Tap Once For Loyalty Card, Twice to Apple Pay

by Tim Sloane 0

This article in MacRumours indicates that the tap twice model announced between Apple and Walgreens is currently not working:

“One of the Apple Pay features touted with iOS 9 was support for new types of cards including store-branded credit cards and loyalty rewards cards from retailers. Just yesterday, department store chain Kohl’s became the first retailer to launch Apple Pay support for its store-branded credit card, and it now appears Walgreens is preparing to launch support for its Balance Rewards loyalty rewards program.

Balance Rewards members have for some time been able to sign into their rewards accounts using the Walgreens iOS app and add their Balance Rewards numbers to the centralized Passbook/Wallet app. From there, it’s been easy for users to bring up the Walgreens pass to display barcodes that can be scanned at checkout to make sure they receive rewards credit for their purchases.

As noted by several MacRumors readers, however, the Balance Rewards card in the Wallet app is now showing up as supporting NFC via Apple Pay. Double-clicking the iPhone home button to bring up Apple Pay cards offers access to the Balance Rewards pass, where the user is then prompted to authenticate with Touch ID and hold the phone near the NFC terminal at the register. Users can also opt to show a barcode for scanning if needed.

While the interface on the iPhone shows all signs of being ready to use Walgreens Balance Rewards via NFC, we and several readers have been unable to successfully use it in-store, as it appears Walgreens’ payment terminals have yet to be upgraded to accept Balance Rewards using that method. In our testing yesterday, attempting to transmit a Balance Rewards card to the terminal via Apple Pay simply generated an error on the terminal noting the system was requesting a method of payment.

Walgreens Balance Rewards is also showing up as an Apple Pay option on the Apple Watch. Double clicking the side button of the Apple Watch to bring up available payment cards shows a Walgreens card that appears ready to use via NFC but similarly is not accepted by the terminal.”

While the roll out may take a few months, this technique will ultimately work at Walgreens and many other merchant locations, but does not yet meet the desired state of a single tap for both Loyalty and Payment.

Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group

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