Apple Pay was launched earlier this month and has become the fastest-growing digital payment platform on the market so far, but it’s not all roses and candy for everyone.
Apple Pay allows you to store your credit card information on your iPhone and use it to buy stuff at any store that supports Apple Pay. The iPhone 6 has an NFC chip that allows you to tap the pay terminal at a store to instantly buy goods without swiping your credit card. Furthermore, doing this doesn’t give the store your credit card information, so you’re less susceptible to store hacks that steal credit card information, similar to the recent Home Depot and Target hacks.
Apple Pay also works with mobile shopping apps, allowing you to pay with a single touch of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in shopping apps that support the feature.
While Apple’s new payment service is accepted at a number of major retail stores and fast food establishments, there are still a large number of giant retail chains that won’t support Apple Pay, and it’s all because of another competing payment platform called CurrentC.
Walmart and Best Buy are just two of the big retail chains that aren’t supporting Apple Pay, simply because of prior agreements with the Merchant Customer Exchange, which is a group consisting of a handful of retail stores, including Walmart and Best Buy, that will support CurrentC instead of Apple’s payment platform.
CVS and Rite Aid are two other members of the group, and while they accepted NFC payments in the past, they recently shut down NFC payments all together because of their involvement with the Merchant Customer Exchange, which essentially requires that these retail stores use CurrentC and nothing else.
Ed McLaughlin, who is the chief emerging payments officer at MasterCard, says that “Rite Aid and CVS have been accepting contactless payments for quite a long time,” which only speaks volumes of what kind of impact Apple Pay has had recently since its launch last week. For both CVS and Rite Aid to shut down NFC payments all together after accepting it as a payment option for several years now is quite telling, and proves that Apple Pay is making a dent in the NFC payment industry.
The Merchant Customer Exchange praises its upcoming CurrentC payment platform, as it links directly to users’ debit accounts, which bypasses card companies and their transaction fees. However, it’s not the best solution for the consumer. The system uses QR codes that requires the user to unlock their phone, open up an app, and display a QR code that gets scanned by the pay terminal reader, whereas Apple Pay simply requires users to take out their iPhones and point it close to the NFC terminal with their finger on the Touch ID sensor.
Plus, CurrentC collects all sorts of information about your purchases, making it one of the least favorite options when it comes to user privacy. And it certainly doesn’t help that CurrentC was hacked.
Whether or not CVS and Rite Aid stick with CurrentC is up in the air, as the platform hasn’t even launched yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see the platform fail eventually and have these stores quickly switch back to Apple Pay, especially since there aren’t any penalties for companies that want to leave CurrentC and join Apple Pay.
So if you’re wondering why Apple Pay isn’t accepted at more stores than what’s already supported, it’s somewhat due to competition and exclusivity. Merchants believe it’s in their best interest to offer payment methods that benefit them instead of the customers, while other retailers that support Apple Pay think it’s best to offer as many payment methods as possible.
iOS and Android users alike are banding together, though, and a thread on Reddit inviting Android users to join iOS in the fight to bring NFC payments back has reached the front page of the popular website. Whether or not it will work is still something that will take time to decide, but this is one instance where Apple and Android users are finally getting along, and that’s definitely a good thing.