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SparkBase LLC
Industry Financial Services
Founded Ohio, United States, 2004 (2004)
Founder Douglas Hardman
Headquarters Cleveland, Ohio
United States
Area served
United States, Canada, European Union, and South America
Key people
Douglas Hardman, Chief Executive Officer [1][2]
Services Payment Processing
Gift/Loyalty Cards
Stored Value Cards
Loyalty Marketing
Number of employees

SparkBase, LLC (SparkBase or SB) was a stored-value and gift card transaction processor located in Cleveland, Ohio, United States from 2004 to 2016.[3] It provided private-label, stored-value, specialty gift cards, customer loyalty, and community rewards programs to Independent Sales Organizations (independent companies used by banks to develop new merchant relationships on their behalf).[2] ISOs then sold these gift and loyalty products to merchant customers along with credit card services and processing equipment.[4]

In 2009, Sparkbase managed gift card processing for over 12 million alternate payment system cards, with an average daily balance of approximately $120 million.[5] The company developed its own network code in-house, with twenty-three developers on staff, and operated its own servers and Tier V data center on site, with off-site secondary and tertiary backup data centers.


The company was founded in 2004 by software developer Douglas Hardman as a division of Technology Imaging Services, and purchased by Hardman in early 2007. Hardman was the CTO of SparkBase prior to his acquisition of the company.[6][7]

SparkBase's offices in Cleveland, Ohio

Place in the Prepaid Card Industry[edit]

Main article: Stored-value card

SparkBase is in the closed system prepaid card part of the gift card industry, offering a software as a service stored-value payment processing network for specialty gift cards, customer loyalty programs, and community rewards programs. SparkBase does not service merchants directly, but rather acts as a private-label service through third parties, such as Independent Sales Offices (ISOs), loyalty marketing companies, financial institutions, and banks. These entities then market their own version of SparkBase’s gift and loyalty platform to their merchants in conjunction with credit card services and processing equipment.[4]

The gift card network provided by SparkBase is a private-label or white label system that allows the third party (typically an ISO), to brand the company's stored-value network and associated gift cards with the third party’s own logo and other identifying information.[8]

Industry Services Originating with SparkBase[edit]


Mobile wallet app for reward cards, discounts, store coupons and gift cards to merchants on the SparkBase network. Announced in March 2011, and awarded "Technology Innovation of the Year" by the Electronic Transactions Association in May. Currently PayCloud is widely available in Cleveland, Columbus, Chicago, and Jacksonville.

Loyalty Star[edit]

Web-based RFM analysis and campaign management tool for merchants on the SparkBase network.[edit] is a tool offered by SparkBase which allows customers to register their gift cards, and check their balances online. The API toolset permits ISOs and merchants to create a registration and gift card balance portal directly on their own branded site. Through that portal, merchants can then access contact and other information about their customers acquired through the registration process, and use this information in e-mail, SMS messaging, and other marketing efforts.[8]

Screenshot of mock customer analytics page for SparkBase's private-label merchant services

Text Messaging Gateway[edit]

In October 2008, SparkBase launched the first SMS (short messaging service) gateway integration, allowing merchants to reach individual gift card holders directly through SMS text messaging.[9]

The text messaging service offered by SparkBase may be used as a marketing vehicle and a means of payment, and provides end-users a mechanism to check loyalty card balances and otherwise conduct loyalty card transactions directly through their cell phone.[8] This service also offers merchants the ability to send electronic coupon codes, special offers, and rewards messages directly to their customers.[10]


  • In 2009, founder Douglas Hardman received the Smart Business Network "Rising Star" Award in relation to Sparkbase.
  • In 2011, Sparkbase's smart phone-enabled mobile payment service, Paycloud®, won the Technology Innovation Award at the Electronic Transactions Association's Annual Meeting.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Emerging leaders talk about what Cleveland could be". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  2. ^ a b "A new era in digital marketing". The Green Sheet 2.0. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  3. ^ "Sparkbase's loyalty card services expected to create jobs in Cleveland area". hiVelocity. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  4. ^ a b "Catching Fire: How Douglas Hardman is taking Sparkbase LLC to the next level". Smart Business Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  5. ^ "Doug Hardman of Cleveland's SparkBase on what he looks for in employees: Talk With the Boss". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  6. ^ "SparkBase of operations". The Green Sheet 2.0. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  7. ^ "SparkBase CTO becomes Owner". Sparkbase website. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  8. ^ a b c "Gift card network at your service". The Green Sheet 2.0. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  9. ^ "SparkBase Launches SMS Gift Card Portal". Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  10. ^ "SMS Gift Card system powered by Inspiton Logistics". eCommerce Journal. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  11. ^ "SparkBase's Paycloud® Mobile Wallet Wins 2011 Technology Innovation Award". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 

External links[edit]