Android Pay gets improved loyalty features and eases redemption at the point of sale

Android Pay Smart Tap
REDEEMING FEATURES: Android Pay’s Smart Tap technology now gives users enhanced loyalty benefits

Google has unveiled a range of new features for Android Pay designed to make it easier for users to save their loyalty cards to the mobile payment service and use Android Pay’s Smart Tap technology to redeem points and offers at the point of sale through a single tap of their NFC device.

Smart Tap lets customers make use of loyalty cards, gift cards and offers saved to Android Pay by tapping their phones to supporting point-of-sale terminals. The feature is currently “only available to select merchants” but is due to be rolled out “beyond national retailers to businesses of all sizes” through a partnership with POS manufacturer Clover.

The new features come as the mobile payment service prepares to launch in a range of countries including Brazil, Canada, Russia, Spain and Taiwan.

“The Card Linked Offers API drives customer loyalty by providing a new channel to deliver targeted offers, and Panera Bread is one of the first merchants who will roll out this new capability nationally,” Google’s Pali Bhat writes in a blog post.

“MyPanera members who save their loyalty card to Android Pay can discover offers and learn about new menu items, surfaced by Android Pay when they are at the store. The offer is redeemed when you use your MyPanera account at checkout.”

Enhancing integration

“We’re also making it easier for Android Pay users to add loyalty programs,” Bhat adds. “For example, Walgreens Balance Rewards members who manually apply their loyalty account with a phone number and use Android Pay will receive a notification on their phone that easily enables them to link that loyalty card to Android Pay for future visits.

“This experience is powered by our Smart Tap technology, which Walgreens has fully deployed across their 8,000+ US stores.”

“We’re collaborating with Clover — a First Data company — to expand our Smart Tap technology beyond national retailers to businesses of all sizes,” Bhat continues. “With the upcoming integration of Smart Tap in Clover’s developer APIs, you’ll be able to build Android apps for loyalty, coupon and gift card redemption and new features such as order ahead and tap for pick up.”

“At the centre of it all is loyalty,” Google’s director of engineering payment products Varouj Chitilian told attendees during a presentation at Google I/O 2017 this week. “Loyalty is a connection between you, the merchant, and your customers, the user.

“And we’d like to help you with loyalty in three ways — we’d like to help you on, with enrollment; so helping expose your loyalty programs to Android Pay users and sign them up. Two, with engagement; once the Android Pay user has your loyalty card associated in their Android Pay account, being able to push offers to them that are relevant to them, personalised to them.

“And three, we’d like to help you with easy redemption and earning of loyalty points and offers so that, just with a simple NFC tap — what we call a smart tap — the user with Android Pay can submit loyalty and offer information just as easy as they pay today with Android Pay.”