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Google to Add Loyalty Rewards to Android Pay, Ramp Up Promotional Push

More than 60 percent of Android Pay card holders never used Google Wallet.

The Verge

Six weeks into its life, Android Pay has tacked on a million-plus account holders, the bulk of whom never tried Google’s prior stab at mobile payments. But Google is plowing in marketing money to get more.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s SVP of ads and commerce, shared the first figures on the mobile payments service since its September launch at the Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas on Monday.

They weren’t terribly detailed figures. Ramaswamy said that “millions” of Android owners have linked card information to Android Pay. More than 60 percent of them had not used Google Wallet, the earlier payments product that Google swapped out in favor of Android Pay. (Google was always reticent about sharing Wallet user numbers.)

Ramaswamy is planning to announce a new loyalty program coming to Android Pay. It’s starting with Coke: When users buy a soda by tapping their phone — there are some 20,000 NFC-enabled Coca-Cola vending machines out there — they get reward points to buy more Cokes. Marketers are keen on this feature, as it helps them retain customers and track purchasing data. To become popular, mobile payments will need the assistance of these types of rewards services that remind people to pay with their phones.

Google is also going to be offering reminders. The company is teaming with its mobile carrier partners — Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile — to train their sales reps to talk up Android Pay. And Ramaswamy said Google is continuing its marketing drive with card partners — American Express, MasterCard and Visa — and card-issuing banks to raise consumer awareness. Some big banks, however, may be more interested in promoting their own tap-and-pay products.

Banks are blocked from running their own tap-and-pay payments apps on Apple. A year ago, Apple announced it had added one million credit cards to Apple Pay after its first 72 hours.

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