Boycott CVS and Rite Aid

“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.

Related articles:
Bad business: CVS and Rite Aid antagonize their most well-heeled customers by blocking Apple Pay – October 27, 2014
CVS stores reportedly disabling NFC to shut down Apple Pay – October 25, 2014
iPhone users earn significantly more than those who settle for Android phones – October 8, 2014
Yet more proof that Android is for poor people – June 27, 2014
More proof that Android is for poor people – May 13, 2014
Apple’s iOS dominates in richer countries, Android in poorer regions – March 25, 2014
Twitter heat map shows iPhone use by the affluent, Android by the poor – June 20, 2013
iPhone users smarter, richer than Android phone users – August 16, 2011
Yankee Group: Apple iPhone owners shop more, buy more, remain more loyal vs. other device users – July 20, 2010

83 Comments

    1. i think cvs built a store next to just about every walgreens in the city where i live. it is kind of like microsoft putting up a store near an apple store but way more obvious.

        1. And Microsoft is opening stores (I think they’re stores, maybe they’re just warehouses, I’ve never seen anyone besides employees and kids playing xbox in one) next to Apple stores. At least in CVS’s case it makes financial sense…
          I finally got a chance to try Apple Pay in a Duane Reade this morning… flawless. Was so fast I had to ask the cashier if it was really done. Can’t wait for it to become ubiquitous.

    1. I suggest Apple Pay and Not Apple Pay stickers, and reward vendors that support Apple Pay (listed or not, incidental or not) and tag those that do not support Apple Pay.

      Or another trick, just stick supports Apple Pay on everyone’s door, and then watch the frustration at the check out when people try and it doesn’t work.

  1. >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.

    What a hassle. Nobody is going to use this.

    1. I’m enough of a gadget geek that I’d give scanning QR codes a try — if I could use my credit card. Linking my checking account is just stupid. No way. No f***in’ way.

      But even if I could use my credit card, I think scanning QR codes would seem like a major PITA after just a few purchases and I’d just go back to swiping my card.

      BTW, It’s great to have an enemy again, isn’t it? I look forward to MCX suffering the same fate as Creative, BuyMusic.com, and soon, Samsung: ground to paste under Apple’s heels.

      ——RM

    1. No.

      If the CurrentC app is already available, pulling it exposes them to accusations of anti-competive behaviour, yet again.

      Apple has nothing to fear, and in fact benefits from people trying to use this, as they see just what a ridiculously stupid PITA it is to use compared to ApplePay.

      1. So why is what these companies are doing not anti competitive then? At some stage I would say that Apple should certainly hang this over their heads if it becomes especially obstructive in practice. That is unlikely mind as it is a dead end alternative NFC is going to be the standard elsewhere in the World where using it on phones to enter clubs, transit and hotel rooms will become the norm. Not sure how QR codes are going to compete with that flexibility.

        1. I’m not saying what these companies are doing *isn’t* anti-competive. Just that Apple shouldn’t have to waste their time (and that of Apple defenders like us) dealing with the obvious negative media spin that would result from pulling the app, and with it suggestions that it “can’t compete” on a level playing field.

          In this situation Apple and its customers are the victims, and CurrentC is getting a lot of negative attention because it’s a very obviously inferior system. Pull the app, and the resulting unjustified negative media furor against Apple means more people discover it and try it. Even if those are mostly on the Android version, it would still help boost CurrentC’s numbers and give it legitimacy. And frankly, I think that might be CurrentC’s target market: those on low-end Androids, they suffer with slow systems already, an extra inconvenience with the QR code might mean little to them.

          The big rule in advertising applies: if you’re #1 (or soon to be), then promote your own product, but don’t acknowledge or increase awareness of #2 and below.

      2. Apple has every right to decide what does and does not make it into their store. It’s the same thing as CVS deciding not to sell cigarettes. Cigarettes are harmful and so is this crappy app. The reason why this app is harmful is the participator might have their bank account drained if hacked. There is no fraud protection with this CurrentC system. User beware. The app is a menace to society and must be scourged from the face of the planet. Poof… All gone.

        This is what I think might happen: Walmart or Best Buy will give a free Android or Windows phone to consumers that sign into the CurrentC system. They will give away millions of phones to those that don’t know about the pitfalls of CurrentC. Europe will follow and ban NFC. Within a year or so there will be a major hack and millions of people will lose their life savings. It will be a worldwide calamity and cause a complete financial meltdown. Put that in your AI machine.

        1. Save the “Apple has every right….” line for when it counts. It’s tired and overused, and no one disputes this.

          Read my follow-up comment to spyintheuk, I’m saying it’s not only unnecessary, it will only make your implausible scenario slightly more likely to happen, since banning the CurrentC app on iOS will do nothing, NOTHING, to prevent its backers from giving free phones like you suggest they will, plus they’ll get a free boost from the “Banned by Apple!!!” spin that would result.

          1. At this point in time, CurrentC is an obscure app. The blowback would be minimal, especially if removed from the store in a couple of weeks. The situation would be much different if Apple banned an established app like Google maps.

            Another consideration is what will happen when millions of free phone people begin using the service? If the app was not available on iPhones it could hinder Apple sales. I’m sure the planners at Apple are calculating the impact and we will know soon enough. My educated guess is that the millions that do get a free CurrentC phone will be the type that purchase cheap Android phones. These people don’t care about privacy/security or they are completely clueless. So, there won’t be lost iPhone sales with this group because they will always get the junk. My concern is if these retailers eventually ban traditional credit/debit cards. When this happens iPhone users will demand the CurrentC app and this will lead to the slippery slope of financial calamity.

  2. Not going to either place until they give us customers the option to use Apple Pay. They can have there own service to but they also need to give the customer the choice to use Apple Pay or I won’t shop there anymore.

    1. What I’m really tired of, is each week hearing another store I recently shopped at had a security breach and all of their stored customer data is in the open. Pay solves those worries for me, but beyond CVS & Rite Aid turning off Pay, there are just too many stores that do not have NFC yet. So … for stores I can use Pay in, I do. For stores I can’t – I’m going old school and using cash.

      I have reported all of my credit cards as lost, and had them replaced. Any of my credit card numbers that are stored, or stolen, are now useless. The new cards are entered into Pay, then filed away in my safe. I’m done with potential security breaches and data mining, so it’s either Pay or cash from now on.

      So the likes of CurrentC will be lost on me – if they don’t take Pay, they get cash, and they can’t get data via either of those methods of payment!

  3. If these retailers want more data on what I am buying, then find a way to work with Apple to also transfer my rewards card info to the terminal or via an App while I am making my purchase. For some stores I would be glad to do this, others, I want privacy.

    So a big FU to CVS.

  4. “If a QR code can’t be generated, a manually entered numeric code may be offered.”

    That’s right- you know just like in a supermarket like they used to do in the 70s or like how they do now when the scanner doesn’t work properly.

  5. After having read the article on techcrunch.com this morning about CurrentC – I’m now fearful that the other companies that are in the CurrentC consortium, but are currently allowing Pay payments, may soon follow CVS & Rite Aids lead on turning off Pay via their NFC terminals. (Especially Meijer as that’s where I do the most shopping.)

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