Google announced on Tuesday that it is rolling out a new version of the Google Wallet app for Android devices (2.3+), which comes with new loyalty programs featuring a handful of merchants, with more to come.
The loyalty programs make use of the Google Wallet Objects API launched earlier this year.
"As a merchant, you can now showcase your loyalty program within the app, and have Google Wallet users sign up for your program instantly from their phone," explains Google Wallet group product manager Pali Bhat. "You can also engage your customers in real time no matter where they are, with messaging, loyalty status and rewards balance. And customers can easily redeem their loyalty programs in your stores by simply scanning their phone at checkout. In the coming days, saved programs will show up as a Google Now card when the customer is near one of your stores."
"In addition, if you are a merchant or couponing site, you can connect offers directly from your properties to Google Wallet," adds Bhat. "For example, starting later this week, visitors on Valpak.com can browse offers, save their favorite ones directly to their Google Account and easily redeem in store using the Google Wallet app at checkout. With the Google Wallet Objects API, you also get richer analytical insights to inform your marketing campaigns."
The first set of merchant loyalty programs that are immediately live are from Alaska Airlines, Belly and Red Mango, but the roster will soon include Avis Car Rental, BJ’s Restaurants, Cosi, Hard Rock International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, Raley’s, The Body Shop, SnipSnap, RetailMeNot, Thinaire and Koupon Media.
To add loyalty cards to the new app, users can just scan the barcode or input the card number into the app, and the next time they're in the store, they will earn points by scanning the app at the checkout. Within the app, users can view loyalty status and rewards points.
Another new feature in the app is the ability to send money to friends within the US by email. This follows the recently announced Google Wallet integration into Gmail.
"It’s free to send money directly from your bank account or Google Wallet Balance, and low fees apply when using your linked credit or debit card," says Google Wallet Director of Product Management, Peter Hazlehurst. "And as an added bonus, once you send money with the Google Wallet app, you’ll also get early access to sending money in Gmail from your desktop while we continue to roll out the feature broadly to Gmail users. "
"In addition to your loyalty cards, you can easily carry and use your offers with the Google Wallet app," says Hazlehurst. "No matter where you’ve found your offer - in the Google Maps app, Google Search, Google+ or Google Offers, they’re visible and redeemable in your Wallet app at checkout. And later this week, you’ll also be able to save offers on select merchant and couponing sites such as Valpak. Just show the offer on your app at checkout to redeem it. We’re working with many partners to bring you great offers, and will be adding more soon. It’s saving made simple."
Users of the new app will also be able to see all their purchases made with Google Wallet, including in-store purchases and online mobile purchases.