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Apple's Mobile Payments Initiative May Include Rewards Program

passbook-heroApple may be developing a rewards program as part of its mobile payments initiative, reports Bank Innovation. Apple is reportedly working on a pilot program that will see it developing partnerships with multiple retailers, which goes hand in hand with several previous loyalty program rumors. A proprietary rewards program could give Apple a way to distinguish itself from other mobile payment services.

According to sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, the company has been in talks with InterContinental Hotels Group (seemingly incorrectly referred to as "IGH International" in the report), a global hotel chain, about a possible partnership for a loyalty program and has been hiring to fill positions related to the pilot program, which may be built into iTunes.

Bank Innovation specifically points towards an Apple job opening seeking a "Senior World Wide Partner Marketing Manager," who will create programs and training materials for "external partners" and who will focus on driving customer adoption of "existing and new features." Other similar job postings also hint at the development of a major program focused on third-party partnerships, which may be a loyalty program.

The site suggests that the company is just now beginning to hire for the division, which means a possible loyalty program is unlikely to be available right when its payments service launches.
Sources close to Apple say the company has just started hiring for this division, and that, before the recent high-profile iCloud hack, the plan was to announce the pilot on Tuesday along with Apple's other announcements. That very well may happen, or the announcement could be postponed until a later date -- when more deals are in place and the mainstream media moves on from the iCloud cyberattack. Since Apple's hiring for positions for this program now, but we don't expect this program to be fully ready in the near future.
If a rewards program is indeed in the works, it appears to be in the early stages. There's no word yet on the scope of the program or how it might work, but more information may be revealed tomorrow, when Apple unveils its mobile payments initiative for the first time.

Rumors about Apple's payment plans have been leaking out in recent weeks, and the company has reportedly signed deals with major credit card companies including Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, as well as major credit card issuers. Apple is also said to be partnering with multiple retailers for the service, including Walgreens, CVS, and Nordstrom.

Apple's payment service is said to rely on NFC, which will be built into both the iPhone 6 and Apple's upcoming wearable device. It will also integrate with Touch ID for security purposes, and it will take advantage of tokenization to provide additional security and to prevent theft.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

Top Rated Comments

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60 months ago

Let's hope we can use this also in Apple's secondary markets in not too long time. We had to wait several years for other services such as iTunes movies, match and iRadio.

Canadian still waiting for iTunes Radio here.
Rating: 11 Votes
60 months ago
Rating: 9 Votes
60 months ago
My body is ready.

Wait, am I doing this right?
Rating: 7 Votes
60 months ago
iTunes gift vouchers would work for me.
Rating: 6 Votes
60 months ago
Not to mention that Apple can use the payment transaction data to justify charging advertisers more for their targeted iAds... just as they already do with iTunes purchase info.

Apple. The new Google.
Rating: 6 Votes
60 months ago
loyal to the bank...

"Can't build loyalty anymore, my ass!" - Phil Schiller

Rating: 4 Votes
60 months ago

Remember when Apple used to make computers?

Rating: 4 Votes
60 months ago

Gosh I can't remember the last time I saw an iAd on any of my iOS devices. I think it was when playing scrabble because I refuse to give them $10 to remove ads.

I don't even know what an iAd is. Does ios have obnoxious advertisements like android does sometime? Never seen it once on my ipad
Rating: 3 Votes
60 months ago

Apple may need rewards partners to grow the program, but they already have many cool products/services in house.

If I use this mobile payment service (that is if it's available at locations I use in Canada), then they could easily incentivise the program with iTunes credits, beats products .... or hell if I spend enough on the service, my iPhone 6S should be discounted?

I think we're seeing two different things conflated in this article.

From APPLE'S point of view, presumably they have some sort of goal where they want people to use their payments system. (The end point is probably something like a Bank of Apple, where I'm essentially using the equivalent of an Apple credit card; but the system launched this year will probably be more like the existing iTunes system which is based on my current credit card).

OK, so Apple have a problem. It may be cool to use my iPhone, iWatch and fingerprint together to buy something BUT when I use my existing credit card I get 1% cash back. If Apple can't match that, they're not of any interest except occasionally to amaze my stupider friends.
Which means that one part of a Rewards system is that they need to give me something that I consider at least as valuable as 1% cash back (or airline miles or Amazon point, or whatever your credit card gives you). The obvious way to do this would be Apple points that I can spend in either the Apple store or the iTunes store.

Meanwhile there is the other side of the equation, the merchant side. Apple want to give merchants some incentive to go to the hassle of supporting the system. IF they can (more or less) guarantee less fraud and overhead, that may be compelling enough for some use cases (like internet shopping) that the product sells itself. For other purposes, you want an additional gimmick and that seems to be what this post is about. Apple can for example, say that if you partner with us, then using our payment system at your hotel users will earn double Apple points, which (presumably) steers users to the hotel chain --- but the hotel chain can only cash in if they're set up to handle Apple payments.
Again you're probably aware of this sort of gimmick if you read the fine print of your card closely. Especially if your card is one that pays you in airline miles, it probably has these sorts of double points agreements with hotel chains, restaurants, auto rentals, and other travel type businesses.


I bet this is US only for the first few years (except for a few American international companies, like Apple, plus the hotel chains mentioned).

Seriously, have the scrapped plans for iTunes Radio in the UK?

They've scrapped plans for iTunes Radio even in the US.
Expect a Beats radio at some point, I imagine.


Remember when Apple use to just make computers?.....

(a) You mean mainframes? No, I don't remember that.

(b) A computer is what *I* say a computer is.

(c) Apple changed its official name on January 9, 2007 from Apple Computer Inc to Apple Inc. Why do you think they did that?
Rating: 3 Votes
60 months ago

Funny how not even a week ago this site was filled with people saying NFC was garbage, that Androids have had it for years and it isn't taking off. Now suddenly people have nothing but great things to say about the technology.

What's funnier is you drawing conclusions from the opinions of different people to bundle them as one.
Rating: 2 Votes

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