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Jamba, Jack in the Box testing Google Wallet

Jamba, Jack in the Box testing Google Wallet

Contactless payment technology expected to grow as customers look to pay, use coupons with smartphones

Jamba Juice and Jack in the Box are testing Google Wallet in a limited trial of the technology that lets customers pay for purchases and redeem coupons with their smartphones, executives at each chain said.

“Just like everyone else, we want to see how the user is embracing this technology,” said Stevie Liang, director of business systems innovation, for San Diego-based Jack in the Box Inc., “and to see if it has a future and if we should invest even more resources into it.”

The chain is promoting Google Wallet use at 35 restaurants in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas.

Google Wallet launched in September and currently accepts payments only from Citibank-issued MasterCards with PayPass, a tap-and-go-payment feature, and Google Prepaid Card accounts. For now, only Sprint’s Samsung Nexus S 4G smartphone supports Google Wallet. Google Offers, launched earlier this month, allows participating companies and consumers to distribute and use virtual coupons from Google Wallet.

Google said it’s working to expand the payment card brands Google Wallet accepts, and nearly all major smartphone makers are considering including chips Google Wallet requires in its new models.

Jamba Juice

Emeryville, Calif.-based Jamba Juice is supporting Google Wallet at 270 of its approximately 750 locations, including units in the Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C. markets, said Robert Notte, Jamba Inc. vice president of information technology.

Watch customers use Google Wallet; story continues on next page

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Company-owned restaurants account for between 70 percent and 80 percent of the units supporting Google Wallet, he said.

Jamba Juice specially added new card-reader hardware and upgraded POS software at participating restaurants to accommodate Google Wallet, Notte said. The chain did not previously support contactless payments, but said the Google test was worthwhile.

“First of all, the Google brand name carries a lot of weight, and they are right here in the Bay Area,” Notte said. “That and the belief that this industry is moving quickly towards mobile commerce and that it is better to be on the front end than trying to catch up.”

He referred to Starbucks’ success with its Starbucks Card and mobile app, saying, “There is a lot of value being one of the first ones out there supporting this [mobile commerce].”

“The technology, the consumerization of smartphones, the Google brand name — I think all of these were pretty big factors in making it an easy decision for us to pilot [Google Wallet],” Notte said.

With the test, more than a third of Jamba Juice units now have contactless payment card terminals and promotional signs, and customers are beginning to use tap-and-go payment cards, he added.

Notte said he anticipates that Google Wallet use will soon add to the volume of contactless payments.

Other aspects of the technology also interest Notte in terms of “adding value and traffic to our stores,” he said.

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“Gift cards is a place where we can really leverage Google Wallet,” Notte said. “Tap-and-pay is nice, but I think the real power comes with the ability to push offers to consumers and move gift cards through Google Wallet and, eventually, handle loyalty [programs] through Google Wallet.”

He added that demand is growing for these payment systems.

“A year and a half ago, there were no ‘wallets,’ but now you have Google Wallet that launched; you have PayPal hinting that they are going to launch a pilot early next year,” Notte said.

Jack in the Box

Since Jack in the Box already had in more than 1,500 restaurants the contactless payment card terminals Google Wallet requires, its efforts to join the Google Wallet test were minimal, Liang said.

But use of contactless tap-and-go payment cards have been declining in recent years at the quick-service chain, company officials have said.

“We definitely had seen a drop,” Liang said. “But I think we’re going to see a rise because of what Google is pushing and what the media has been promoting.”

Signs at the 35 Jack in the Box units participating in the Google Wallet test will promote the program. Plus, customers at any of the quick-service chain’s restaurants with contactless payment terminals can also use Google Wallet there.

The test isn’t expected to boost check averages above other credit transactions or traffic.

“It’s just an easier to use form of payment for out customers,” Liang said.

He added that it’s too early in the test to discuss transaction volumes.

RELATED: Subway unveils contactless payment system

Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @AJ_NRN

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