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Apple Pay’s latest move expands vending machine presence to loyalty programs

Apple Pay is doubling down on an existing partnership with cashless-vending machine payment platform USA Technologies by integrating its loyalty program into its platform.

The program, named More, will be rolled out to more than 300,000 vending machines worldwide, most of which use USA Technologies’ ePort product, a cashless payment terminal which can accept Apple Pay. After the two fully execute the integration, consumers making a purchase will be able to take advantage of exclusive offers, promotions and discounts toward future purchases at participating self-serve machines connected to USAT’s ePort Connect platform.

“By integrating Apple Pay with USA Technology’s MORE loyalty program, we are now able to get additional visibility into the type of mobile transactions that are occurring (and reward customers appropriately) while significantly streamlining the registration process, improving the consumer experience and allowing self-serve retail operators the power to retarget promotions behind the scenes (i.e if you do laundry at a participating laundromat, you get a free coffee at a nearby kiosk),” said Amelia Powell, senior director of marketing and strategic partnerships at USA Technologies, Inc.

Apple Pay and USA Technologies
USA Technologies plans to roll out the technology to select unattended retail locations nationwide over the coming months, and will be demonstrating the technology at CES 2017.

The move takes Apple Pay and like mobile payment technologies one step closer to full penetration; aside from the standard security concerns, one of the reasons consumers are hesitant to fully pick up mobile payments is that they do not yet offer a full suite of ancillary benefits such as loyalty programs.

Integrating the more platform into Apple Pay would not only expand Apple Pay’s purview, but it would also create a uniquely frictionless loyalty experience. Consumers paying with Apple Pay at participating ePort merchant locations would simply hold their iPhone or Apple Watch to the contactless reader to pay, earn and redeem loyalty points with a single motion if they are already participating in More.

If they are not yet participating in More, they will have the opportunity to instantly enroll and have the digital loyalty card added right to Apple Pay.

In connection with the integration of the More loyalty program with Apple Pay, USAT is collaborating with Urban Airship—a mobile growth company—to bring enhanced consumer marketing solutions to More’s mobile wallet demo.

More was originally designed to provide USAT merchant customers the ability to offer custom rewards and discount offers for products purchased at its ePort-enabled locations. According to USAT: “We believe that many unattended operations have successfully leveraged the program to drive loyalty, encourage repeat business and help our customers gain a greater understanding of consumers’ purchasing preferences to better meet consumer needs.”

Mobile payments
Apple’s mobile payment platform was especially enterprising in the last quarter of 2016, promoting its expansion through holiday partnerships with some major brands, including Lululemon and the New York Times (see story).

Its aggressive expansion is no surprise, however, considering how intense the competition in the mobile payments sector has been as of late. Last month, Chinese mobile payments giant Alipay attempted to spread its influence in a big way by partnering with an Australian payments provider to launch Alipay in the country’s stores (see story).

“In addition to adding loyalty programs, we have found that by just reminding consumers that mobile payments are accepted helps to boost sales,” said Ms. Powell. “USAT conducted a study that shows a 135 percent increase in Apple Pay participation when displaying the slogan ‘Apple Pay is accepted here.’

“The results of the advertising study showed that in addition to mobile wallet participation, operations also saw dramatic gains in overall sales; to be more specific, participants saw a 36.5 percent increase in sales and a 44.6 percent increase in total transactions.” she said. “Also, by offering More with Apple Pay we are giving consumers a loyalty program that complements their lifestyles and even rewards them for using their mobile device to make a payment.

“We expect the More integration with Apple Pay and other mobile payment solutions will not only fuel participation in the loyalty program, but will also make it easier to use Apple Pay for everyday purchases like those made at vending machines, laundromats, self-serve kiosks, parking, etc.”