In the world of retail payment technology, the line between who did something first and who did it second can get a little blurry.
9to5Mac is among a number of outlets to have reported this week that Kohl’s is the first retailer to integrate Apple Pay with rewards points … but it also said essentially the same thing about Walgreens back in November.
What’s less disputed is the fact that Kohl’s was the first retailer to launch Apple Pay capability specifically for its store-branded credit card, an integration that went live in late Oct. 2015 (with the plan having been first announced in June of that year). That Walgreens announced its loyalty-specific integration into the mobile wallet less than a week later (Nov. 5) seems now, in hindsight, to muddy the perspective on the timeline a bit.
With both retailers now having their loyalty programs linked with Apple Pay — and neither transaction requiring the consumer to open an app, other than the mobile wallet, to both pay for the purchase and get credit for it on her loyalty account — the distinction appears to be that, in Walgreens case, it’s a two-step process within Apple Pay — loyalty card, then credit card — while Kohl’s consumers only need to interface with the store’s NFC reader once … provided their method of payment is the Kohl’s store-branded card (as their Kohl’s “Yes2You” loyalty account is already integrated with that). Otherwise, it’s still technically a two-step process, just like it is at Walgreens.
The point is: Both Kohl’s and Walgreens have now integrated their loyalty programs with Apple Pay. Answering the question of what retailer was the first to do so is really a game of inches.