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It was at last month's Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas that Samsung's Haley Kim told Mobile Payments Today about the company's desire to turn Samsung Pay into a mobile wallet that, at its core, is about convenience and loyalty benefits and not necessarily about payments.
Samsung accomplished the convenience part (and made Samsung Pay more versatile) by enabling users to store more than just traditional payment cards in the mobile wallet. This included the ability for users to add retailer gift cards as well as loyalty and memberships cards.
At Money20/20, Samsung announced the availability of a nearby deals feature that gives consumers the opportunity to benefit from discounts wherever they go, Kim said.
On Monday, Samsung Pay took another step forward as the most well-rounded mobile wallet on the market with its announcement of the upcoming availability of a system-specific loyalty program called Samsung Rewards.
Android Pay and Apple Pay both lack such a program.
Samsung Pay users enrolled in the rewards program will earn points for every Samsung Pay transaction and eventually will have the opportunity to redeem their stash for retailer gift cards, prepaid Samsung Rewards Visa gift cards, Samsung products and more, according to a press release.
"As we enter the new year, and look to the future of mobile payments, we want to build on the success of Samsung Pay by giving new users even more reasons to try it out — not to mention, thank our existing customers for using a service they already love," Nana Murugesan, vice president and general manager of services and new business at Samsung Electronics America, wrote in a company blog post accompanying the announcement. "That's why we're excited to offer Samsung Pay users a first-of-its-kind rewards program for a mobile payments platform: Samsung Rewards."
Samsung will launch the loyalty program later this week.
The company’s decision to introduce a mobile wallet-specific loyalty program comes at a time when industry observers are pleading for mobile payments providers to place rewards centerstage in order to drive increased consumer adoption.
"The perception of getting a bargain is maybe the most compelling carrot for driving consumer behavior in general — and mobile payments are no exception," Tim Spenny, vice president of financial services consulting at GfK Research, wrote last month in a blog post about Kohl's Pay. "Combining a loyal customer base with attractive offers, via coupons, has worked well for Starbucks – and Kohl's is betting it can do the same."
While Spenny's comment was directed toward retailer-specific programs, the Pays have faced difficulty growing their user base. The industry views rewards as a way to reverse that trend.
Samsung Rewards is structured like a typical credit card rewards program with a few bonuses here and there.
"You can get even more points through limited-time bonus offers," Murugesan wrote. "Samsung Rewards will partner with retailers and small businesses and give users seasonal opportunities to earn additional points — anyone who joins Samsung Rewards in November or December, for example, will receive double points on purchases made in those months.
"Users can then redeem their points for Samsung products, vouchers for Samsung.com, Samsung Rewards Visa Prepaid Card value, and gifts cards to some of the country's leading retailers. Users can also be eligible for additional prize giveaways — called 'Instant Wins' — that include things like trips to Napa Valley and Las Vegas that surprise and delight."
Samsung Rewards will also feature user tiers.
For instance, a user who completes five Samsung Pay transactions in one month will achieve "silver" status and earn twice the points for transactions using Samsung Pay. Twenty monthly transactions gets the user to "gold" status, which awards triple points; 30 monthly Samsung Pay transactions puts a user in the "Platinum" tier earning quadruple points, according to the announcement.