CVS stores reportedly disabling NFC to shut down Apple Pay

“Earlier this week, pharmacy chain Rite Aid shut down unofficial support for the Apple Pay and Google Wallet mobile payments systems, resulting in an outcry from users who have been testing out Apple’s new system since its launch on Monday,” Eric Slivka reports for MacRumors.

“Rite Aid was not an official Apple Pay partner, but the payments system generally works with existing near field communications (NFC) payment terminals anyway, and many users had had success using Apple Pay at Rite Aid stores early in the week,” Slivka reports. “It now appears that fellow major pharmacy chain CVS is following suit and as of today is shutting down the NFC functionality of its payment terminals entirely, a move presumably intended to thwart Apple Pay.”

Slivka reports, “The reason behind Rite Aid’s and CVS’s moves to disable unofficial Apple Pay support in their stores is presumably related to their participation in Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a retailer group developing its own mobile payments system known as CurrentC.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: CVS redefines futility in laughable fashion.

Related articles:
Barron’s takes Apple Pay for a spin: ‘The system worked flawlessly’ – October 25, 2014
New ‘MasterCard Nearby’ app lets Apple Pay users easily locate merchants – October 24, 2014
Mossberg reviews Apple Pay: ‘Worked smoothly and quickly’ – October 24, 2014
Apple Pay today and tomorrow – October 24, 2014
List of banks slated to support Apple Pay soon – October 23, 2014
Cashiers don’t understand Apple Pay and it’s totally adorable – October 23, 2014
American Express and Visa love Apple Pay – October 23, 2014
Apple Pay: Yet another game-changing revolution from Apple as the digital wallet pays up – October 23, 2014
Shopping with Apple Pay: Convenient, problem-free and even fun – October 21, 2014
McDonald’s: Decision to support Apple Pay was easy – October 20, 2014
Apple Pay launches today and retail will never be the same – October 20, 2014


    1. Walgreens have been my reliable pharmacists for a number of years and I recommend the chain. Longs was nice for sundries and sold Nat Shermans, but CVS took over and ruined them. And both CVS and Rite Aid were caught selling expired OTC medications, food, and other items.

      1. I agree, my wife and I loved Walgreens till our insurance forced us to switch to Rite Ade. They are good too but I was seriously thinking of switching to CVS because of their discontinuation of selling cigarettes and because of Rite Aid’s disabling of Apple Pay.
        Looks like CVS is now going to loose out of our family’s (6 people) lucrative prescription account.

      1. Hope he has good Lawyers! In fact, after reading several different posts on here, I have decided to report MDN to US Authorities as they are hosting a site that speaks to a brainwashed audience not to mention MDN’s constant outbursts about US security organizations. IRS will also be advised to track people who boast about their wealth on here. As it stands all poster IP’s are recorded and ready to be shared with the authorities. You people are sick and dangerous!

        1. Thank you ROBO-COP !

          You are a Genius !!

          You should also ask the US Authorities to appoint you as the Head of US Security !!!

          We all Know that you will do a Great JOB !!!!

          YOU IDIOT.

            1. My father was in the US Army and he earnt his Sergeant stripes. He eventually made LtCol, because he was able to spell.

              Sargent was the name of a famous American painter but never a military rank.

        2. First off, thank you for your service. Second, I suggest that you keep reading more of this site and its commenters. Aside from generally positive attitudes about Apple products there is no common mantra among the readers and posters. There is no brainwashed audience, just reasonable people using various parts of their brains. 
          Regarding MDN’s denouncements of US security agencies, that is a right protected by our constitution to prevent our government from slipping into tyranny. Privacy is also one of Apple’s guiding principles. You would be bearing far to the right to be against these.
          You are also borrowing from far-left if you would treat wealth as a crime. You seem to presume that people who brag about owning stock in a valuable American company that has created financial security for many people, or buy technology from them that can do the same, and spend substantial sums of money on that technology would also cheat on their taxes (because they are rich?).
          Sorry for the full salvo, I hope you can reap from it. If not then go live some life, make some money, earn a place and then see where your postings go. 

        3. ‘Sargent’, this is a sick joke. Right? Or have you been diligently trained in the propaganda art of FUD and are using your post on MDN as part of your final exam?

          In any case, your post is a great example of bizarro thinking. I’m glad I don’t live in that inner world.

        4. And you’re a fuckwit. The fact that you lack the intelligence to be able to correctly spell your supposed rank displays to the world just how embarrassingly stupid you really are, ‘Sergeant’James Nicker.
          Clearly an Android user.

        5. Kind of sad, he thinks he needs to report to US Authorities what’s said over a public website, and gather public IP addressees himself. Not only does show his complete obliviousness of how well their surveillance network could do all that without his help, it’s also demonstrates complete obliviousness of how benign the expression of free speech is here compared many other parts of the web. I hope whatever US Authorities he reports this to just ignores him, and don’t have him arrested for wasting their time (which is paid for by US tax payers.)

    2. Oddly enough that is the first thing I thought of when this was announced. Why would anyone give a tech gadget manufacturer competing for shelf space in your store access to your payment system? This said, Apple Pay has yet to be truly tested in the wild in terms of security. iCloud was easily breached, iPhones are the least secure of the mobile OS space and hacker’s will no doubt have a field day with Apple Pay. Lastly, only 45% of Americans use an iOS device and surely Android, Windows and BlackBerry users will not be shunned by the retailers by promoting an Apple Inc. product as a primary payment system. There is nothing innovative about what Apple is doing as it is old school SIM card based security transposed to NFC.

      1. <iCloud was easily breached, iPhones are the least secure of the mobile OS space…"

        Absurdly false statement, if there ever was one on MDN! I'm just surprised that nobody called you on that yet!

        There has NEVER been a demonstrated breach of security for iCloud. And no, figuring out someone's password and logging in as them is NOT called hacking (or security breach).

        As for the OS security, there is so much documentation about that out there regarding the swiss-cheese security holes of Android, compared to the stability of iOS, the statement is ridiculous to anyone with even most elemental, cursory knowledge of mobile OS security.

        As for ApplePay, I'm not sure what you're referring to by "old-school SIM card-based security", but what ApplePay has is the ONLY mobile payment solution that completely protects the privacy of users' accounts and transactions by using a fake, temporary tokens (rather than actual credit card information) encrypting everything inside a physically separate part of the phone memory. No other mobile payment system comes anywhere near that in terms of security and privacy protection.

    3. CVS got rid of the cigarette sales in their stores and now the Apple customers. Who is left? The smokers covers many of the old, the middle working class, … and the Apple customers that own iPhones and other Apple iOS devices are the young and the people with the cash to spend. So, who are the target customers they are looking for? Time to invest in Walgreens!

  1. I just don’t see how this is a winner strategy for them.

    (a) As I understand it, if NFC is turned on, Apple Pay works. No way to stop it.
    (b) Even granting that MCX has an extensive list of vendors in their stable (some of which I use), they don’t have them all. When I go to check out, I’m supposed to know which vendor is MCX and use their app and which vendors are not and use Apple Pay? How does that even work.

    The problem for middleman vendors like MCX is that Apple has negotiated agreements with Visa, MasterCard and American Express. The expectation is that whereever those logos appear (at least in the US), Apple Pay works.

    But clearly, Apple Pay hurts MCX, perhaps fatally, and they are desperate to the point of harming their vendors in order to survive. If I’m CVS or Rite-Aid or any of MCX’s vendors, I’m right now planning my escape. And if I’m MCX, I’m seriously reconsidering my business model.

      1. Well, I’m guessing that direct access to your bank account (a la Paypal) would avoid the MasterCard/Visa fees. Perhaps CVS sees MCX as a cheaper alternative.

        Penny wise and pound foolish, perhaps.

        1. That is exactly what they’re after … they’re trying to save the 2 – 3% they have to pay to Visa, MC, AMEX, Discover. When you’re giant sized retail stores that process $million / hour, that will make a difference across the entire fleet of stores. They’re real target is not Pay, it’s the credit card companies.

          What I find odd about this course of action is this … I went into my local CVS to purchase a soda, tried to use Pay and it would not work (despite having worked earlier in the week). I took my NFC enabled PNC Debit card out of my wallet, waved it at the same NFC reader, and it worked.

          They didn’t disable NFC, they are just refusing to allow Pay or Google Wallet to be used?? They went to extra steps to disable 2 forms of NFC – Pay and Google Wallet – while leaving the MC PayPass and Visa PayWave systems up and running. That doesn’t make any sense. They don’t have to pay  anything extra to process nab Pay payment, MC, Visa, AMEX are paying  the 0.15% out of their cut.

          In my world, when people want to come into your store and purchase something, you take their money anyway they’re willing to give it to you!

          I won’t go back to CVS again, I’ll go across the street to Walgreens, or down to the street to Meijer next time.

    1. Walgreens has been a gawdsend for my neighborhood. RiteAid has been, in my personal experience, the pharmacy for trash by trash. It’s where you go if you have a masochistic streak. Meanwhile, my Walgreens, even when they’ve pulled massive blunders, have been all over me apologizing and rectifying the situation. The customer is a respected collaborator in the business, the way capitalism was designed to be. I’ll take that!

      CVS is more a neutral for me. I like some of their work fine! They’ve never treated me as trash, which is of course desirable.

      1. Right Aid bought Thrifty’s and screwed it up. Although they kept the ice cream, I have had little desire to get it. I would rather go to Baskin Robins. However I think they too are on the “other side”. Time to go low carb and forget about it. Now I know not to shop at Lowes and Walmart. If I have to shop at these retailers, I am going to use my VISA card, exclusively, but try Apple Pay first. It depends though if there’s an option to go elsewhere I will. Safeway does not have NFC readers. I checked today. Let’s make an effort to notate friendly retailers that work with Apple Pay, but are not on the official list. Let’s give them some love. We could even make stickers and tag these stores. 🙂 Likewise No Apple Pay stickers and tag Rite Aid and CVS.

    1. And you are at the from of the line! Give your head a shake! All it took was MSFT and it’s partners who represent 95% of the PC market to ask these companies to not use Apple Pay. This said, with only 45% of the US market using iOS they are better off playing up to the 55% who care less about the Church of Apple. Apple should have teamed up with BlackBerry and truly offer a secured system and not some transposed SIM card security based NFC solution.

      1. One more absurdly false statement. Not sure, Jeff, where you get your information, but it is simply incorrect.

        I’m really not sure what the “95% of the PC market” (another incorrect number) has to do with mobile payment systems, but it seems that you truly don’t quite understand what you are talking about.

        Neither CVS, nor RiteAid needed to do anything in order to allow ApplePay, nor did they need to turn off ApplePay in order to offer another mobile payment service in addition to ApplePay. By turning off ApplePay, they are simply excluding customers who are affluent, knowledgeable, with disposable income. This is like saying “We will not accept payments from customers who hold post-graduate degrees” — an arbitrary decision to exclude a segment of the potential customers.

        As for Blackberry, their security is a joke, compared to ApplePay solution.

  2. Go to CVS, fill a cart with hundreds of dollars of goods. Go to checkout, and try to use Apple Pay. Huh? Apple Pay doesn’t work? Then leave, I am sure they have to track abandon purchases. Yeah I know it’s a waste of time. But I feel better thinking about it.

    1. As NFC is the accepted technology in Europe and increasingly elsewhere all this would be doing even if it worked would be locking off the US as an island. Big market yes but still can’t ignore everyone else, protectionism won’t work and will rebound badly.

      1. What CVS is doing isn’t protectionism (and before anyone goes off, I am not saying it’s a wise move in the either long or short term).

        They’re backing a standard that competes with ApplePay. If I were going to draw a comparison I’d compare it to the adoption of DVD versus BlueRay (though perhaps the record versus the CD would be more apt).

        Time will tell whether ApplePay or CurrentC is the defacto standard in America, or if there’s room for both.

        Or ApplePay could prove overwhelmingly popular that CVS and others will have to break with CurrentC, which is very possible if enough customers request it (though it also has a lot to do with their stake in CurrentC. If they’re part of some consortium that’s paying for its development, then they would be very reluctant to give it up).

        1. That would be like going with the standard of Master Card while excluding your Visa customers.

          CVS isn’t in the banking business. Their priority should be what their customers want. That means supporting both standards.

      2. NFC is NOT the accepted technology in Europe. Chip and PIN is, where there is a chip embedded in the card, which you insert into the machine, and then you type in a PIN to authorize the transaction.


          Chip-n-PIN for larger values, but NFC for everything else where total less than £20/€30/$30 — food, pharma, newsstand, fuel, etc.

          In London you can use NFC cards on buses and tube trains too.

          It’s everywhere and I use it multiple times a day.

          1. Precisely; chip & pin is fine for transactions up from twenty pounds, but it’s a pain for small transactions like magazines or drinks, and NFC a is already starting to appear in retail outlets in the UK, as well as public transport systems in cities outside of London.
            I have an Oyster Card for London’s Underground, but it would be great to be able to use my phone via TfL’s Oyster app.

    2. And those retailers are places like Walmart, Best Buy, 7-11, all places that I patronize less than annually. Yeah, that’s really going to compete with all the major businesses that don’t cater to the hee haw crowd, and all the major banks and credit cards.

  3. So they plan to counteract Apple Pay with their own QR code based app yet to come that has little to no security – and even they pass fraud to the customer in their T&Cs – plus takes customer’s money directly from their checking accounts.. Sure they are…

    This really sounds more like a bargaining stick to wrestle lower fees from the banks for that group merchants. I doubt there’s even any app in the making.

    1. I quit shopping at CVS long ago. Down here in Jurassic Park Florida I’ve noticed a larger influx of people going to the local Walgreen’s here. Prices are better and since they adopted Apple Pay I noticed quite a few of the people in line using Apple Pay. No struggles at all. Walgreen’s had also adopted Contactless where I and many others use European credit cards which is never a problem. Have to give credit to Walgreen’s for jumping on the band wagon so quickly. CVS is doomed.

      1. Walgreen’s is also the largest retailer in the USA to provide Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for their patrons who drive electric vehicles. With Apple Pay and EV charging stations, it sounds like Walgreens has a vision for the future.

  4. Sent an email to CVS this morning explaining why my business is moving to Walgreens. Also pointed out that I’m fairly certain Apple won’t be supporting their payment system so kiss millions of Apple users goodbye!

    1. Hey ChiMac. Thanks for the idea. I sent them a nastygram too. Wish everyone would do that (kinda like when FitBit said it wouldn’t support the Health app and now there are 66 pages and counting of people ticked off about it on their “Feature Suggestion” page) Even though our closest Walgreen’s is not “across the street”, we’re there starting today. Even if Pay was never introduced and CVS rolled out it’s CurrentC wallet, I wouldn’t touch it.

      1. Lets talk numbers. Only the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 + will be able to use Apple Pay. And lets say – ballpark, 15 million in American hands. That’s like what, 4% of the population. And of those 15M, quite a lot of them are probably unaware of Apple Pay. But I’ll be generous and say 50%. That’s how CVS and Rite-Aid are looking at it. The numbers aren’t significant enough. YET.

  5. This is dumb: it violates the first rule of retailing- when the customer is ready to buy, take their money. Every retailer should make this process as simple as possible for the customer.

    I’m going to give CVS and Rite Aid dome slack here- maybe with the increase in use by Apple Customers their systems may be overwhelmed.

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