Apple Pay users will soon be able to receive discounts, rewards and exclusive offers when making mobile purchases at 300,000 unattended locations including vending machines, thanks to an expansion of the company’s existing partnership with USA Technologies. The change will streamline the process for users to sign up for the loyalty program “More.” Once onboard, an Apple Pay user making a purchase at a vending machine may receive a discount usable at a nearby food vendor, for example. Integration of features like this may be key to revitalizing mobile purchasing frequency, which has been on a steady decline despite overall adoption rising. This move is significant for two reasons:
Loyalty programs through mobile wallets are a must-have to unleash mass wallet adoption. Consumers’ mobile payments’ adoption fell short of high expectations in 2016, but are expected to uptick in the coming year thanks to strategic incentives like easy digital loyalty perks tracking and redemption. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay each have added support for uploading store cards with loyalty. Similarly, merchant mobile wallets by Starbucks, CVS and Taco Bell offer in-app loyalty features.
Apple Pay continues to push towards ubiquitous acceptance. As of December 2016, Apple Pay was accepted at over 4 million merchant locations in the U.S., or 35% of total locations nationwide. That’s up from only 4% in two years. In addition to traditional retail stores, mobile wallets must focus on acceptance everywhere cards are taken – such as parking garages, vending machines and other self-serve locations supported by USA Pay. To keep momentum, the wallet provider plans to pursue high-profile partners like Gap throughout 2017.
It’s possible that the integration of mobile gaming elements may be next for Apple Pay’s loyalty programs, that is, if Apple Pay follows the lead of Android Pay. In a “teardown” of the latest Android Pay update in November 2016, Android Police found evidence that the payment tool would support gaming features for loyalty. The code suggested users may be offered prizes for shopping, which they can later open to see if they’ve won. If Android Pay’s loyalty game turns out to be legitimate, it would be a step beyond Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, which merely replicate the abilities of a card, with mobile gaming features possible only in a phone.