One of the big­gest goals of mo­bile pay­ments has been con­nect­ing the con­sumer trans­ac­tion with a store’s loy­alty pro­gram to lever­age data for cus­tom­ized of­fers, but many quick-ser­vice restau­rants have strug­gled to make that hap­pen.

Mo­bile mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ists like Levelup and Punchh are mak­ing head­way by link­ing pur­chase data from trans­ac­tions with loy­alty and re­wards pro­grams, but the two com­pa­nies are split on how they use Near Field Com­mu­ni­ca­tion spow­ered mo­bile pay­ments, un­der­scor­ing an on­go­ing dilemma.

Punchh is bet­ting that Nfc—still not widely avail­able at most mer­chant lo­ca­tions years af­ter its in­tro­duc­tion—will even­tu­ally be­come ubiq­ui­tous, and it hopes to get an edge with clients with a di­rect con­nec­tion to Ap­ple Pay, en­abling con­sumers who pay via NFC in stores to si­mul­ta­ne­ously earn and re­deem restau­rant loy­alty pro­gram points.

Wal­greens cus­tomers have been able to earn loy­alty points us­ing Ap­ple Pay since 2015, and last year Kohl’s en­abled its app users to earn points when pay­ing with Ap­ple Pay, but Punchh is an early mover in the restau­rant in­dus­try, said Shyam Rao, Punchh’s CEO.

“Restau­rant loy­alty has been bro­ken for a long time, but now a cus­tomer can walk into a restau­rant, pay with Ap­ple Pay and si­mul­ta­ne­ously get loy­alty points and of­fers on the spot, cre­at­ing a smooth, multi-chan­nel loy­alty ex­pe­ri­ence for cus­tomers pay­ing on­line, in-app or in stores,” Rao said.

Punchh plans to add An­droid Pay to its restau­rant loy­alty plat­form and is cur­rently in dis­cus­sions with Google about en­abling its NFC pay­ment ser­vice by the end of the year, the com­pany said.

Levelup hasn’t been as en­thu­si­as­tic about NFC so far. The Bos­ton-based com­pany em­pha­sizes in-app pay­ments, and its plat­form drives con­sumers at par­tic­i­pat­ing restau­rants to link their card for pay­ment on­line or in­side the app in stores or when or­der­ing ahead. Con­sumers can also choose Chase Pay.

Though Levelup “fu­ture-proofed” its ser­vice by in­clud­ing Near Field Com­mu­ni­ca­tion pay­ments ca­pa­bil­i­ties into its so­lu­tion, the com­pany still sees rel­a­tively lit­tle de­mand for NFC pay­ments, ac­cord­ing to Alex Shuck, the com­pany’s direc­tor of mar­ket­ing and an­a­lyt­ics.

But Levelup is keep­ing its op­tions open in case NFC takes off. In a blog post this month, Levelup an­nounced a beta test of “om­nichan­nel sup­port” for Ap­ple Pay, de­scrib­ing a one-touch ap­proach to pay with NFC and earn loy­alty points avail­able to some mer­chants.

Punchh spent months test­ing its integrated Ap­ple

Pay ap­proach with mer­chants, and chains in­clud­ing Smash­burger, Quiznos and MOD Pizza plan to launch it later this year, ac­cord­ing to Rao. Sev­eral of Punchh’s 85 other restau­rants are con­sid­er­ing adding the integrated Ap­ple

Pay ap­proach, but not all will do so, he con­cedes. “A lot of restau­rants just don’t have the NFC hard­ware en­abled yet, but we think they will get there even­tu­ally,” Rao said.

For cus­tomers at restau­rants us­ing Punchh’s plat­form with the new Ap­ple Pay ap­proach, those who al­ready have the restau­rant’s app will be prompted to pay via Ap­ple Pay through the wal­let, si­mul­ta­ne­ously earn­ing loy­alty points with op­tions to re­deem of­fers. New cus­tomers will re­ceive a screen prompt within Ap­ple Pay to join the loy­alty pro­gram di­rectly, ac­cord­ing to Rao.

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