Generating revenue through targeted advertisements on its user interfaces, Paribus has revolutionized the concept of consumer saving by helping users get automatic refunds—after prices drop their purchases.
Paribus collects your refunds from stores for you, in part by scanning your emails for receipts from your purchases. In today's digital world, most purchases require email verification and many in-person retailers will email you a receipt instead of, or in addition to, printing it out for you.
Instead of acting as a search engine through which users can find the best prices or obtain coupons, Paribus tracks all of its users’ purchases, helping them to secure rebates through the more than 25 online retailers that it monitors. The company has been free to use for consumers since 2016, when it was purchased by Capital One Financial Corp. (COF).
- Paribus tracks online receipts in a customer's email inbox and completes refund applications for select stores on behalf of customers.
- To date, Paribus has earned its users more than $29 million in rebates. However, Paribus is free to use for consumers and generates revenue through advertisements.
- Paribus is one of the leaders in the online coupon and rebate industry, competing with other rebate services that typically occur before a purchase such as Rakuten and Honey.
When Paribus founders Eric Glyman and Karim Atiyeh founded Paribus in 2014, the two Harvard grads observed that most retailers have policies in place to refund consumers if the price of their purchase subsequently drops. They also noticed that the odds are stacked against the average consumer, who lacks the advanced technology in an age where complex data systems and algorithms dictate what you see online.
The core issue is that consumers rarely have the time, resources, and the memory to go back and check for price drops. They also lack the incentive to spend their scarce free time in calling or emailing the retailer to get refunded, especially on time.
For those users still skeptical of Paribus' model, an alternative option some consumers use is through their credit-card providers. In some of these cases, providers advertise that they will refund you for a price change. Typically, consumers are required to send in documentation of the price change and a claim to their credit card issuer.
Paribus currently monitors more than 25 retailers for rebate possibilities.
Fundraising and Financials
Paribus fills that need by scanning your email inbox to track online purchases you made. It identifies your receipt, evaluates the data, and imports it into its database. The key piece of data is the price at which you bought the item. Your refund period generally lasts for about two weeks, during which Paribus will monitor the cost of the product and submit a refund request on your behalf if the price indeed drops.
Paribus raised $2.2 million in seed funding from investors including General Catalyst, Y Combinator, and Greylock before being acquired by Capital One for an undisclosed sum on Oct. 6, 2016. At the time, Paribus revealed that the financial services company would absorb both the technology and the team at Paribus. Since that time, financial figures regarding Paribus' performance have been hard to come by for the general public.
Prior to its acquisition by Capital One in 2016, Paribus would retain 25% of the amount of any rebate. Since 2016, though, Paribus has made its service entirely free for customers; they no longer retain any portion of rebates they secure and instead pass along 100% of returned funds to the user. In the case of totally free services, users are often skeptical of how companies earn revenue.
For Paribus, the company makes money through the targeted advertisements displayed on its user interfaces. According to its privacy statement, Paribus is committed to securing its users' data and does not sell user information for marketing purposes.
At the time of its acquisition by Capital One in 2016, Paribus had more than 700,000 users.
History and Leadership
Paribus was founded by Harvard graduates Eric Glyman and Karim Atiyeh in 2014. It officially launched in 2015 at TechCrunch Disrupt New York. When the company was acquired, it had a team of 12 who all joined Capital One. The two founders joined the new parent company with the title "Senior Directors in U.S. Card."
The trade-off for some consumers is the number of personal details that the startup will request from you. Paribus needs access to your email account and, in some cases, credit card information in order to ensure delivery of their portion of your refund through commission fees. Before writing off the service, users hesitant to share this information should do a thorough cost-benefit analysis on what type of person they are in regards to their spending habits and then determine whether sharing some personal information with Paribus is worth the potential amount of savings that they could receive.
Since Paribus has been absorbed into Capital One, any developments to the service are hard to track. When it was acquired, the bank was focused on merging Paribus into the company's broader set of financial tools, alongside CreditWise and Second Look. It was also speculated that as Capital One was already working on a new product focused on credit card price protection, that Paribus would have a potential play in this money-saving area.
Paribus’ service is more important now than ever as retail sales shift online. With the rise of digital marketing, price manipulations for online purchases are a seemingly everyday occurrence. At times, consumers are being essentially duped into buying items at a higher price, as some sites have the ability to raise prices after a consumer has viewed the site more than once. Advanced algorithms are used for dynamic pricing, which takes into consideration many factors beyond traditional supply and demand. For example, e-commerce leader Amazon.com is known for its frequent price fluctuations. Few people have the time and patience to keep track of this activity, which is exactly why many e-retailers utilize dynamic pricing.
To get Paribus, visit the Paribus site. sign in with your Gmail, Yahoo or Microsoft email account, and allow Paribus to monitor purchases in your inbox. No downloads or installs are necessary.
Paribus Pros and Cons
Paribus has positioned itself as the advocate of the individual consumer, serving as the champion of the "little guy" by taking back from large corporations. It uses the same approach as those retailers whose software automatically generates price changes. Instead of using data analysis to change prices, Paribus' software regularly checks for such fluctuations and automatically sends a refund request to the retailer when it discovers a change.
In the future, Paribus is likely to continue to focus on developing its technical capacity to track price changes and complete rebate applications on behalf of customers, while it simultaneously aims to continue growing its user base. Since the company moved to a 100% free model in 2016, it has shown no signs of further adjusting its approach.
Paribus differentiates itself from other players that aim to save consumers money on their purchases. They do this by backtracking your purchases instead of looking to help you save on future buys. The ingenious part about Paribus is that it uses the very same advanced data structures and algorithms that retailers use to distort prices.
Paribus presents itself as a champion of the average consumer who lacks the time and incentive to find (and follow through on) price-drop refunds. However, there may be some challenges to this model in the future. While Paribus currently enjoys a favored position as a niche service provider, the tech sector is one of the most rapidly-changing fields. It is likely that new startups will challenge some aspect of Paribus' model at some point in the future.
Paribus must also address changes to retailer policies and pricing algorithms as well, in order to best keep track of rebate possibilities for its users. A failure to do so could result in erosion of user trust and reputation.
Seamlessly scans Gmail, Yahoo and Microsoft inboxes for any price drops on past purchases
Monitors price drops with large retailers such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart
Automatically files a refund request with retailers, usually repaid to your original form of payment
Users must allow Paribus access to their email inbox
Only monitors 25 retailers, a relatively short list in a large online retail environment
Constantly changing retailer policies and pricing algorithms pose challenges to Paribus to keep up
Is Paribus Legit? Is It Safe?
Paribus is a legitimate price-tracking service owned by Capital One. According to the company, Paribus only looks at email related to online purchases, and doesn't store your email password.
Does Paribus Work With Amazon?
Yes. Paribus watches for price drops for Amazon purchases.
What Companies Work With Paribus?
Paribus tracks more than 25 online retailers, including Amazon, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Bloomingdale's, Costco, Home Depot, Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and more. A full list can be found on Capital One's website.
Does Paribus Charge a Fee?
No. Paribus is free to use.
How Do You Use Paribus?
To use Paribus, customers must sign up on Paribus' website, sign in with their Gmail, Yahoo, or Microsoft email account, and give Paribus permission to monitor purchases in their inbox.
Is Paribus Owned by Capital One?
Yes. Paribus was acquired by Capital One in 2016.
The Bottom Line
Paribus is a unique, automated price tracking service that helps shoppers get automatic refunds when prices drop on their latest purchases. Unlike many other online rebate competitors or budgeting apps such as Rakuten and Honey, Paribus uniquely operates in the post-purchase space. By automatically requesting a refund from the online retailer, Paribus saves shoppers time and effort so they can manage their money and know they are getting the best price.