Google, Apple Duke it Out in Mobile Wallet Loyalty Battle

Even though Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is making gains in mobile loyalty with Google Wallet, Apple Passbook is still the industry veteran and leader in the space, some analysts say. Google Wallet recently got a boost when Orbitz (NYSE: OWW) chose Google Wallet for its new rewards program, which enables users to earn rewards at a higher rate for hotel bookings made from its mobile apps than booking through other channels. Orbitz’s rewards program is fully integrated with the Google Wallet loyalty feature for both Android and iOS. However, for retailers that want to engage shoppers via their loyalty programs, Apple Passbook should be their first choice, consultants say. “Passbook has been out longer, and they have the benefit of when they update the iOS, everyone gets it,” Alex Campbell, co-founder of mobile marketing solutions firm Vibes, told Mobile Marketer. “If you define leader as number of consumers who have it, then yeah Passbook is in the lead, but obviously it’s not all about that, it’s about usage on the marketing side as well.” Google Wallet updated just a few short months ago, so the service is still catching up with Passbook, Campbell added. Google Wallet just recently opened up the platform for devices that don’t have a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip installed. And, the service lacks support for tickets, gift cards, and boarding passes. For some strange reason, Google Wallet ended support for in-store use of gift and loyalty cards this summer. At the time, Google said it was working with retailers on other options for gift and loyalty card redemption. The move left Google Wallet wide open for domination by Passbook, which is taking the lead in mobile loyalty, Lucas Tieleman, CEO/co-founder of mobile wallet ad firm Fosbury, told Mobile Commerce Daily. “I would say that Apple is taking the lead, mainly because Passbook is pre-installed on every iPhone in the market,” Tieleman said.  “This gives them a gigantic user base and offers consumers a really easy way to get coupons, loyalty cards, tickets, boarding passes and gift cards on the phone.” At the same time, Google Wallet provides the most expansive loyalty offering, according to Tieleman. Consumers can easily enroll in retailers’ rewards programs via Google Wallet and brands can easily promote their card in the app, he added.