First it was Rite Aid, and now CVS is disabling support for NFC payments. That means all you Apple Pay and Google Wallet users will have to use plain old cash and plastic. Perhaps the digital wallet future isn’t here just yet.
According to internal documents, the problem seems to center on a mobile payment system called CurrentC, which is being developed by the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCE) and is set to launch next year. Both CVS and Rite Aid are seemingly involved with the new system, which means it has no intention of supporting any other alternatives—whether that’s Apple Pay or Google Wallet, it doesn’t matter.
There are some reports on Twitter saying NFC has been turned off at CVS locations across the U.S., presumably until this new CurrentC system is available to consumers. It’s worth noting that neither Rite Aid or CVS was announced as official Apple Pay partners, so the move isn’t all that surprising. It is, however, a minor blow to those hoping to ditch their wallets for an all-digital alternative.
As of now, Walgreens seems to be one of a few pharmacy chains willing to embrace Apple Pay (and other NFC solutions). Other big retailers involved with CurrentC, which aim to cut out credit card companies altogether, include Walmart and Best Buy. Similar to Apple Pay, purchases made through CurrentC are protected by a pay code that’s unique to every purchase, though information lives in the cloud, not on a secure element on your device.