Whole Foods loyalty cards are coming to Apple Pay. The Texas-based grocery chain joins the small group of retailers that will bring their rewards programs to Apple’s mobile payment system with the release of iOS 9, according to 9to5Mac.
Other retailers and companies committing to Apple Pay include Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Donuts, Panera Bread, Wegmans Food Markets, Walgreens and Kohl’s Department Stores. Once iOS 9 rolls out this fall, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners will be able to add rewards cards of participating retailers to their iOS Wallet and use them over Apple Pay just like their credit cards.
But unlike the rollout of bank and retailer support for Apple Pay, rewards card program support may arrive at a slower pace, since the payment terminal manufacturers will have to activate support in their contactless credit card terminals. In addition to rewards cards, Apple will also support store-issued credit cards, starting with BJ’s Wholesale Club, Kohl’s and JCPenney.
“2015 will be the year of Apple Pay,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook during the company’s January earnings call. But since then nearly two-thirds of the top 100 U.S. retailers don’t have any plans to support it this year, according to a Reuters survey. Some cited the cost of implementing the technology.
But for many U.S. merchants, the cost may already be built-in, as an October deadline approaches for retailers to install payment terminals that support EMV -- commonly referred to as “chip” cards. The cards themselves don’t come with contactless features. But many of the terminals that support them already have the near-field communication (NFC) technology used by Apple Pay and Android Pay already installed.
Apple’s iOS 9 is currently only available to developers as beta software. But the company plans to roll out a public beta to customers starting in July, followed by a fall release.