ACCC set to authorise BP, Qantas loyalty scheme

The ACCC is proposing to grant authorisation allowing Qantas, BP Australia and independent BP petrol stations to collectively participate in the BP Rewards, Qantas Frequent Flyer and Qantas Business Reward programs.

In September, it was announced that Qantas Frequent Flyer would become the “cornerstone partner” of BP’s new customer loyalty program, BP Rewards.

In a draft determination released today, the ACCC proposes to grant a five-year authorisation for these arrangements. Under the agreement, BP-branded petrol stations will need to take part in the Qantas rewards programs, as well.

“We consider that these arrangements will provide public benefits, for example by giving consumers more opportunity to earn and use rewards program points,” ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

“The arrangements are also likely to provide cost savings to the parties, by allowing BP to negotiate with Qantas on behalf of BP petrol station owners, rather than each station owner needing to negotiate individually.”

No negative impact on competition

Mr Ridgeway says the ACCC doesn’t think the planned arrangements will have any significant negative impact on competition.

“Qantas has the biggest loyalty reward scheme in Australia in terms of member numbers, and BP is a major petrol retailer,” he said.

“However, there are many retailers, petrol and non-petrol, that could participate as partners in other loyalty programs.”

Potential for consumer harm

Mr Ridgeway, however, raises one possible issue.

“We do have some concerns about the potential for consumer harm arising from BP sharing consumer data with Qantas as a result of the arrangements, and we encourage BP and Qantas to adopt the recommendations regarding the collection and use of customer data in the ACCC’s final report into customer loyalty schemes when it is published,” he said.

Further details

The ACCC invites submissions in response to the draft determination. It is expected that a final determination will be released in February 2020.

The ACCC has also granted interim authorisation in relation to BP’s participation in the Qantas Business Rewards program, so that BP’s participation can commence on 1 February 2020.

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