Apple Pay vs. CurrentC, which will win?

October 28, 2014

Some of the largest retailers in the country have stopped accepting Apple Pay and are currently testing their own mobile wallet product.

Apple Pay was introduced last week and more than 220,000 stores immediately started accepting the new payment technology. Recently, Rite Aid and CVS stopped accepting Apple Pay, according to The NY Times. The two pharmacy retailers are joined by WalMart and Best Buy in a joint venture called the Merchant Customer Exchange, reported ABC News. Together they announced that they are working on CurrentC  – a mobile payments technology that is expected to be rolled out in 2015.

Chief executive officer of Merchant Customer Exchange Dekker Davidson commented that its mobile payment technology will allow interesting exchanges to happen between customers and merchants.

“It will offer merchants new and exciting channels to engage with customers, strengthen relationships, and enjoy more control of transaction data,” said Davidson in a statement last month, according to ABC News.

CVS and Rite Aid switch off NFC
CVS and Rite Aid made a decision to switch off their NFC enabled point of sale devices, according to the news source. This means that Apple Pay, Google Wallet and PayPal will not longer be accepted at stores.

A Rite Aid spokesperson said that the company is working on offering convenient and reliable payment technology for customers. CVS also issued a statement explaining that other options are being looked into.

“[CVS] cannot accept Apple Pay or other mobile payments that use NFC technology…We are in the process of evaluating mobile payment options for our customers,” the company said in a statement, according to ABC News. 

Apple Pay and CurrentC are different
While it may seem that CurrentC is meant to compete with Apple Pay, the truth is the two technologies are quite different. In order to use Apple Pay, customers must own an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Apple Pay requires NFC enabled readers. CurrentC on the other hand will use codes generated from an app, so any device that carries the app can be used. Both technologies do, however, allow for transactions to occur through one simple motion. 

Another difference between the two technologies is that Apple Pay does not transmit any customer information to merchants when a transaction occurs. Apple devices generate a unique code that is only processed by consumers’ banks. CurrentC will store customer financial data in a cloud vault, according to the new source. It is not yet known if CurrentC will track user purchases.

It is known that large retailers rely on customer information to come up with sales strategies and targeted marketing campaigns. Also, customer loyalty programs and discounts are an important part of retailer sales generation methods. Apple Pay will reduce the impact of these programs because less customer information being stored will mean less targeted marketing. Additionally, Apple Pay does not currently have loyalty programs built in to it, so to use a corporate branded card, a customer would swipe their phone and also present a card to the sales associate. 

How popular is Apple Pay so far?
While the popularity of Apple Pay has not yet fully been gaged, it is clear that some consumers like it a lot. Chase Bank told Bloomberg that on the first day the technology was made available, seven times more people added Chase credit cards to Apple Pay than applied for new credit cards, according to the NY Times. Additionally, when CVS and Rite Aid stopped accepting Apple Pay, angry customers went to post their criticisms on Twitter.

It is clear that this will be a hotly debated topic in the future. Apple seems to be more aligned with customer interests. Retailers on the other hand are more interested in pushing for their own mobile payment technology in order to drive sales figures.

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