Innovation in Marketing

NurCard, a Unique Loyalty Program from Armenia

Combining a rewards credit card with loyalty programs from a large number of retailers in Armenia, the NurCard increases customer engagement while eliminating headaches

© 2016 Ramen / David V.

The Republic of Armenia, commonly referred to simply as Armenia, is a small nation in the Southern Caucasus region of Western Asia that is quickly becoming a significant player on the world stage. With a population of about 3 million residents, it has proven itself deft and active establisher of transnational trade deals, becoming highly involved in international trade with countries around the world, including in Europe, the Middle East, and with CIS countries. It is a member of the Council of Europe and the Eurasian Economic Union, among other major international organizations.

While Armenia has picked up steam as a partner in international business ventures, it has also increased its profile as a tourist attraction, thanks mainly to the beauty of its natural environment and its stately yet modern capital city, Yerevan. A city that is nearly 2800 years old, Yerevan is chock full of impressive monuments and architectural wonders, such as the St. Gregory Cathedral and the Yerevan Opera, and the majestic, snowcapped Mt. Ararat is provides a stunning backdrop for the beautiful Armenian capital.

As much as Yerevan delights visitors with its buildings, monuments, and cultural attractions, it is, at its core, a modern and dynamic city. It is as much home to old cathedrals and grand plazas as it is to office buildings, modern shopping complexes, and a busy, ambitious, and innovative populace. One of the clearest symbols of Armenia’s dynamism in the modern world is the innovative NurCard project, a collaborative loyalty program that combines cumulative rewards from multiple retailers with a line of credit, all on a single card.

Taking Customer Loyalty Programs to the Next Level

© 2016 Ramen / David V.

Marketing research has shown that loyalty programs—the various cards, codes, and incentive programs that offer increasingly valuable sales, cash back opportunities, and rebates to customers of a brand as they make repeat purchases—are effective in expanding the business relationship that light-buyers of a brand have with the retailer. But the thing that consumers complain most about in connection with loyalty programs is that, due to the sheer number of them that are available, they are difficult to take advantage of. What once felt like a great opportunity to obtain discounts or access exclusive deals from a favorite brand now feels like a burden, as each loyalty program signed up for becomes just another card to lose track of in an ever-expanding billfold, another password to forget, or sale to miss. As keeping track of rewards becomes more complex, customer engagement in loyalty programs goes down.

That is why NurCard, a program with operations based in Yerevan but used widely across Armenia, has been such a huge success. The NurCard project is based on a collaboration between NurCard, Ardshinbank (one of the largest banks in Armenia), and major retailers across the country, including both international and domestic brands. An incredible 700,000 customers are taking advantage of the program, representing well over half of all economically active people in Armenia. The ability to accumulate rewards including up to 15% cash back on purchases while shopping at clothing retailers, gas stations, cafes and restaurants, bookshops, hotels, and more has made NurCard the best choice for the savvy buyer in Armenia.

NurCard offers two principal products: the original MasterCard NurCard and the premium-tier MasterCard NurCard Gold, which offers additional benefits such as concierge service and increased international benefits. Rewards are tracked and accumulated whenever a purchase is made using the NurCard, making it somewhat of a best-of-both-worlds between a rewards credit card and a loyalty program. The immense success of the project in Armenia has led the company to begin expanding internationally, with the Russia being the first foreign market the project will enter.

The CEO of the NurCard project, Marina Dallakyan, has demonstrated an aptitude for creative innovation in the marketing space, and by all accounts the project will continue to grow well into the future. NurCard has been recognized with the “Best Project of the Year” Award by the Public Council of Armenia two years in a row, and it has, much like the image of the Pomegranate on the card itself, become a symbol of Armenian ingenuity and inventiveness.

For its innovative approach to a widely deployed and central practice in modern marketing, its incredible success in its home country, and its ambitious expansion plans abroad, NurCard has been selected by Business Initiative Directions to receive the 2016 BID International Quality Award, one of the highest global honors for innovation and organizational excellence.


BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.