How Loyalty Programs Boost Mobile Wallets

In the technology market, making the jump from early adoption to the mainstream is the difference between becoming the next iPad and becoming the next Laserdisc. Mobile wallets find themselves in this very position today as a next-gen product in need of a push to reach their tipping point.

Mobile wallets face several hurdles in their transition to the mainstream, including a lack of standardized technology, fears about data security, and established physical payment systems. But there is something that can easily propel their success: integrating loyalty programs.

 Loyalty programs already manage billions of dollars in points and rewards, are extremely popular, and drive more purchases and payments. Isn’t that what mobile wallets want to achieve, too?

Integrating loyalty programs could help propel the adoption of mobile wallets in several ways. These programs, which are familiar to most people, can provide consumer education on how to use mobile wallets. While MP3 technology existed as early as 1993, it needed a popular vehicle—Napster—to  educate consumers on its features and benefits. Loyalty programs are the right vehicle to get consumers comfortable using mobile wallets.

Loyalty programs also provide incentives. Most consumers look for opportunities to earn more loyalty points, and mobile wallets are a better way to earn, track, and burn. If a consumer can leave his or her 22 loyalty cards at home and earn rewards more frequently, it would not only drive mobile wallet adoption, it would drive more mobile spending. Starbucks recently reported  that 14% of its payments come from its mobile app—thanks largely to its loyalty app, which also manages customers’ mobile payments.

Redemption of real-time, location-based offers is also one of the most popular smartphone uses, and 60% of consumers already use their phones to comparison shop, First Data reports. Integrating their loyalty programs into a mobile wallet will give consumers on-the-spot access to the personalized promotions they value.

By educating consumers, adding valuable earning incentives, and enhancing the shopping experience on the devices they’re already using, why wouldn’t mobile wallets want to leverage the financial clout and widespread usage of loyalty programs? According to the latest loyalty program membership numbers, consumers are already taking advantage of loyalty programs.

Christopher Barnard is president of Points, a Toronto-based marketing company.

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