Apple Pay hits roadblock as US pharmacies disable NFC access

Apple Pay hits roadblock as US pharmacies disable NFC access

Two of the biggest pharmacy chains in the US have disabled NFC terminals in an attempt to shut out Apple Pay ahead of the launch of retailer-backed platform CurrentC in 2015.

In a leaked internal memo published on SlashGear, it was revealed that Rite Aid, a US pharmacy chain deliberately modified or disabled NFC eftpos terminals to prevent access for customers wishing to use Apple Pay.

In an internal e-mail sent to a shift supervisor it was revealed that CVS, another US pharmacy chain, has now followed suit in disabling customers from using Apple's payment technology.

Both pharmacy chains are part of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MXC) consortium, which is launching a rival mobile payments platform, dubbed CurrentC. The venture was set up in 2012 by numerous merchants including 7-Eleven, Target and Wal-Mart and is backed by tech partners FIS, Gemalto and Paydiant.

The modification to the pharmacy NFC terminals will also shut out other competing platforms including those from telco-backed SoftCard and Google Wallet.

Following Apple's launch of Apple Pay last month, major retailers Wal-Mart and Best Buy both confirmed they will not be signing up to the system.

Rather than using NFC technology, CurrentC will use a QR-code system displayed on the merchant's point of sale which is then scanned by the customer's phone. CurrentC will automatically apply discounts, initiate loyalty programs and withdraw funds from a customer's current accounts - cutting out credit-card processing fees.

Comments: (6)

Martin Cox
Martin Cox - Rambus - Rotterdam 27 October, 2014, 11:16Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

It'll also shut out contactless card acceptance.. It'll be interesting to see how long this kind of stance is held if customers try to tap their cards or phones and are told "sorry, our proprietarty solution only".

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 27 October, 2014, 12:23Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I suspect the reader firm/software can be modified to decline only ApplePay requests. Contactless cards should be ok. Ironic really as Apple should be last to complain about other propreitry solutions!

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 27 October, 2014, 12:25Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Seems childish in a, "I'll just take my ball and go home" kind of way.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 27 October, 2014, 12:301 like 1 like

Given than McX (and the retailers involved in that payment route) see the future as 'mobile payments' and are gearing up accordingly, is anyone really surprised that some (probably all eventually) of the merchants accepting McX see the merchant led McX solution as the way forward that suits them most rather than the Apple Pay product which effectively gives away control of the purchase process?  I'm not.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 27 October, 2014, 12:371 like 1 like

Indeed, and long overdue. Retailing organisations have been waiting on the banks et al for too long in coming up with a mobile solution or environement that actually works for them and adds value (without more transaction fee burdens). Under their own control they can offer a more coherent and persoanlised payment user experience with the data remaing in their domain. Just seems to make more sense tbh...

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 27 October, 2014, 14:311 like 1 like

Not surprising but suicidal, as time will tell. There's no way MCX can achieve mainstream adoption of CurrentC at a total cost that is below their post Frank-Dodd-Durban debit / credit interchange fees of 12 cents / ~3%.

http://snarketing2dot0.com/2014/09/03/failed-currentc/

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