While Apple Pay has gotten a lot of attention as arguably the most game-changing feature on both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s new mobile payment service hasn’t endeared itself to everyone. According to reports, two top U.S. drugstore franchises switched off their NFC terminals, with the goal of blocking Apple Pay and pushing their yet-unfinished CurrentC payment system.
Originally, CVS and Rite Aid were among the many companies that could support Apple Pay upon its release, albeit on an unofficial basis. These two drugstores, after all, had installed NFC terminals several years back, back when Google Wallet was still one of the better-known mobile payment system and near-field communication a rather new selling feature on Android phones. But while hype surrounding Google Wallet upon its launch was quite massive, the service didn’t click with consumers as expected.
Upon the rollout of iOS 8.1 last week, customers of certain retailers had discovered that they could make NFC payments or purchases outside of the companies confirmed to support the service, including launch partners McDonald’s and Macy’s, and rival drug store Walgreens. It was just as simple as using NFC payment terminals at retailers that had them, even if these terminals were set up for the purpose of supporting Google Wallet. But with this backdrop out of the way, several retailers have since spoken out against Apple Pay, as it doesn’t store information or keep track of purchasing history, rather ensuring that transaction details be kept private. These retailers have included Best Buy, which had recently removed its NFC terminals, and now add CVS and Rite Aid to the growing list.
Best Buy, CVS, and Rite Aid are just three retailers in a consortium of seven (also including Kmart and 7 Eleven) that have jointly been putting work into the CurrentC payment system. This is an app-based mobile payment system that makes users launch the app when checking out products, with the app creating a QR bar code to be scanned by retailers. This is a similar system to Google’s latest Wallet iteration, and would require a buyer to access their mobile data in order for the app to work; in contrast, Apple Pay doesn’t require users to access data.
There is, however, a catch to the CurrentC app being pushed by CVS, Rite Aid, and its fellow retailers in the consortium. While you can download the app via the iOS App Store, it’s currently an invite-only application that allows people to sign up to be “put on the list,” presumably for notifications regarding its release date and availability. Its description says that users will “be able to use (their) phone to pay for things through (their) checking account, and select merchant gift cards, credit, and debit accounts.”
Like Apple Pay, CurrentC is supposedly safe to use, and doesn’t store personal financial data in one’s device. “CurrentC processes every transaction across multiple secure checkpoints—each meeting or exceeding industry security standards,” reads its description. “Sensitive financial data is never stored on your phone or shared during a merchant transaction—so you can pay with peace of mind.” However, with several leading retailers having recently claimed breaches of personal customer data, that may be one reason why the app remains incomplete and unreleased.