Sionic Mobile, a provider of mobile marketing, gifting, payments and rewards programs, has embedded Google Wallet payments into its ION Rewards app.
During an introductory period, consumers can earn double virtual reward currency from Sionic, or two percent of their purchase amount, each time they pay using the "Buy with Google" option.
"We'll have a ready base of consumers who are smartphone savvy and have an interest in paying with their phone," says Ronald Herman, CEO of Sionic.
This in-app payment method is a software-based approach. Sionic rejected the idea of using Near Field Communication (NFC) chips, which Herman describes as "an inhibitor."
Cloud-delivered mobile payments operate on more carriers and devices than NFC, which is omitted from popular handsets such as the iPhone.
Following each checkout completed with a smart phone device, Google Wallet users are rewarded with Sionic's virtual reward currency, IONs, which can be used like cash within a network of Sionic's merchants, including Bass Pro Shop, Lowe's, GameStop, Papa Johns and Staples. There are about 28,000 locations in Sionic's network, Herman says.
"You can buy something at Bass Pro Shops, earn IONs, and then buy a pizza at Papa Johns in the same outing," Herman says.
Sionic does not place limits or restrictions on when and how IONs can be redeemed. IONs do not expire and the consumer controls redemption, so points earned from one retailer can be gifted to other consumers or redeemed at a different store.
Sionic has similar in-app payment relationships with Dwolla and E-Check, and plans to enable payments and redemption via Visa's V.me digital wallet in the next few weeks, Herman says.
Google did not make an executive available for an interview by deadline. Google Wallet has undergone a number of updates over the past couple of years in an effort to improve access and usability, including the addition of Host Card Emulation to bypass many of the limitations of NFC for contactless payments.