“Long before Apple Pay, big brick-and-mortar retail chains were conspiring to sidestep the typical 2% to 3% fees they’re charged by credit card companies when consumers pay with credit. A company called MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange), spearheaded by Walmart, was started to build a mobile payment solution that would become an app called CurrentC that’s preparing to launch, but is already in the app stores,” Josh Constine reports for TechCrunch. “Rather than NFC, CurrentC uses QR codes displayed on a cashier’s screen and scanned by the consumer’s phone or vice versa to initiate and verify the transaction. The system is also designed to automatically apply discounts, use loyalty programs, and charge purchases to a variety of payment methods without passing sensitive financial data to the merchant.”

“Retailers including CVS and Rite-Aid were planned partners for CurrentC. Now those businesses have pulled unofficial support for Apple Pay through their existing NFC readers,” Constine reports. “This implies they’ve established exclusive deals with MCX to use CurrentC as their mobile payment option.”

“When you sign up for CurrentC, you’re supposed to add your bank account,” Constine reports. “When it’s time for a user to check out, they request to pay with CurrentC. The consumer then unlocks their phone, opens the CurrentC app, opens the code scanner, and scans the QR code shown on the cashier’s screen. In some case, the reverse may happen where the consumer’s CurrentC app displays a payment code and the cashier scans it. If a QR code can’t be generated, a manually entered numeric code may be offered.”

“CurrentC notes it may share info with your device maker, app store, or developer tool makers. Oddly, it will collect health data. Precise location information is used to verify you’re at the retailer where you’re making a transaction, and if you opt in it can be used for marketing or advertising. CurrentC notes that you can opt in to be able to capture and store photos in the app for a hypothetical visual shopping list or other features down the road,” Constine reports. “Users have to open their phone, open CurrentC, open the scanner, scan the code from the cashier, and wait for the transaction to be confirmed. That may present more friction than simply paying with a credit card, and it’s certainly harder than a quick Touch ID verification and tap of Apple Pay.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Consumers are responding by threatening to boycott stores which disable Apple Pay, with more than 2,000 comments across several Reddit threads on the topic. Android users are joining in, as disabling NFC also blocks alternative mobile payment services offered by higher-end Android handsets,” Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac. “As with CVS, Apple Pay initially worked in Rite Aid stores, indicating that the company has made a deliberate decision to switch off support.”

“MCX members like the CurrentC system as it links direct to debit accounts, bypassing card companies and the transaction fees they levy. It also allows them to issue coupons and track purchasing behaviour,” Lovejoy reports. “For consumers, however, CurrentC is ridiculously clunky. It relies on either exchanging QR codes – the payment terminal displaying one which is scanned by the phone, and the phone generating a second one that is scanned by the terminal – or manually entering 4-digit codes. It is also far less secure, without the protection Apple Pay offers with single-use codes and Touch ID.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Boycott CVS and Rite Aid and any other company that willfully turns off NFC in a effort to block the vastly more secure, much more private, and far easier-to-use Apple Pay service.

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