Since there is no loyalty program tied to Apple Pay, it has kept the brakes on the rollout of Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) mobile payment system. However this week Walgreens Boots Alliance‘s (NASDAQ:WBA) has become the first retailer to use Apple Pay within their customer loyalty rewards program.
Walgreens’ has over 85 million Balance Rewards members and they can now use their rewards account through Apple Pay without scanning a rewards card or barcode to make a purchase.
Apple Pay, which was introduced in September 2014 as part of Apple’s iPhone 6 rollout, uses near-field communications (NFC) to interact with payment readers.
The service is very easy to use and it let’s consumers pay by swiping their iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad tablets and other devices.
In mid-October, only about 20% of U.S. retail locations have NFC-equipped sales terminals. So this type of service accounted for just 1% of all U.S. retail transactions, according to a Bloomberg report.
Apple Pay currently competes with Google parent Alphabet ‘s Android Pay, Samsung Pay and others, and works with most credit cards, including those from American Express,MasterCard and Visa .
Since shoppers’ cards never ever leave their wallets or purses, it’s seen as more secure than credit card transactions.
Starbucks announced last month that Apple Pay will come to its stores by the end of this year. However most analysts agree that its customers may stick with Starbucks’ own app to earn reward points and perks through Starbucks’ loyalty program. The points not only add up to free coffee and food, it also allows a free beverage on your birthday and access to weekly freebies via iTunes.