Walmart's Answer To Apple Pay Sounds Terrible

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Retailers are rejecting Apple’s mobile payment system, Apple Pay.

This weekend, CVS and Rite Aid shut down their NFC systems that accepted Apple Pay, and Google Wallet. Walmart is also rejecting Apple Pay.

These stores are rejecting Apple Pay because they have their own mobile payment system in the works. It’s an app called “CurrentC.”

Josh Constine at TechCrunch has a big look at CurrentC. It doesn’t sound good.

Here’s how it works: When it’s time to pay for something, you get a QR code served to you on a payment terminal. You then open your phone, open the CurrentC app, then scan the QR code to pay. It can also work in reverse, where you open your phone, and you have a QR code, and the retailer scans the code.

Compare that to Apple Pay, which works like this: When it’s time to pay, take out your phone, hold it to the payment terminal, then use the phone’s fingerprint scanner to pay, and you’re done.

Or, compare both to credit cards: When it’s time to pay, take out your credit card, swipe it, sign, and be on your way.

Why are retailers doing CurrentC? Because they hate paying credit card companies 2%-3% on each transaction. CurrentC is run through banks/debit cards, which avoids those fees.

CurrentC is the product of a consortium of US retailers called MCX, which is led by Walmart. Members of MCX account for 1 in 5 retail dollars spent in the US.

In 2013, FierceRetailIT reported that MCX was signing retailers to exclusive 3-year deals. Retailers couldn’t use any other mobile payments systems over a 3-year period that either started in 2012, or 2013. That’s likely the reason CVS and Rite Aid are shutting down their NFC readers. They’re probably contractually obligated.

Beyond being clunky to use, CurrentC also sounds invasive. To sign up, it supposedly wants your social security number and driver’s licence number to verify who you are. The app itself collects a lot of data on you, including health data, and location.

For these reasons, we predict CurrentC is going to be dead on arrival. It’s worse than using a credit card, and it’s creepy.

It’s going to be a bit of a set back for Apple in the near term, but in the long run it shouldn’t be a problem. Retailers want to make paying for stuff as easy, and as secure, as possible. If Apple Pay is an easy secure solution that people actually want to use, then retailers will adopt Apple Pay as soon as they are out of their contract with MCX.

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