Here’s What People Don’t Get About Apple Pay: It’s Not Just Changing Payments

Apple pay purchase at disney store

Apple Pay has already started transforming how people pay for things, but it’s going to upend another huge industry too —  marketing.

“Apple announcing Apple Pay was a wakeup call for marketers,” said Jack Philbin, CEO of Vibes, a mobile marketing company that works with Passbook and Google Wallet.

If you think Apple Pay is only about payments, you’re not alone. UBS recently noted that Apple Pay (unlike Google Wallet) doesn’t let you “push” offers to people, and speculated that flaw would keep some merchants away from the platform.

Philbin disagrees because Apple already has a way for merchants to push these offers: Passbook. 

“The marketing is done through Passbook,” said Philbin. “Apple Pay is just the payment functionality.”

Passbook has been around since 2012. What’s changed is that iPhone users are paying a lot more attention to their mobile wallets now that there’s an easy way to pay for things from their phones as well.

Vibes’ clients —  which include retailers like Gap, The Home Depot, and Bloomingdales —  saw a 54% increase in people installing coupons or loyalty cards into Passbook from September to October, which Philbin attributes to the introduction of Apple Pay.

“Nothing is more powerful that having your brand alongside someone’s credit card in your wallet,” said Philbin.

Starbucks has been taking advantage of Passbook for years. The company lets you store your Starbucks loyalty card on Passbook. Since Passbook knows your location, your card will appear on your lock screen when you’re near one of Starbucks’ stores. All you have to do is collect the rewards.

Passbook can also be used with digital coupons. There are basically three ways companies can send coupons to their customers: text messages, email, and QR codes on direct mail or in other places. All three methods use a link that let people add a coupon to their Passbook.

Once each coupon is added, you can forget about it. Coupons in Passbook are location-aware. If you add a Walgreens coupon it will only show up on your lock screen when your phone knows it’s near one of the company’s stores.

“The phone is doing the hard work for you,” said Philbin.

And people are much more likely to pay attention to their phones now that they can use them to pay for things at these stores.