Balance Rewards loyalty program to integrate with Apple Pay this fall
Also on Monday, the drug chain announced that its Balance Rewards loyalty program will integrate with Apple Pay, Apple’s secure mobile payment system.
The Walgreens App for Apple Watch aims to assist patients in managing their medications, whether it’s a simple, once-daily reminder or multiple complex drug regimens. The chain’s Apple Watch app connects with the user’s Pill Reminders feature in the Walgreens iPhone app, and Apple’s “actionable alerts” allow the user to mark a medication as taken or skipped, as well as view which medications might have been missed or may be taken next, according to Walgreens.
Meanwhile, Refill Reminders indicate when medication may be running low and offer users a one-touch method to initiate a refill. The user will receive a follow-up notification when the prescription is ready for pickup, Walgreens said.
Starting this fall, Apple Pay will provide immediate access to Balance Rewards without members having to separately scan their Balance Rewards card. Members of the loyalty program will be able to earn and redeem Balance Rewards points via Apple Pay.
Users can add the Balance Rewards digital card to the Wallet app in Apple’s iOS 9 mobile operating system and seamlessly use it at checkout with Apple Pay. Members hold their iPhone near the contactless reader with a finger on iOS’ Touch ID, and the rewards information will be sent. With Apple Watch, users double-click the side button, select their Balance Rewards card, and hold the face of Apple Watch up to the reader.
In addition, Balance Rewards members will be able to view their current rewards points balance via Apple Pay. The ability to view points directly from the surfaced card provides easier access to loyalty points at checkout and enables users to see how much they can redeem, Walgreens noted.
“Walgreens apps and services are designed to provide customers with ultimate access, choice and convenience. We want to help remove friction and make the customer experience as simple as possible,” Sona Chawla, president of digital and chief marketing officer at Walgreens, said in a statement. “Whether that’s launching new wearables technology that promotes adherence and proper health regimens or making it easier, safer and more private to redeem Balance Rewards points through mobile payments with Apple Pay, we want to help customers manage their lives.”
In stores, Apple Pay works with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch.
Walgreens’ announcement came as Apple announced broader support rewards programs and store-issued credit and debit cards for iOS 9, the next version of its mobile operating system. The tech giant said Monday that Apple Pay will expand merchant acceptance to over 1 million locations next month and bring support for Discover this fall.
With those additions, Apple Pay will accept credit and debit cards across all major card networks, issued by the most popular banks, representing 98% of all U.S. credit card purchase volume, Apple reported.
“We’re bringing our customers the most-requested features with support for rewards and store-issued cards and expanding how and where Apple Pay is accepted, which truly transforms the way people pay,” stated Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services.
Beginning this fall with iOS 9, Passbook will evolve to become Wallet, which Apple said will provide more options at checkout with Apple Pay support for rewards and store-issued credit and debit cards. Users will be able to easily add participating rewards and store-issued cards to the Wallet app and seamlessly use them at checkout with Apple Pay.
Along with the 80 million-plus active members of the Walgreens Balance Rewards program, Kohl’s Department Stores will begin rolling out Apple Pay to its 30 million Yes2You Reward program members. Other companies bringing rewards programs to Apple Pay users include Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Donuts, Panera Bread and Wegmans Food Markets. Also, store-issued cards available to Apple Pay users will include BJ’s Wholesale Club, Kohl’s and JCPenney, with more to come, Apple said.
Apple Pay launched last October with 200,000 locations in the United States. Some of the new merchants accepting Apple Pay in stores this year include Baskin Robbins, Best Buy, BevMo!, Big Lots, Dunkin’ Donuts, El Pollo Loco, Express, Forever 21, JCPenney, Johnny Rockets, Kohl’s, LEGO Brand Retail, Levi’s, Peet’s Coffee, Trader Joe’s and White Castle.
Besides Apple’s U.S. retail stores, Walgreens and Duane Reade, retailers that supported Apple Pay upon its launch included Bloomingdale’s, Disney Store, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Sephora, Staples, Subway and Whole Foods Market.