Mobile payment experts have long pointed to loyalty programme integration as one of the key drivers for mobile payment adoption. The balkanization of mobile payments, with multiple competing platforms backed by card associations, manufacturers, and retailers, means that the first platform to reach critical mass by seamlessly linking loyalty and payments will enjoy a decided edge. Enter Apple Pay, which has landed two major U.S. retailers in Kohl's department stores and Walgreens pharmacies who plan to integrate their respective loyalty programmes with the platform. Looks like the mobile future is proceeding apace.
According to Pymnts.com, there seems to be some confusion as to which retailer first launched rewards with Apple Pay, although why who went first matters isn't exactly clear. Kohl's programme is tied to its store-branded credit card, while Walgreen's is multi-tender, which could make a difference in how easy it is for shoppers to access one versus the other. Money quote from PYMNTS:
"With both retailers now having their loyalty programmes linked with Apple Pay - and neither transaction requiring the consumer to open an app, other than the mobile wallet, to both pay for the purchase and get credit for it on her loyalty account - the distinction appears to be that, in Walgreens case, it’s a two-step process within Apple Pay - loyalty card, then credit card - while Kohl's consumers only need to interface with the store's NFC reader once... provided their method of payment is the Kohl's store-branded card (as their Kohl’s 'Yes2You' loyalty account is already integrated with that). Otherwise, it's still technically a two-step process, just like it is at Walgreens."
Given how time- and attention-starved those pesky Millennials are, one-step versus two-step could indeed spell the difference between success and failure in the mobile payments world. Watch this space as both retailers roll out loyalty integration - we'll keep you posted as to how they fare.