Google wants to make its six-week-old mobile payments service sticky, but to do so it has to find ways to incentivize users to keep returning to the app rather than using a competing offering — or simply reverting to more traditional methods, such as credit card or cash.
Android Pay, launched in early September in the U.S. to take on Apple Pay, will soon include new loyalty programs for brands like Coca-Cola. That’s according to comments made by Google’s SVP of ads and commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, at the Money20/20 event in Las Vegas on Monday (via Re/code).
Apple introduced the ability to store loyalty cards in Apple Pay at WWDC 2015 back in June, and the offering now includes popular retailers like JC Penney, Kohl’s, Walgreens, and Dunkin’ Donuts. (In fact, Android Pay has offered the option for users to store loyalty cards since it launched — “Android Pay also stores your gift cards, loyalty cards, and special offers right on your phone,” Google said in a release note at the time.)
But that’s slightly different from the Coca-Cola partnership being suggested here.
The way Android Pay is initially expected to work with Coca-Cola purchases is through the brand’s NFC-enabled vending machines, which allow users to tap their smartphone to the payment point and accumulate loyalty points in the process — earning them the privilege of redeeming a free coke at some future point. Yipee.
Obviously this is a baby step for Google, but what it could become further down the line with more partners on board is the more interesting take-away here. Specifics of how this program will be implemented with Coca-Cola within the app are still not clear.
There hasn’t been an official announcement from Google, as such, about the loyalty program, but comments coming from Ramaswamy at a major fintech conference are not to be lightly discarded. This is definitely close to being rolled out.
Google still hasn’t said how many users have linked their credit cards to Android Pay since its launch last month, but Ramaswamy did say it was in the “millions.” Yes, that’s basically a vague and useless number. By comparison, some 200 million users in China have now linked their credit cards up to WeChat’s mobile payments service, as of the latest numbers.
In any case, Google is clearly getting more aggressive with its push to see Android Pay widely adopted following its pivot from Google Wallet, which has been reduced to a peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile payments app.