Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) has enabled Apple Pay to work with its Balance Rewards program so that shoppers can eliminate the need to swipe or scan to access their account.
Walgreens was among the first retailers to accept Apple Pay, the mobile wallet for iOS devices. Now it claims to be the first retailer to integrate a loyalty program. The feature was not available when Apple Pay launched last year and was added with the latest operating system, iOS 9 last month.
Now rewards members can add the account to their Apple Wallet. Instead of first scanning a card or a barcode at checkout, shoppers can simply pay with Apple Pay and the rewards information will automatically be accessed and points credited to the user's account. Balance Rewards now boasts 85 million active rewards members.
Apple Pay works with near field communication (NFC), so users just tap to pay at an NFC enabled terminal while holding their finger on Touch ID for authentication. The payment is secure and, using tokenization, creates a different digital ID for each transaction to protect against fraud.
"We're excited to be the first to provide our customers with increased ease of access to their Balance Rewards account and information when using Apple Pay," said Sona Chawla, president of digital and chief marketing officer at Walgreens. "This offering supports our commitment to removing friction and enabling a simple and convenient customer experience."
Walgreens has invested heavily in digital initiatives, particularly in pharmacy. The retailer launched a feature that lets pharmacy customers scan a prescription label to order a refill. The retailer now receives one refill order from a mobile device nearly every second of the day. The retailer's app drives close to 5.3 million store visits each week.
Walgreens announced last week it would acquire Rite Aid, which will add more than 4,600 stores to its network.
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