CVS has always had an odd relationship with mobile wallets. It switched off NFC acceptance in 2014 to protest Apple Pay's launch (and express solidarity with the now-defunct CurrentC retailer wallet), and never bothered to switch NFC back on in the years since.
Instead, CVS developed CVS Pay
, which 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.
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.
CVS will rely on its customers' existing use of digital technology to drive adoption of its mobile payments app. The CVS Pay feature is designed to tie into other interactions that come before the payment. In this way, it is similar to the wildly successful Starbucks
app, which provides a way to reload balances and check rewards before the customer needs to make a payment.