Walgreens, Synchrony to launch cobranded credit card with digital focus

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Walgreens is collaborating with Synchrony to launch a cobranded credit card with an eye on the convergence of digital tools for spending and health care.

A digital version of the contactless Mastercard will connect directly to the Walgreens store app for purchases, account and loyalty program management, with accelerated rewards available for spending through the cobranded card, the companies said Wednesday.

Walgreens also plans to add Mastercard-branded prepaid debit cards and other financial services related to health care payments, the release said.

“As we continue to focus on creating new revenue streams, we look forward to exploring and introducing even more health and well-being payment initiatives in the near future,” John Standley, Walgreens' president, said in a press release.

Teaming with Synchrony, which has developed robust technology to support digital-first card technology including the all-digital Venmo Visa card rolling out this year, could be a plus given Walgreens’ evolving strategy to move more customer interactions to mobile devices.

Walgreens in November 2020 abruptly ended its long-running Balance Rewards loyalty program, relaunching and renaming it myWalgreens. The 100 million-member app enables users to link any payment method, includes live pharmacy chat features and the ability to find and book medical care and vaccination appointments.

Walgreens may have been inspired to deepen its digital payments game from its experience with the Apple Card, which launched in 2019.

The Deerfield, Ill.-based drugstore chain is one of a handful of merchants where Apple Card customers can instantly earn 3% cash back via Apple Pay for all purchases, including prescriptions.

Walgreens plans to roll out the Synchrony card in the second half of this year, and the company is also looking into tapping Mastercard’s other capabilities for customer engagement and point of sale installments, the release said.

Synchrony already provides various merchants with specialized financing for health care and veterinary services.

“Walgreens champions the health and well-being of communities and with our technology and health care financing expertise, we will join forces to create convenience payment solutions and digital experiences to help customers pay for their health and wellness purchases,” Brian Doubles, Synchrony’s president, said in the release.

“We are proud to be teaming up with Walgreens to further connect their customers to the digital economy and enhance consumer health and pharmacy experience through our differentiated technology and established role in health care," Linda Kirkpatrick, president of Mastercard North America, said in the release.

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