Apple Pay's next phase thinks outside the app

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To fuel growth, Apple's mobile wallet needs to go beyond its core use cases of NFC and in-app payments. Apple Pay's latest project leans more heavily on NFC to do work typically handled by apps.

To break down some of its barriers, Apple is introducing shortcuts like NFC tags and instant enrollment for retailers’ loyalty programs without needing to download a retailer app, said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of internet services.

Using NFC tags printed on merchandise, parking meters and rentable electric scooters, Apple is eliminating the app-enrollment process for certain merchants including apparel maker Bonobos, parking-meter management firm PayByPhone and electric scooter company Bird, Bailey said during a keynote address at the Electronic Transactions Association’s meeting in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The process leverages “Core NFC,” enabling an iPhone to scan an NFC tag that launches an app or a website, so users can skip the step of downloading an app when accessing a new service, Bailey explained.

“There’s no app requirement and no requirement to pre-sign up,” Bailey said, describing how Bird is using the technology in a pilot, with Apple Pay’s “pay load” automatically working to establish the account information to set up a one-time purchase.

“It’s so much easier for new users to get into these services very quickly,” Bailey said.

PayByPhone is testing the same approach by adding NFC tags to parking meters in San Francisco, she said.

Bonobos—which uses its retail stores as showrooms with no inventory for online ordering—is adding NFC tags to merchandise so consumers can order items for shipment immediately after trying them on in stores.

Apple is also working to streamline the loyalty program enrollment process for retailers, and is already working with a handful of merchants. Dairy Queen, Dave & Buster’s and Caribou Coffee’s network of coffee and bagel outlets will launch the instant-enrollment process for their rewards programs this year, according to Bailey.

Paytronix has also built an Apple Pay-based instant-enrollment process for Panera Bread, Yogurtland and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches currently in test, and Jimmy John’s will expand it from 44 stores to 2,800 this year, Bailey said.

Punchh is another one of the loyalty-tech firms working with Apple on the instant-enrollment initiative; First Data, Worldpay, Verifone and Ingenico also are providing technology for various participating merchants, she said.

It’s worth noting that Google is also enabling many of the same services, including with some of the same merchants, but Apple appears to be leaning on several retailers to accelerate usage.

Campuses are another area where Apple is working to embed Apple Pay across broad services through its new student ID solution, Bailey said. Six universities including the University of Alabama are pushing broad acceptance across campuses for accessing buildings and paying for services ranging from food to laundry and library fees, she said. Several more colleges will add the solution this year, according to Bailey.

Apple has already announced initiatives to add one-tap transit payments via Apple Pay with major public transit operators. The company’s “Express Transit” system, enabling one-tap payments, is active in Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo and this month Portland, Ore. and New York City will add it, Bailey said. Chicago will add the approach later this year, she added.

“It’s not just about tapping in and out—it’s a complete end-to-end commuter experience that can be digital. You can buy and add transit card in your wallet, and in many cities you can calculate the fare and get transaction notifications for balance changes, with the option to top up,” she said.

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