Urban Airship Innovates to Become First Mobile Wallet Provider to Offer Single-Tap Customer Loyalty Rewards with Apple Pay

When it comes to innovation, this year Urban Airship became the first mobile wallet provider to offer single-tap loyalty rewards with Apple Pay.

Mobile wallet contains the ability to store non-payment content to help drive customer engagement (sales, coupons, offers, loyalty cards, passes, etc.) What’s more, mobile wallets create new opportunities: Loyalty cards, digital coupons, sale offers, event tickets, gift cards, ID cards, boarding passes, and reminders.

Loyalty360 caught up with Judy Chan, director of product marketing, Urban Airship Reach, to learn more about the company’s major innovation.

How innovative and revolutionary is the ability to make the mobile wallet a full-fledged marketing channel by offering a service where loyalty cards can be updated via a single tap with Apple Pay?

Chan: People want useful updates from brands without having to download another app, and loyalty programs are a long-established method of encouraging repeat business and driving customer loyalty. From the corner deli to the largest multinational companies, mobile wallets are poised to give people purpose-built mobile experiences that are location-aware, highly visible and addressable. Today, loyalty cards are the No. 1 thing consumers have used within mobile wallets, and loyalty also tops the list of things people want in their mobile wallet. In fact, based on a survey of 2,000 smartphone users, 69 percent are more likely to use a loyalty card if it is on their phone and 73 percent are more likely to join loyalty programs if points and rewards are automatically updated and visible on mobile wallet loyalty cards.

By bringing together loyalty and payment in single-tap experiences through Apple Pay, brands have an easy opportunity to turn transactions into ongoing relationships. The truly revolutionary aspect is the automatic and customer-centric nature of the seconds-long experience. When customers pay with Apple Pay, the brand’s loyalty card can appear on-screen along with their payment credentials and a single-tap handle both payment and loyalty point accrual and redemption. If they aren’t already a loyalty member, they’ll get a lock screen notification encouraging them to join, followed by a pre-filled enrollment form. One notification swipe and a couple of taps, and Urban Airship Reach instantly serves them a personalized mobile wallet loyalty card.

Then the real magic happens. Brands can automate updates to the card so customers always know their reward status or special events, and cardholders can be messaged en masse, or individually, with lock screen notifications. Brands can inform members when they reach new status levels, announce double points day, or extend special birthday rewards. According to Urban Airship’s State of Mobile Wallet Marketing survey, 82 percent of consumers are more likely to join a loyalty program if they don’t have any forms to fill out. This streamlined loyalty-to-payment experience opens the doors to easily grow program membership and attain entirely new levels of efficiency and business impact through the communication opportunities mobile wallet passes offer.
How will this impact customer engagement/customer loyalty to brands that use this?

Chan: Turning a piece of plastic with inaccurate or outdated contact information into a dynamic digital card that’s always at customers’ sides and can alert them on the planet’s most valuable real estate--the smartphone lock screen--will have significant benefits for brands seeking better customer engagement. It offers a hassle-free, frictionless, value-laden experience for customers, which will speed checkout lines for retailers, grow loyalty program membership, improve the accuracy of customer contact information, and unlock new levels of engagement without onerous requirements of building, maintaining and promoting a branded app. This is an ecosystem of capabilities preinstalled on all new devices with Apple Wallet and Android Pay, offering businesses an easy opportunity to form sustained mobile connection with more of their customers. We believe mobile wallet marketing could grow to be as broad reaching as the advent of the email, websites, and apps.

For consumers, who are often choosing which family photos to delete prior to installing another app, mobile wallets offer an easy and purpose-built solution whether it’s coupons, loyalty cards, event tickets or more. Wallet passes are generally 1/1000th the size of an app and we regularly see that only 10 percent to 20 percent of mobile wallet passes are deleted, even after coupon promotions end.

What do you foresee this type of service becoming among loyalty marketers?

Chan: Mobile wallet loyalty programs will enable loyalty marketers to fine tune their personalization and deliver an even more unique experience for every customer. Since passes can be dynamically updated there is literally nothing the customer has to do to have the latest information, offers, and points balances, at their fingertips. Passes can also be coded with store locations or beacon IDs to automatically display when customers are near locations. Together with single-tap loyalty-to-payment more and more customers will seek out brands that provide convenience, utility and an elevated customer experience.

For loyalty marketers, the ability to segment and tag each pass with any data you have on customers’ preferences and behaviors makes for a powerful and personalized mobile engagement channel. It’s also estimated that you can cut 10X-25x of your loyalty card development costs by going from plastic to a mobile wallet. Real-time marketing automation will make individualized 1-to-1 communications scalable with simple rules to trigger notifications on new loyalty status levels reached or for automated communications to targeted segments of pass holders exhibiting specific behaviors.

How has Apple Pay itself evolved and how seamless a process will this be?

Chan: From Passbook to Apple Pay to Apple Wallet, Apple knows mobile payments need to provide customers with utility and value…and not just be another way to pay for things. It took 50 years for credit cards to go mainstream, but the global penetration of smartphones and growing Pay acceptance at merchants means mobile payments adoption will happen much faster.

We live in an “experience economy.” Mobile wallets aren’t about one-time transactions. They’re about sustained engagement with customers over time. Once brands realize the true value they can unlock with loyalty marketing through mobile wallets the requirements for NFC-enabled terminals with VAS support gains a ton of business justification with a direct and very short line toward ROI.

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