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US pharmacies disable NFC access to inhibit Apple Pay

If it was easy, everyone would do it…or Google Wallet would already be a roaring success. However, it isn’t, and Apple Pay is now discovering its entry into the payments ecosystem will be hard fought, as two of the US’s biggest pharmacy chains moved to disabled NFC terminals in an attempt to shut out Apple Pay ahead of the launch of retailer-backed platform CurrentC in 2015.

In a leaked internal memo published on SlashGear, it was revealed that Rite Aid, a US

Apple Pay launches in the US

Apple Pay launches in the US

pharmacy chain deliberately modified or disabled NFC eftpos terminals to prevent access for customers wishing to use Apple Pay.

In an internal e-mail sent to a shift supervisor it was revealed that CVS, another US pharmacy chain, has now followed suit in disabling customers from using Apple’s payment technology.

Both pharmacy chains are part of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MXC) consortium, which is launching a rival mobile payments platform, dubbed CurrentC. The venture was set up in 2012 by numerous merchants including 7-Eleven, Target and Wal-Mart and is backed by tech partners FIS, Gemalto and Paydiant.

The modification to the pharmacy NFC terminals will also shut out other competing platforms including those from telco-backed SoftCard and Google Wallet.

Following Apple’s launch of Apple Pay last month, major retailers Wal-Mart and Best Buy both confirmed they will not be signing up to the system.

Rather than using NFC technology, CurrentC will use a QR-code system displayed on the merchant’s point of sale which is then scanned by the customer’s phone. CurrentC will automatically apply discounts, initiate loyalty programs and withdraw funds from a customer’s current accounts – cutting out credit-card processing fees.

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