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MasterCard, PGA boost Apple Pay’s profile with inclusion at tournament

Apple Pay on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available to MasterCard customers for select food and beverage concession purchases at the tournament, which starts Thursday at TPC Scottsdale, near Phoenix, AZ. The move, a first for the PGA Tour, is of a piece with MasterCard’s early and strong support of Apple Pay since its launch last fall.

“The ability to deliver reliable, convenient and secure technologies on the personal devices consumers rely on is quickly becoming central to the fan experience,” said Matt Barr, group head for U.S. emerging payments with MasterCard, Purchase, NY. “The PGA tournament environment is ideal for contactless payments, including Apple Pay, as it gets fans through checkout quickly and back to the action on the green.

“We want people to feel good about their choice to be a MasterCard cardholder,” he said. “And that comes through in the added value they receive whether it’s the benefits associated with their card, access to innovative payment platforms such as Apple Pay or through surprises aligned with things they are passionate about – such as golf.”

Tour events
Food and beverage concessions near the 16th hole will be contactless enabled through a partnership with Prom Management Group, which provides catering to 38 professional golf tour events.

The tournament experience lends itself well to simple, secure payments because it allows fans to get through concessions and back to the tournament quickly.

Backing Apple Pay from the get-go.

The large crowds the event draws make it an appropriate launching pad for the MasterCard-PGA Apple Pay initiative.

“Tournament crowds tend to have a high prominence of connected device holders amongst them who rely on those devices to enhance their experience while enjoying the tournament,” Mr. Barr said.

“As a result, this makes this venue a great place for mobile payment technology and social interaction. Bring those pieces together and it is the ideal place for us to enable contactless acceptance.”

The PGA Tour, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, is the world’s premier membership organization for touring professional golfers. Co-sanctioning more than 130 tournaments, its events are broadcast to more than 1 billion households in 225 countries and territories in 32 languages.

The Waste Management Open will be broadcast on the Golf Channel.

MasterCard has pushed its alliance with Apple in a series of advertisements spotlighting the e-wallet service. The campaign began in 2012 with the start of the World Series, and also delved into pop culture with an ad featuring performer Gwen Stefani.

MasterCard rivals Visa and American Express were also Apple Pay launch partners. Participating banks include American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo, along with a host of local credit unions.

Apple Pay support for contactless transactions is available only in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple Pay is expected to help mobile wallets gain some market traction, but the sector should find more solid acceptance among consumers with the integration into merchants’ loyalty programs.

The PGA Tour is no stranger to mobile. Its PGA Tour mobile application lets consumers follow the action from a single app, available for free from the PGA Tour. The app features a real-time leaderboard with player scorecards, profiles and video.

It includes course detail with hole layouts, descriptions and live statistics for each hole and features push notifications for following players.

Leveraging Apple Pay will increase convenience for highly engaged professional golf fans and tournament patrons.

Proximity payments –those made with a smartphone at the point of sale in place of a credit card or cash – totaled $1.6 billion in the U.S. in 2013, according to eMarketer. That figure was expected to more than double in 2014 to $3.5 billion and jump significantly to $27.5 billion by 2016.

Financial institutions
Through its partnerships with financial institutions, Apple claims that Apple Pay now supports credit cards representing approximately 90 percent of credit card purchases in the United States.

Bringing mobile payments to PGA action.

“We’ve partnered with the PGA Tour for several years now and are continually seeking new opportunities to enhance the spectator experience,” Mr. Barr said. “Whether you enjoy playing a round or watching your favorite golfers compete through the PGA Tour, we want to bring you closer to the game.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York