A loyality and mobile payment extension to Foursquare

The rewards are an exclusive benefit encouraging me to use the app more. - Kelvin


Increase usage and hence revenue of Foursquare by extending its functionality to include mobile payments and loyalty rewards.


Notionally Foursquare: User Experience Design course

Time frame

2 weeks, October 2014



Our on screen reward stamps and QR payment codes make it easy for Foursquare users to support local business.

We recreated the familiar coffee stamp card within an app to encourage repeat visits to stores.

Then, by gently introducing and incentivising we broke down the barriers to uptake of paying by mobile.

These additions can encourage usage of Foursquare to grow and therefore its revenue.

Screenshot on smartphone showing success for paying via Foursquare

Skills & Techniques

  • Leadership & management
  • Desk based research
  • Competitive analysis
  • User interviews
  • Design studio
  • Sketching and ideation
  • Interaction design
  • (Guerrilla) Usability testing
  • User flows
  • App map
  • Screen recording & editing
  • Presentation


  • Pens & paper
  • Typeform
  • Invision
  • Omnigraffle
  • Google Drive
  • Active Presenter
  • Trello


5 years after it launched, the famous check-in element of Foursquare was spun-off as 'Swarm'. Foursquare now focuses on personalised, location based, recommendations of 1.9m+ cafes, shops and sights to its 50m+ users. The business model is to collect data on: user behaviours, businesses, and urban geography - for sale to, or use by services such as Bing, Flickr and Instagram



Throughout we focused on three themes:

Competitive analysis

We identified the leading (UK) players within each of our themes. Trialling their offerings gave us insight into the possible requirements and opportunities for ours.

We also learned that paying via NFC (Near Field Communication) technology or using a QR code were the most relevant methods for our needs. However NFC hardware has not been included in any iOS devices before the recently launched iPhone 6.


Recommendation space: Tripadviser, Yelp, Foursquare, Time Out, Google Loyalty: Avios, Nectar, Boots, Tesco, London Coffee Netwrork, Starbucks, Perka Payment: PayPal, Level Up, Square, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, NFC

User survey

We surveyed 107 people to learn their behaviours and attitudes. Result demographics:


Tripadvisor 66% Foursquare 10%, social recommendation sites popular. People check them regularly 71% open to mobile payments. 20% would not consider. If I loose my phone I will have lost my privacy and possibly lots of money
Photos of interviewes

User Interviews

We identified 8 people active in at least two of our target themes. Being potential users of our app we interviewed them to learn more about their behaviours and needs.


James in front of wall covered with postits


We put our findings on post it notes and grouped them into topics. From this we derived three personas and associated scenarios for them to use our app. We referred to these during the design processes to stay focused on users' needs.


Journalist, 26

I like to keep ahead of the curve
  • Proud ‘Expert’ status user of Foursquare
  • Frequent traveller, loves getting into the vibe of a city
  • Often forgets his bank card so likes to pay with mobile
  • Early adopter of tech


Art teacher, 35
Married 1 toddler

We can build a better community by shopping locally
  • Foodie who likes to shop at locally where possible.
  • Collects coffee shop stamps for instant reward but often forgets her paper card
  • Uses Pingit to send money to friends and family


Senior civil servant, 52
Married 2 children

I don’t have time to keep up with technology
  • Never used mobile payment
  • Trusts big brands but is suspicious of data collection
  • Wants to keep her card details with a service she already trusts

Pain points

  • Not having (right) cash to pay
  • Excessive push notifications
  • Lengthy forms

We can help

  • Make it easy to save money, with offers from local businesses
  • Offer a rewards programme that shows clear steps to next goal
  • Make the payment process quick and painless using existing services

Feature requirements

We determined that the app must enable users to easily:

The app should also allow users to:

Design process

With our research in mind, we held a design studio session: sketching as many solution ideas as quickly as possible to generate options for discussion.

Low fidelity prototype

Building on the existing Foursquare interface, we refined the ideas we judged best. These were turned into a tapable prototype with Invision. We tested it with 3 fresh people, letting them try it on our smartphones.


Man using prototype on smartphone
Woman using prototype on smartphone

Mid-fidelity prototype

We responded to these points while creating a second prototype, using Omnigraffle for more fidelity. We tested this version by appointment with some of our interviewees and guerrilla style on the street - 6 people in total. Findings

Some inspiration and a second design studio session and were needed. We also laid out our screens and re-ordered them to find a way forward. We revised the user flow to make payment a secondary feature to be introduced gradually. This made the rewards element far more prominent and referenced the familiar action of getting a card stamped. We also added the idea of a video to introduce the reward and payment concepts.

High fidelity prototype

Informed by Foursquare's brand guidelines, we used Omnigraffle and Photoshop to create a colour mock-up in InVision. Testers of this version were positive. People used the 'Add stamp' feature and in the process discovered the payment (setup) features. Feedback was that the payment process was too quick. So we added a 'Sending payment' screen to make it clearer when payment was completed.

  • Find a place screenshot
  • Breakfast  screenshot
  • My rewards screenshot
  • The London Particular screenshot
  • Payment screenshot
  • Paid confirmation screenshot
  • Reward claim screenshot
  • Reward claimed screenshot
Find a place screenshotBreakfasts screenshotMy rewards screenshot London Particular screenshot Payment barcode screenshot Payment success screenshot Rweard barcode screenshot Reward claimed screenshot
Collage of low middle and high fidelity prototypes

Video demonstration

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We documented the app with user flow diagrams and an app map. These and the full results of our survey can be found in our Design Specification and Research document.

Next steps

With more time we would have refined and iterated further on many part of the app. Had this project continued we would have investigated the impact on user experience of the:

We could also have considered the users ideas that intersected with Foursquare's goals:

We opted not to examine vendors during this project. Hardware wise we noted that tills capable of having QR scanners are increasingly common. This and the cashier's experience would be important areas of further study.

Customer in coffee shop paying using a smartphone


By using its existing location data and moving into loyalty, Foursquare would be uniquely placed to dominate the emerging mobile payment market across all four points of the compass! That's how we'd increase usage and revenue of Foursquare.