Telegram Adds Apple Pay Support For Chatbot Payment

What Happened
Encrypted messaging app Telegram has updated its iOS app to add support for Apple Pay for its Bot API, allowing chatbots on its platform to accept payments and complete transactions without leaving the app. Users can now buy a cute handbag, order food deliveries, or hail a cab simply by chatting with one of the bots available on Telegram before authenticating the purchases via TouchID. Telegram first introduced chatbots nearly two years ago, and it is working with Stripe to enable payments. The company also has plans to add support for more localized options so as to support conversational commerce on its platform in global markets.

What Brands Need To Do
While Telegram’s user number pales in comparison to that of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, this Apple Pay integration nevertheless shows a good example for designing a frictionless user experience to facilitate conversational ecommerce. With messaging apps quickly taking over texting and phone calls, especially among the younger generations, it is important that brands keep a close eye on the development of conversational ecommerce and evaluate each platform to determine the ones that they can reach customers with.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building chatbots to reach consumers on messaging interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The NiroBot we built in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: TechCrunch


Starbucks Launches An iMessage App That Let You Text Friends Gift Cards

What Happened
Starbucks is bringing gifting into your text messages with an updated iOS app released on Tuesday. The Seattle-based global coffee chain added a new “Starbucks Gifts” iMessage applet to its mobile app, allowing users send digital gift cards through Apple’s iMessage and pay for them using Apple Pay. Users can choose from a selection of images that fits the occasions and customize the gifted value for the gift card before completing the purchase with Apple Pay. Then the customized gift card is ready to be sent via iMessage.

In addition, the updated Starbucks app come with a few other improvements, such as enhanced push notifications, a revamped mobile order and pay user experience, and a store locator with new filtering options.

What Brands Need To Do
Previously, early-adopting brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and Coach have also developed iMessage app to expand the reach of their mobile apps into texting, but none has bothered to integrate with Apple Pay for a smooth, frictionless user experience like Starbucks is doing now. The payment integration makes it easy and convenient for users to generate gift cards, while he integration with iMessage. creates a more intimate user experience that lends a personal touch to the gifting process. Together, they make for a great branded gifting experience that helps recruit more customers to use its mobile app and elevates Starbucks’ brand equity, Therefore, brands looking to stay connected with mobile customers should take a cue and develop similar initiatives to explore messaging and conversational environments.


Source: 9to5 Mac

Salesforce Launches Commerce Cloud With Apple Pay And “Einstein” Integration

What Happened
Salesforce on Wednesday launched Commerce Cloud, a new marketing tool that integrates assets from Demandware that Salesforce acquired in June. Salesforce is integrating its CRM and other platforms with Commerce Cloud, which also comes with Apple Pay integration as well as predictive analytics and product recommendations powered by its “Einstein” artificial intelligence platform. At launch, the service is already powering 1,800 retail stores for brands such as Adidas, Lands’ End, and Pandora.

What Retailers Should Do
Retailers can use this new cloud-based marketing service to better serve and engage with shoppers. The Apple Pay integration enables retailers to offer one-touch checkout for both online and in-store purchases, creating a frictionless checkout experience while also closing the online-offline attribution loop. The integration with Einstein, on the other hand, adds some analytics and customization features into the mix to make the system more efficient and data-driven.

For more information on how retailers can better utilize customer data to connect with shoppers across various sales channel, check out the Boundless Retail section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: Marketing Land


Walgreens Integrates Digital Coupon Support With Apple Pay

What Happened
Walgreens is making it much easier for shoppers to use digital coupons with Apple Pay. The Deerfield, Illinois-based drugstore chain was one of the first retailers to accept loyalty cards via Apple Pay and has allowed members of its Balance Rewards loyalty program to clip digital coupons from various sources for redemption in stores. Now with a deeper Apple Pay integration, Balance Rewards members will be alerted when they shop online of available digital coupons, which they can clip with one tap and redeem when they check out via Apple Pay in the Walgreens app, on its website, or in stores. The company reported that to date over 135 million digital coupons have been clipped through its app and website.

What Retailers Need To Do
Earlier this month, Walgreens introduced two new APIs, one of which enables third-party apps to access their digital coupons, signaling its intention to expand its support for digital coupons. Now with this Apple Pay integration, the drugstore chain is making coupons a lot more user-friendly to its loyalty program members. The added perks will likely help boost signups and activities for the Balance Rewards program, which can help Walgreens lock in shopper loyalty regardless of where they choose to make the purchase. Other retailers need to take a cue and start making their loyalty programs more accessible across platforms.

For more information on how retailers can effectively reach connected consumers by taking an omnichannel approach, check out the Boundless Retail section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: BusinessWire

Vending Machines See Revenue Increase After Highlighting Apple Pay Support

What Happened
Vending machines advertising their support for Apple Pay are seeing a significant lift in revenues, according to USA Technologies, a company that specializes in cashless vending machine technology. The company reports that it has seen an impressive 89% increase in revenue through contactless purchases at the vending machines running on its ePort Interactive platform, which highlights its Apple Pay support at the point of sale. The company says it has rolled out support for mobile payment to more than 300,000 NFC-equipped machines nationwide.

What Brands Need To Do
Despite making some progress in broadening its availability and gaining traction among early-adopting users, mobile payments have yet to become mainstream. While a recent eMarketer survey found that 24% of U.S. smartphone users used mobile payments in 2015, up from just 12% in 2011, market research firm Aite Group estimated that Apple Pay only accounted for 1% of all US retail transactions as of last October.

Nevertheless, the revenue bump that USA Technologies gets through advertising its Apple Pay availability proves that there is an opportunity to increase sales by supporting mobile payments. Therefore, brands should not only incorporate mobile payments into their points of sale to facilitate a convenient check-out experience, but also do a better job of informing their customers of their support for mobile payments. This is also applicable for online retailers, as Apple Pay support is coming to web pages.


Source: NFCWorld

Fast Forward: Everything From Apple’s WWDC 2016 That Brands Need To Know

Your guide to tech-driven changes in the media landscape by IPG Media Lab. A fast read for you and a forward for your clients and team.

  • Apple released SDKs for iMessage, Siri, and Maps, allowing brands to integrate with those three platforms at the core of the iPhone experience
  • Apple Pay will work on mobile and desktop in Safari, allowing brands to create a seamless shopping experience, and will support third-party Watch apps
  • iOS 10 will add 3D-touch support and rich interactions to notifications, continuing a trend toward more powerful notifications

What Apple Announced
Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) yesterday in San Francisco with a jam-packed, two-hour keynote presentation. For a summary of the announcements that Apple made today, TechCrunch has a great summary. The announcements from the opening keynote that are relevant to brands and marketers include:

  • Apple Pay – including loyalty cards and coupons – now works with third-party Watch apps as well as on the web in Safari, which will make checkout seamless on both desktop and mobile.
  • The Messages app receives a massive makeover in iOS 10, gaining a more animated interface and tons of fun new features. Most importantly, Apple is introducing an App Store for iMessage, turning their messaging app into a platform that can be extended by developers and brands. These apps can be bundled with a full-fledged iOS app or they can be distributed independently.
  • Apple Maps in iOS 10 launches Map Extensions for developers to integrate services such as restaurant booking or ride hailing right into Maps
  • Siri SDK allows Siri to perform actions in third-party apps in supported domains, including messaging, ride-sharing, photo search, and payments via apps like Square Cash and AliPay.
  • Siri search in the new tvOS for Apple TV will include YouTube results, allowing brands to get in front of more people by partnering with YouTube creators.
  • iOS 10 beefs up notifications with rich interactions and 3D Touch support.


New noticificationsWhat Brands Need To Do
As iOS 10 introduces news ways to increase user engagement with apps by helping the system suggest your app to users at appropriate times, it is paramount that brands make sure to properly index their app content so that users can access in-app content and services through Spotlight, web search results, and Siri suggestions. Brands should make sure the locations and amenities of owned or partner stores, hotels, and restaurants are properly indexed for Siri so that users can easily access the information they need.

Between new rich notifications, Siri support for some types of apps, and widgets becoming available on the iOS lock screen, Apple has begun unbundling the app-centric model it helped create. Though these features are all delivered and supported by an installed app, it’s increasingly possible for users to never have to open the app itself to accomplish a task. Brands will have to work with developers to ensure their branded apps support these new features to maximize engagement.

For any brand that sells directly to consumers online, especially those in the retail and fashion industries, the updates for Apple Pay spell exciting new opportunities to create a frictionless shopping experience across devices. The new Safari integration allows customers shopping on brands’ websites to easily check out using Apple Pay on mobile browsers and, thanks to the Continuity feature in the new macOS, on their Mac devices as well. And the API allows brands to integrate Apple Pay into their Watch apps to provide a seamless purchase experience.

How We Can Help
Please contact Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) at the IPG Media Lab if you would like more detail or want to schedule a visit to the Lab to discuss how your brand may benefit from integrating with Apple’s ecosystem, particularly in messaging and in the living room with Apple TV.

For previous editions of Fast Forward, please visit Please reply with any constructive criticism or feedback. We want these to be as useful as possible for you and your clients, and your input will help us immensely.


Big Retailers’ Apple Pay Rival CurrentC Is Now On Its Deathbed

What Happened
The Merchant Consortium Exchange (MCX) announced on Wednesday that it will be ending its CurrentC beta test on June 28th and postponing all future releases. After the beta test ends, MCX will disable all customer accounts and end consumer access to the service. The news came after MCX laid off some 30 employees last month.

CurrentC was conceived by MCX, a consortium made up of big-name retailers such as Walmart, 7-Eleven, and Target, as a merchant owned mobile wallet in 2012, aiming to give the retailers more control over the check-out process and purchase data. The MCX started beta testing the system last August, almost one year after Apple Pay’s launch, and kept postponing its official launch date. As Apple Pay continues to add more banks and credit card companies to its service, CurrentC lagged behind, failing to gain any real traction among consumers.

What Retailers Need To Do
If you have been holding out on adopting other popular mobile payment systems in your stores, CurrentC’s imminent demise should come as a wake-up call. Even Walmart started developing its own mobile payment system in December, despite being a founding member of MCX and one of the most high-profile retailers blocking Apple Pay in favor of CurrentC.

With more and more consumers now shopping with their smartphones in their hands or pockets, it is only a matter of time before mobile payments become a mainstream practice for in-store purchases as the technology matures. Therefore, for brands that wish to stay ahead of the digital curve, now would be the time to start developing a digital payment strategy and incorporating existing reward and loyalty programs into point of sale systems.

For more information on how retailers can modernize the shopping experience with mobile technologies, check out the Boundless Retail section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: 9to5Mac

Apple Pay Coming To Mobile Websites Later This Year

What Happened
Apple is planning to extend Apple Pay from apps and to the mobile web. By this holiday season, iOS users should be able to check out on mobile sites opened in Safari browser with Apple Pay. Users have been able to complete their purchases with Apple Pay in apps that support it, as well as at NFC-enabled POS terminals. And later this year, all iOS users with touch ID-enabled devices will be able to complete their purchases on mobile websites as well.  

What Brands Need To Do
This impending expansion of Apple Pay should be of great benefit for brands that sell directly on their websites, for it should help remove some friction in online shopping and reduce shopping cart abandonments, 46% of which occur at the payment stage. Therefore, brands should be pro-active when it comes to adding support for Apple Pay once such integration becomes available later this year.

For more information on how brands can modernize their user experiences to better engage with mobile shoppers, check out the Boundless Retail section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: 9to5Mac

Apple Pay Users Can Get Free Tube Rides In London For Three Days

What Happened
Londoners will be able to ride the Tube for free with Apple Pay over the next three Mondays, thanks to a “Fare Free Mondays” promotion that MasterCard is running to incentivize its users to ditch their credit cards for mobile payment. On February 29th, March 8th, and March 15th, London Tube riders just need to add their MasterCard cards to Apple Pay, and tap their iPhones at the turnstile to take free rides, thanks to the London Underground’s contactless ticketing system installed in 2003.

What Brands Need To Do
This MasterCard promotion provides a good example for the kind of cool sponsorships that brands can leverage to incentivize the use of a product or service while aligning the brand with great experiences and providing customers with value. Furthermore, encouraging users to use mobile payments can help brands remove some friction in online purchases, while also allowing brands to take advantage of reward programs linked to mobile payment solutions. Therefore brands that wish to stay ahead of the digital curve should consider forging partnerships and running similar promotions to onboard more customers to mobile payments.

For more information on how brands can modernize their user experiences to better engage with shoppers, check out the Boundless Retail section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: The Verge

Global Watch: Apple Pay Launches In China, 38 Million Cards Registered in One Day

What Happened
Apple first announced in December that it was partnering with China’s UnionPay to bring Apple Pay to users in China sometime in 2016. Now a year and a half after launching in the US., the Cupertino company officially launched Apple Pay in China on Thursday, and, according to Mashable’s report, it has been an early success as 38 million credit cards were linked on launch day. In fact, many Chinese users complained that they were unable to sign up due to what Apple later confirmed to be a “planned gradual rollout throughout the day.”

Market Impact
Unlike U.S., mobile payment is already widely adopted by mainstream consumers, thanks to the popularity of Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Wallet, which experts suggested would pose challenges for Apple Pay. However, with the backing of UnionPay, the only domestic bank card organization in mainland China, Apple Pay may just stand a good chance at conquering this important global market, as it plays an integral part in Chinese banks’ plan to digitize its offline payment services and compete against the likes of Alipay.

What Brands Need To Do
As Apple continues to push Apple Pay into more global markets, expanding its scope and capturing more users in the process, it is time for brands that have businesses in China start using Apple Pay’s integration of reward programs to connect with the local consumers. As a market that is quite accustomed to offline mobile payment, this also presents new opportunities for retailers with stores in China to incorporate existing reward and loyalty programs into new point of sale systems for a frictionless shopping experience.


Sources: 9to5 Mac

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