Apple Pay is up and running and being accepted in stores all across the nation. That’s what the story SHOULD be. And, it was, earlier this week, until pharmacy chain Rite Aid suddenly decided not to allow customers to pay using Apple Pay. According to MacRumors, Rite Aid, though not an official partner of Apple Pay, was accepting payments through the new system, since NFC (near field communications) was already installed in their payment terminals.
But, sometime during the week, an apparent decision was made by Rite Aid to stop accepting Apple Pay. Yesterday, CVS, another major pharmacy chain. decided to follow suit and began shutting down NFC entirely in it’s payment terminals, cutting payments from both Apple Pay and Google Wallet. MacRumors says that reports on their forums and Twitter indicate that CVS has sent an email to its stores stating the NFC should be turned off. SlashGear reported that an internal message was circulating through Rite Aid instructing cashiers to explain to customers that Apple Pay is not supported and that their new payment system will be available next year.
The aforementioned payment system, CurrentC, is a joint venture of the Merchant Customer Exchange, a group of retail heavyweights formed in 2012 that includes Best Buy, Walmart, Target and others. The CurrentC system will compete directly with Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Even though, as of now. CurrentC does not exist and no banks have been mentioned as part of the the deal. According to Patrick Moorhead of Moor Strategy and Insights, “Apple Pay, I believe, was viewed as a threat and therefore — even though they supported Google Wallet — they seemed to back away from it and not support it, and cut off consumers from their ability to transact.”
It seems that in the thinking of Rite Aid and CVS, giving customers the convenience of NFC payments is secondary to making sure that prohibitive policies are in place to stop competition. Both CVS and Rite Aid declined to respond to requests seeking comment on the development.