Apple Pay Blocked at CVS, Rite Aid

Photo (cc) by pr_ip

It’s been in use for just a week, but already some retailers are rejecting Apple Pay, the tech giant’s new mobile payment system.

According to NPR, CVS and Rite Aid have disabled access to Apple Pay and other “swipeless” payment systems, including Google Wallet and PayPal.

While the companies haven’t said why they’re barring the use of Apple Pay, it’s reported that the two pharmacy chains are part of a coalition of retailers known as the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which is working on its own payment mobile wallet system dubbed CurrentC. MCX is made up of a number of retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Sears, Lowe’s and Target.

CurrentC uses a QR code that is displayed on the checkout terminal, drawing money directly from consumers’ bank accounts, instead of charging a credit card, enabling merchants to avoid paying credit card transaction fees. According to 24/7 Wall St.:

The advantage of CurrentC is that it works with existing checkout terminals, while Apple Pay requires that most retailers purchase new equipment to communicate with the NFC chip in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Among the retailers that do not need to buy new terminals are Best Buy, Rite Aid and CVS, so their reason for shutting down access to Apple Pay is very likely contractual or an act of solidarity with their fellow CurrentC backers.

The CurrentC system is expected to go live early next year.

In light of an onslaught of data breaches in the past year, consumers are understandably eager to find a more secure way to pay for their purchases. Mobile wallets offer a payment alternative. But figuring out which type of payment is accepted at a given retailer can be confusing.

Ultimately, consumers may drive which payment options retailers adopt. According to 24/7 Wall St., CurrentC companies may find themselves accepting Apple Pay if that’s what their shoppers want:

If, as most observers expect, customer demand for NFC-based systems like Apple Pay grows rapidly, these retailers are not going to adopt a “my way or the highway” attitude with their customers. They have learned that when it comes to technology, it’s a consumer-driven world and they just live in it.

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