NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--Walgreens has done something ahead of other retailers: integrate its loyalty program with Android Pay "mobile wallet" technology.
A mobile wallet is "a way to carry your credit card or debit card information in a digital form on your mobile device," according to Wells Fargo.
Consumers using Walgreens' "Balance Rewards" loyalty program can now apply their loyalty account at checkout while using Android Pay, the mobile wallet technology championed by Google.
The move extends the convenience of earning and redeeming points, says the company, while expanding the company’s portfolio of unified mobile payments solutions.
Walgreens operates 8,173 drugstores in the country, including three in New Brunswick.
The retailer says it has more than 85 million active Balance Rewards members and that many of them also use Android devices.
“We’re continually looking at ways to enhance the customer experience through” innovation, said Abhi Dhar, Walgreens senior vice president, who said the company was proud to be “the first retailer to integrate our loyalty program” with both Android Pay and Apple Pay.
Apple Pay, a competing mobile wallet service that became available last year, also integrates Balance Rewards.
To maximize purchases, customers should add their Balance Rewards card information to the Android Pay app, which is available through the Google Play Store.
Members will not have to separately scan or enter their Balance Rewards card ID to earn or use their loyalty points.
They simply must hold their Android device near the "PIN pad," which is traditionally used to swipe a credit or debit card, twice: first to apply the rewards account, then to pay.
Google’s senior director of product management, Pali Bhat, says the tech giant has collaborated with Walgreens to build Balance Rewards into Android Pay in all its stores.
“We want to make in-store payments simpler for everyone,” says Bhat. “Customers can speed through the entire checkout process in as few as two taps.”
While Android pay provides an additional payment option, customers can also with most standard credit and debit cards, EMV chip credit cards and other mobile wallets, says Walgreens.
Bhat told techcrunch.com that one and a half million users in the U.S. set up Android Pay on their phones every month. “We’re very excited with all the momentum we’ve seen since we launched.”
"Bhat argues that to do this, the company wants to offer 'amazing value' to both users and the rest of the ecosystem, including merchants, banks and developers (for in-app purchases)," writes techcrunch.com.