On September 23rd, Canadian Tire announced the launch of mPay & Play, its new mobile app. The app is notable for being the first to combine the benefits of secure mobile payments with special offers and rewards and a unique, interactive, gaming experience.

The mPay & Play app is exclusive to some 2 million Canadian Tire Options MasterCard cardmembers. Six days prior to the official announcement, select cardmembers began receiving emails on their mobile phones in a soft launch promoting the new app, according to Mintel ePerformance/eDataSource. Emails warned cardmembers to “get ready for an out of wallet experience” with some versions promoting the convenience and security of mobile payments while others promoted special offers and elevated rewards. All versions included an embedded video, easy to view on a mobile device, which explained the app’s benefits.

Currently, the mPay & Play app can be used to pay at cash registers in Canadian Tire stores. Outside of Canadian Tire, cardmembers must still use their plastic MasterCard but the app tracks any e-Canadian Tire Money earned, regardless of where the purchase was made, and serves up special offers such as in-store discounts. The interactive gamification experience comes through the collecting of badges which are awarded for certain activities such as making an online purchase or using the card to pay at a Mark’s or Sportchek store (both owned by Canadian Tire). Once customers collect 10 badges they can earn 10x the amount of Canadian Tire Money when they make their next purchase at Canadian Tire. The app also includes a hockey game which is currently “just for fun,” according Eugene Roman, Chief Technology Officer. More sports games are in the works and in the future they could incorporate the badging experience that is currently built into the loyalty program.

Why this matters

Card marketers in the US and Canada have entered a new era as the battle to be the “default card” in the digital wallet intensifies. Most digital wallets have, to date, been launched without a rewards component despite the fact that rewards integration is likely to be the ultimate driver of broad adoption. This is particularly the case in Canada where the ease of earning and redeeming rewards is second only to not having an annual fee when consumers consider the reasons for owning a credit card, according to Mintel’s upcoming Credit Cards Canada 2015 report. Canadian Tire’s inclusion of rewards and gamification takes the battle to be top of the digital wallet to a new level by making the mobile payments experience more engaging and more interactive.

This pioneering innovation also epitomizes the dramatic digital evolution of a company that only last year digitized its decades-old Canadian Tire Money, originally established in 1958. With many financial services institutions launching innovation labs, Canadian Tire has gone one step further by not only establishing its own Digital Garage but also – as part of its commitment to what it calls “shoppertainment” – launching a gamification lab, called Nucleus, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Canadian Tire’s digital journey is proof that even the most traditional companies can embrace and adapt to digital disruption with the right vision and leadership.

Andrew Davidson is SVP Comperemedia at Mintel. He is a multi-channel marketing and payments expert with over 20 years of marketing research experience. Andrew is regularly called upon to provide analysis for leading media publications worldwide and is also a key speaker at Card Forum and other high profile international industry events.

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