Urban Airship becomes first mobile wallet provider to offer single-tap loyalty rewards with Apple Pay
This allows a user to update loyalty rewards with the same tap to pay, or sign up with a second tap.
Mobile engagement provider Urban Airship took another step this week toward making the mobile wallet into a full-fledged marketing channel, by offering a service where loyalty cards can be updated via a single tap with Apple Pay.
The Portland, Oregon-based company says it is the first wallet provider to offer this capability, although some brands, such as Walgreens, had offered it in one-off implementations.
Previously, Director of Product Marketing Judy Chan told me, a user might have a loyalty card on a smartphone barcode-scanned at the cash register when paying. To join, the user might have filled out a paper form or entered information letter-by-letter into a form on the screen.
Now, her company’s Urban Airship Reach service — which helps brands with loyalty passes, concert tickets and boarding passes for Apple Wallet and Android Pay — is supporting the value-added services industry protocol in Apple Pay.
This allows loyalty information to be sent across Apple Pay with the same tap as payment. The loyalty actions are also offered when the user employs Apple Pay on the web or through an app.
When a loyalty card member taps the iPhone at a physical checkout counter, the Urban Airship-managed loyalty card for a given brand — such as that retailer — is shown in Apple Pay, along with the payment method, such as the chosen credit card. The tap confirms the payment and adds loyalty rewards to the card.
If the user isn’t a member, a pre-populated form is shown. Individual fields can be modified if needed, and the user taps on the register a second time to enroll. This generates a loyalty card, which is added to the Wallet. Here’s Urban Airship’s visualization of the sequence:
But what makes this part of the evolution of the mobile wallet into a marketing channel is what happens next.
The brand can remotely update the loyalty card, send notifications to the phone about new promotions or upcoming expirations, change the graphics or links in the cards of targeted users, and enable the loyalty card to automatically show on the phone’s screen when entering a specific geolocated zone.
In other words, the brand can publish to its cards inside the user’s phone and bring them to the screen when so desired.
A use case might be a movie theater patron who taps to pay and then gets rewards, which can be used toward the purchase of snacks. Or, if the patron bought the movie ticket by cash or credit card and didn’t use the phone, the phone could show the loyalty card when the moviegoer nears the popcorn stand.
This friction-lowering move could dramatically boost the membership of loyalty programs.
Urban Airship points to its August, 2016 survey of 2,000 adults in the US and the UK. It found that 82 percent of respondents were “more likely to join a loyalty program if they automatically enroll at purchase with no forms to complete.”