Apple Pay has firmed up their announcement about rewards, but it’s not exactly what I was expecting. I didn’t pay much attention to the initial announcement a couple of days ago, as I was traveling for business. Now that I’ve had some time to catch up, I realized the announcement was a bit different from the rumors I had reported on a couple of weeks ago.
Instead of Apple getting into the loyalty game on their own, they’ll be giving merchants the ability to offer their rewards program through Apple Pay. According to this press release from Apple, there are a handful of merchants that will kick the program off later this year:
Apple® today announced Apple Pay™ is making everyday payments even better by adding support for rewards programs and store-issued credit and debit cards with iOS 9. Apple Pay will also give shoppers more ways to pay in the US, expanding merchant acceptance to over one million locations next month and bringing support for Discover this fall. With this addition, Apple Pay will accept credit and debit cards across all major card networks, issued by the most popular banks, representing 98 percent of all credit card purchase volume in the US.
To get the most out of purchases, users simply add participating rewards and store-issued cards to the Wallet app and seamlessly use them at checkout with Apple Pay. This fall, more than 80 million active members of Walgreens Balance Rewards program, the nation’s largest drugstore loyalty program, will be able to easily and securely use their rewards with Apple Pay. Additionally, Kohl’s Department Stores will begin rolling out Apple Pay to its 30 million Yes2You Reward program members. Others bringing rewards programs to Apple Pay users include Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Donuts, Panera Bread and Wegmans Food Markets. Favorite store-issued cards available to Apple Pay users will include BJ’s Wholesale Club, Kohl’s Department Stores and JCPenney, with many more to come.
Interesting, and I bet that’s wicked complicated. But, it’s a huge plus for Apple and creating stickiness with Apple Pay. I don’t currently use it (for the reasons I laid out here) but if Apple would enable me to handle payment and loyalty recognition in one step, that would save time (and the hassle of when I forget to bring my card/key in my number etc).
I’m super thrilled that Wegmans is on the pilot list. They’re absolutely the best grocery store in the country. They even have an awesome sushi counter (the new Wild Alaskan Salmon Oshi-zushi roll is friggin awesome).
Anyway, Apple Pay getting more valuable!
Hat tip to JZ @Hyatt for calling my attention back to Apple Pay.
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