Pushing back on NFC, years after everyone else gave in
CVS stores shut off their ability to accept NFC payments shortly after Apple Pay launched. At the time, this move was seen as a contractual obligation to the retailer's support of the CurrentC wallet. But CurrentC never made it out of pilot.
Even the launch of CVS Pay
didn't change CVS's antagonistic stance on NFC. CVS Pay, launched in 2016, recognizes that the biggest pain point in CVS stores is not the process of moving money, but the many other interactions that occur at the point of sale.
A customer getting medicine may need to provide a prescription, ID, birth date, PIN, loyalty card and other information before they even get to the payment. By putting all of these things into a mobile app, CVS
is attempting to remove every obstacle that leads up to the payment.
This is especially important for CVS, which has focused far more of its mobile development on non-payment services. In 2013, it introduced a 3D shopping
feature to its iPad app, which also handles coupons through a QR code scanner.
Walgreens, a CVS competitor, has taken a similar approach to mobile technology. Its 2011 "Refill by Scan
" feature lets consumers request prescription refills by scanning bar codes with a smartphone's camera. The Balance Financial Prepaid Mastercard
, launched in 2013, similarly streamlines the experience by combining a payments card with a loyalty card.
The payment is a vital part to any such innovation, but it is not an easy part to bring to market. Two gigantic brands, Walmart and Apple, have both had problems getting consumers on board with their branded mobile payment systems. Apple
has struggled to gain traction, partly because it gives little control to consumers, issuers and merchants over how to fund its mobile wallet for each transaction. And Walmart Pay
struggled at the onset, due in part to marketing and training issues.