This Week in Next-Gen Shopping: Apple’s Passbook, Laying Groundwork for a Digital Wallet?By Kadley Gosselin September 18, 2012
Apple’s mobile ticket and voucher storage app, Passbook, will become available with the launch of iOS 6 this week. It will largely function as a meatier version of brand loyalty and coupon apps like KeyRing or Cardstar but, going further, it will also serve as a ticket holder, a payment platform (in some cases) and, most importantly, a new kind of B2C messaging platform.
What Passbook Does
- Stores and organizes all tickets, loyalty cards, vouchers and coupons in one central location
- Serves as a “digital wallet” in that users can pay with their Passbook if they’re storing gift cards or pre-loaded payment cards (e.g., a Starbucks card) there
- Displays appropriate ticket or voucher on the lock screen whenever the device is in close physical proximity to offline retail stores and other brand-relevant locations (e.g., mobile boarding passes will appear on your iPhone’s lock screen when you arrive at the airport, your BestBuy gift card will pop up when you walk by a BestBuy location, etc.)
- Alerts users of important related information (e.g., if your gate changes at the airport after you’ve checked in for your flight, Passbook will notify you that you’ll need to move, if your BestBuy gift card is going to expire tomorrow then you’ll receive an alert, etc.)
- Serves as a gateway for targeted brand communications
A New B2C Messaging System
Passbook will provide brands with a new channel through which to send highly relevant, time- and location-based messaging to their users. It will also create a new avenue for driving in-store traffic, by providing coupons that need to be redeemed through in-store purchases or by reminding customers that their coupon or gift card will expire. And Passbook resides in a device that millions of consumers are already familiar with and using constantly— in other words, Passbook eliminates the need to download dozens of brand-specific apps, removing hassle (and increasing usage). That said, businesses would do well to take a thoughtful (and creative) approach to Passbook’s time and location integration, favoring relevance and personal value over volume and spam.
A Step Towards the Digital Wallet?
Many participants in our own Next-Gen Retail study told us that they’d like functionality similar to Passbook. (Some of our participants’ ideas are detailed in this related infographic. The full study findings will be available this fall—sign up to be notified by e-mail when they’re available.)
While it lacks NFC, Passbook will surely serve as a way for people to get comfortable and practiced with a technology that’s similar to a digital wallet. Already developers are hard at work writing and designing apps to enhance experiences with Passbook, such as Loyaldash, which will keep track of points amongst loyalty programs and available upgrades, adding a deeper layer of organization and efficiency to Passbook’s existing value.
Header image courtesy of mroach.