The mobile wallet app backed by TD Bank Group and PC Financial has been updated to support loyalty cards and been released to Apple Inc.’s iOS platform, Ugo Mobile Solutions LP announced on Monday.
Ugo launched three months ago, offering users of Android or BlackBerry smartphones that support near field communications (NFC) the ability to pay with their phones, simply by tapping it to contactless terminals. So far, the app supports storage of credit card credentials issued by TD and PC Financial. It could also be used to collect PC Plus points, the loyalty program on offer at Loblaws and other President’s Choice businesses.
With the update, Ugo users can now add any loyalty cards they have in their leather wallets to the app. They simply have to point their smartphone’s camera at the bar code on the card and snap a picture.
“You can slim your physical wallet and never miss a points gathering opportunity again,” says Alec Morley, CEO of Ugo. “There’s a clear impulse once you’ve got this functionality to sign up for more loyalty programs because one feels able to manage them.”
Once captured, digital wallet users can just display their smartphone screens at check-out and have their loyalty bar code scanned from the device.
While the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus do have NFC support, the Ugo app made available to iOS can’t be used for payments yet. Users will be limited to storing their loyalty cards on the iOS app. This is because Apple doesn’t allow third-party developer access to its NFC component yet, Morley says.
“Apple has locked down the NFC controller. That’s the Apple way when you think about it; they’re a very closed-down ecosystem,” he says.
With many convenient payment options available to consumers already, mobile wallet adoption is most likely to be driven by convenience factors and easy access to loyalty programs. Morley says he’s looking forward to using the loyalty cards feature on his own Ugo wallet.
“I shop at the LCBO quite a bit, and I’ve been turning down Air Miles for quite awhile. But now I’ll add it to my wallet and start accepting them,” he says.
The approach to adding any loyalty card by taking a photo fits the theme of Ugo’s open strategy. While Apple’s PassBook offers the option to store loyalty cards as well, it only works with pre-approved partners working with Apple. Morley points out his app will work with any loyalty program.
Apple Pay is emerging as a major player in the mobile wallet market south of the border, but there is no support for it in Canada as of yet and no official plans have been announced to do so.