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CVS finally accepting mobile payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay

By Jules Wang October 11, 2018, 7:20 pm

After several years of holding out on allowing contactless payment methods from cards to mobile payments, CVS Health has started accepting them.

Apple told Apple Pay users of the news.

CVS has had NFC-enabled point-of-sales terminals for at least the past six years, but the drugstore chain had long wanted to find a successful way to retain customers through their mobile devices. It joined the Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX in 2014, joining competing chain Rite Aid in supporting an app called CurrentC.

It relied on customers creating an app-specific debit account to bypass credit processing fees and required them to submit their Social Security Number to do so. MCX members were required to prohibit competing mobile payment solutions — Rite Aid would leave the group in 2015 and start accepting NFC-based payments.

But as Apple Pay and Google’s mobile payments solutions gained traction, CurrentC went bust in June of 2016. It was sold to JPMorgan Chase, chopped for parts and repackaged as QR code-based Chase Pay. MCX retailers went their own way, submitting to mainstream systems as Rite Aid did or going their own way in developing showcase and payment apps. CVS created the imaginatively-titled CVS Pay in August that year, but limited its application to the automation of prescription refills.

Then came the decision this month to finally activate its NFC terminals at its registers — because everything around CVS had changed and CVS had not.

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