In a sign of things to come for retailers, Walgreens is making it much easier to use its Balance Rewards loyalty card with, Apple's contactless payment system.
Previously, members of the store's loyalty scheme had to scan their Balance Rewards card before making a purchase via Apple Pay, by holding their iPhone near the contactless reader with a finger on the phone's Touch ID fingerprint reader. Now they can simply use their phone orto make payments, collect rewards or use discount coupons.
We got a quick demo at a Walgreens near Union Square in New York. Once you add your Balance Rewards digital card to the Passbook app in iOS 9 -- a 60-second process -- it's automatically linked to your Apple Pay account and you're good to make purchases.
The only small drawback is that making a payment requires two taps of your phone or Apple Watch on the contactless reader. The first one allows the reader to access your Balance Rewards card info, the second allows it to accesses the credit card linked to your Apple Pay account and process the purchase. You can link multiple cards and use whichever one you want.
Other stores are expected to integrate their loyalty programs into Apple Pay, but Walgreens, an early backer of the system, gets to boast that it's the first to do so.
Apple Pay works with the, , , and Apple Watch.