell Hudzik, Executive Vice President of Financial Institutions, Cardlytics, Investor Presentation

This was one of the first times I had heard BNPL mentioned by Cardlytics.

Even if this was not meant to be in regards to new partners, it was at least a sign that Cardlytics was working on building out the capabilities to work with BNPL.

Around August 17th, 2021 (a couple weeks after the Q2 2021 earnings call and the mention of a new innovative partner, and a couple months after the investor day presentation with the mention of BNPL), Cardlytics tweeted about Figure Pay, who provides BNPL loans. Looking at their website, you could see their rewards were powered by Dosh. (For more detail, this was discussed in the last write-up and video). At first I thought this may be the innovative partner, given the use of BNPL. However, I feel that given Figure Pay is a lesser-known company, Cardlytics would not have specifically called out this partner as the innovative partner. Therefore, it is more likely that Figure Pay is a part of the 14 new neobanks and fintechs mentioned. This has led myself to continue wondering (and hoping) that the innovative fintech was someone else.


Affirm could possibly be the partner Cardlytics is hinting at, given Affirm’s app has cash-back offers, and given Affirm’s new debit card.

The largest reason why Cardlytics could be partnering with Affirm is due to Acceleration Partners, who works with both Cardlytics and Affirm.

More importantly, on September 20, 2021 (based on this tweet), Acceleration Partners but on a webinar series. In this series, both Cardlytics and Affirm gave presentations. Maybe one could not take too much from this, since there were other presenters as well.

However, during the presentation with Affirm, towards the very end, the host asked at the 37:16 mark,

Anything new, exciting, you wanted to touch on?”.

Affirm’s Director of Marketplace Partnerships responded:

I mentioned the in-store fork, which is this like omnichannel experience that we’re really looking to deliver, connecting online and offline. Its also like the incrementality word, probably something that we’ve always heard, and because we are a payment network as well, and have this affiliate program, I think this could be really interesting to think about this in the future, so it is a bit of a teaser I think, you know, if you partner with us, or are looking to partner with us, the things we are thinking about is how do we leverage the payment data that we have to connect online and offline.
Rewards and incentives. So we are gonna [trails off, stops] we’re running a small cash-back test right now with a handful of merchants which we are going to look to expand. And again, those cash-back transactions, is like, if you think about 0% APR financing offers and cash-back and the consumer rewards behind that, and consumers having the ability to feel really compelled to make a purchase, we really believe its going to generate additional conversions and higher AOVs, because consumers feel really compelled to shop via Affirm. So there is going to be an expansion that's coming up on that." - Kisney Lopes, Director, Marketplace Partnerships, Affirm, Acceleration Partners Webinar Series

The keys here are that Affirm’s Director of Marketplace Partnerships mentions incrementality, online and offline, payment data, a new cash-back program, announced it as a teaser (with Cardlytics presenting the next day) and how there will be an expansion coming up related to that.

On the same day of this presentation, September 20, 2021, Affirm added a new web page on cash-back deals, that still says:

“Note: At this time, Affirm Cash Back is a new rewards experience that Affirm is testing out and is currently limited to a small percentage of customers. If you do not see Affirm Cash Back in your Affirm app, it is not available to you at this time but we are excited to be able to offer it to you in the future.

In terms of the testing, Acceleration Partners works with brands such as Adidas and StubHub. Both Adidas and StubHub have options to pay with Affirm at checkout. Additionally, both Adidas and StubHub have offers now on Cardlytics (and I believe both are fairly new to Cardlytics). Maybe a coincidence, but it is possible these are two of the brands that are a part of the test that Affirm is talking about.

Then within the separate Cardlytics presentation the next day, the host asked at the 33:45 mark,

"When we think about buy now pay later, of the likes of Klarna and Affirm, how do you see, if at all, buy now pay later fitting into your audience, and does Dosh specifically partner with those players, or is at all separate? How do you envision that?"

Evelyne Forester, Vice President of Agency & Channel Partnerships of Cardlytics responded:

"Yeah so we don't…I mean that is a massive segment that’s growing so much. We don't partner with them today [emphasized today], although that is something that is certainty top of mind and I believe on [stops, smiles] our organization is actually separated into ads and bank. The bank team are the people that run all our relationships with the major banks, etc. So that, I believe is something that is top of mind, but not an area that we or Dosh is actually working in today. But lots of opportunity there." - Evelyne Forester, Vice President of Agency & Channel Partnerships, Cardlytics, Acceleration Partners Webinar Series

Not much given, but when watching the video, it almost seemed as if she stops herself from saying something else. Regardless, it is a sign of Cardlytics looking into this area.


In isolation, most of these facts mean very little. However, together you have:

  • Affirm with their app and new debit card

  • Lynne Laube mentioning a new innovative fintech partner during the Q2 2021 earnings call

  • Cardlytics mentioning looking into BNPL during the June 2021 Investor Day

  • Cardlytics and Affirm both working with Acceleration Partners

  • Acceleration Partners put on a webinar series in September 2021, with both Cardlytics and Affirm presenting

  • In the Affirm presentation, Affirm’s Director of Marketplace Partnerships mentions incrementality, online and offline, payment data, a new cash-back program, announced it as a teaser (with Cardlytics presenting the next day) and how there will be an expansion coming up related to that.

  • Then the next presentation was Cardlytics, so the order could be a sign as well (given the previous points in the Affirm presentation)

  • In the Cardlytics presentation, Cardlytics is specifically asked about partnering with a BNPL partner, like Affirm or Klarna, and gives at least the indication it is something “certainly top of mind”.

Given the above, and given Cardlytics is presenting tomorrow at the Raymond James 2021 Technology Investors Conference, it seems possible that if Cardlytics and Affirm are partnering together, we could hear about it soon.

Benefits to Cardlytics

A partnership with a BNPL player like Affirm would likely remove the fears of increasing payments shifting to BNPL, that Cardlytics does not currently capture.

Given BNPL is typically used with big-ticket items, like with merchants such as Peloton, this could add higher ARPU offers for Cardlytics.

A partnership would also remove the fears of a BNPL player like Affirm getting into advertising on their own, leveraging their SKU-level data. By Cardlytics partnering with Affirm, Cardlytics would not have to worry about that extra competition, and would also benefit from likely getting access to that SKU-level data.

In all, I think a partnership like this would be further proof of the value of Cardlytics’ scale, where Affirm would be leveraging Cardlytics’ large dedicated resource of employees, experience with handling / analyzing / measuring payment data, and relationships with many advertisers.


If the new “innovative fintech” that Cardlytics is partnering with is Affirm, I think many investors, including myself, would be very pleased.

At the end of the day, the new innovative fintech partner could still be someone else, but most signs point to Affirm, which would be a great partner for Cardlytics.


If you have any questions or push back on any of the above, please contact me. I would enjoy discussing more.

-Austin Swanson (Swany407)

Twitter: @Swany407

More Detail

I discussed this topic in more detail in the following video:

New Observations, Upcoming Earnings Calls, and Updated Allocations

I discussed this topic in more detail in the following video:

The Best Potential Next Partner, Apple:

Future Possibilities

Valuations & Intrinsic Value

Thoughts Following Q2 2021 Earnings and Price Decline

Opportunities with PayPal

Best Case Scenario with Venmo

Investor Day Presentation (Includes discussions on Venmo)

I discussed Venmo Offers in detail in the Cardlytics investor day write-up and video:

Venmo Offers Valuation

I discussed Venmo Offers and valuations with additional detail in the following write-up and video:

Detailed Write-Up and Valuation

If you are looking for more detail on this company and the investment thesis, I have created a write-up, which is free to read via Substack. The write-up is formatted in bullets to more quickly skim and read sections of interest.

I also discussed the investment on YouTube.

Additional Resources and Links

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes. Before making any investment, you should do your own analysis. Please see the Disclaimer page for more details.


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