Apple Pay hasn’t been live for more than a week, but already it’s causing rifts between Apple, banks and retailers. Big name chains including CVS and Rite Aid have reportedly shut down NFC support in their stores, joining outlets like Best Buy and Walmart who didn’t support the new service to begin with. It’s believed that the imminent arrival of a competing service called CurrentC is the reason for Apple Pay getting the cold shoulder.
CVS and Rite Aid were not official Apple Pay launch partners but the technology worked with their in-store NFC readers. According to MacRumors, that functionality has now been disabled, cutting out competing services such as Google Wallet at the same time. Based on an internal document leaked to SlashGear it looks like these retailers want customers to use CurrentC instead, slated to arrive at the start of 2015.
A company called Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), backed primarily by Walmart, is behind the upcoming CurrentC platform, which uses QR codes to enable customers to scan and purchase goods in stores. Based on some digging done by TechCrunch, the service will include loyalty rewards and discount offers, and is the retailers’ attempt to avoid paying credit card fees (somewhere in the 2-3 percent range).
If CVS and Rite Aid have signed exclusive deals with CurrentC then this would of course oblige them to cut out any rival offerings, such as Apple Pay. Still, it’s a shame for consumers that extra convenience and simplicity are once again being sacrificed to a turf war over who handles the dollars that are spent. As CurrentC makes use of QR codes it will be compatible with a broader range of handsets, but it doesn’t have the Touch ID-powered ease-of-use that Apple Pay brings to the table.
The future of cashless payments is at stake, and it looks like the major players are prepared to do whatever it takes to come out on top. If you find your next Apple Pay transaction declined, then you’ll know why. Find out which stores definitely will accept the new technology with our list of Apple’s official partners in the scheme.
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