What is Apple Passbook?

One of the biggest hype of surrounding iPhone 5 and iOS 6 has got to be Apple Passbook. Seems to me it’s Apple’s answer to Google Wallet. But it’s not quite the same. GW is primarily an in-store and online payment device whereas Passbook, which is a part of iOS6, is a new application from Apple designed to store membership cards, tickets, coupons, and boarding passes — a bit like a digital wallet without the electronic payment capability, well not just yet.

So is mobile loyalty programme new? Not really. In the U.S, Shopkicks and Loyaldash and Pointpal in Singapore, have been actively pushing their own mobile loyalty platforms. And what Passbook will do is simply bring that adoption rate much higher and in a much faster time. Passbook, or mobile loyalty platforms offers you more things that what paper and plastic can do, like alert you to changes, and pop up to be readily accessed based on your location. For something like a going to a cinema or collecting points at your local grocery store, all this means is that you don’t need to worry about keeping track of a ticket or your loyalty card — just your phone.

Unlike Near Field Communications (NFC), a technology that involves location-aware sensors and has become a staple on Android devices, Passbook relies on the places you’re at to scan your iPhone‘s screen. All you need to do is to get your iPhone scanned using QR code or bar code reader, just like you would do on a normal ticket, and you are through.

It’s estimated that consumers globally lose about $16billion in lost opportunities due to expired points lost loyalty cards and coupons. So Passbook if done well will change all that as you can always rely on Apple to make things easy. Each card or boarding pass comes with a simple interface to manage the settings such as reminders and points balance.

Some of the companies that have or are rolling out Passbook includes Starbucks, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Starwood Hotels, Apple Retail Stores and many other U.S establishments such as Walgreen, MLB.com, Live Nation, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and several more.

So the burning question is: Is it going to be relevant in Asia? Due to its relatively low cost of adoption as QR codes and bar-code scanners are devices already in most of Asia’s retail chains and stores and Asians being avid deal hunters, this can be that shiny new thing for many retailers and brands as the features and benefits are definitely geared to help you drive additional revenue and footfall to your store. And here’s a quick look how you can take advantage of Passbook:

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