It’s been little over a week since Apple released iOS 8.1; the update which, among other things, unlocked the ability for iPhone 6 & 6 Plus owners to utilize Apple Pay, the company’s NFC-enabled payments solution.
Personally, I’ve used Apple Pay a couple times at Walgreens– and, just in these few attempts, I’ve realized that I would definitely prefer using this payment option at more retailers if it were available. However, over this past weekend, a couple of popular pharmacy-based stores– Rite Aid and CVS —have decided to suspended all NFC payment activity, including Apple Pay and Google Wallet; meaning there are even less places where wallet-less checkouts can be made.
Why, you ask? According to various reports (including the Mashable link referenced above), both outlets (and Target, Walmart, Kmart, 7-11, plus more) are working on integrating a QR code-based payment processor called CurrentC into their respective venues. CurrentC works by accessing consumers’ bank accounts or their merchant-issued debit cards directly– therefore, retailers are able to by-pass costly credit card fees entirely.
Interesting, yes; but, CurrentC, specifically, has two significant drawbacks:
- It utilizes QR Codes. While many of us in the digital space were excited with the potential of this tech when it first was introduced, it hasn’t, historically, had a good adoption rate. In addition, it’s rather clunky to use in a real-world retail checkout situation (can you imagine low-tech consumers trying to figure out how to use these during the holiday rush??), especially compared to the ‘tap-and-go’ capabilities of NFC.
- After the Target data breach, and the countless others that preceded and come since, do any of you feel comfortable with a retailer accessing your bank account directly?! Because I sure as hell don’t. And, I can imagine, many consumers won’t, either.
The idea of bypassing escalating credit card transaction fees certainly piques retailer interest; however, IMO, CurrentC in its present incarnation won’t be the way to do that.
Besides, blocking Apple Pay is just another example of corporations not putting consumers first. Why hinder your customers’ ability to willingly pay for goods and services you provide? Sure, you’ll pay credit card fees with Apple Pay– but, if my guess is accurate, you’ll be paying them anyway when QR code-based checkouts don’t pan out. It’s just a matter of how those credit card transactions are to be processed; and, let’s face it– the future of payments is on people’s phones, not in their back pocket.
I can’t fault retailers who haven’t yet incorporated NFC-based card readers; however, for those like Rite Aid and CVS, who’ve already invested in the technology, blocking Apple Pay makes little sense to consumers.
Maybe, one day, corporations will actually start being concerned with that concept again.