Walmart says MCX has consumers’ ‘best interests in mind’ by not accepting …

28 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Pay blocked at CVS, Rite Aid.

Apple’s mobile payment technology ran into a roadblock a week after its introduction as CVS and Rite Aid, members of a consortium developing a competing system, disabled Apple Pay in their drugstores. “Our customers found it too easy and convenient,” according to a fake company spokesperson whom I made up because I’m disappointed and spiteful. “To say nothing of the fact that it encouraged people to shop more at our stores.CHICAGO (Reuters) – Some large U.S. retailers are refusing to use Apple Inc’s APPL.O new electronic payments service as they commit to developing a rival payments system that would bolster their profits by eliminating credit card transaction fees.

Letting customers use a safer and more secure method of payment is just plain bananas,” the spokesperson said, before handing me a 7-foot-long banner of coupons and special offers. On Monday, major drugstore chain CVS joined rival Rite Aid in disabling the NFC (near-field communication) payment function on in-store terminals. “Rite Aid does not currently accept Apple Pay. We are continually evaluating various forms of mobile payment technologies, and are committed to offering convenient, reliable and secure payment methods that meet the needs of our customers,” it said. MasterCard said it was “disappointed that both Rite Aid and CVS have decided to block their customers from using the payment method of their choice,” but it’s unclear if the card network can do anything about it.

Fees range between 2 percent and 3 percent of costs per transaction. “”The economics and benefits of having your own payment system is definitely one of the main reasons,” said Hitesh Sheth, chief executive of retail technology cybersecurity firm Vectra Networks. Apple’s entry into mobile payments follows efforts by Square, Google and Softcard — a wallet application backed by the three largest U.S. wireless carriers — that all failed to gain widespread acceptance. On Friday, a source at MasterCard said the organization was looking into whether Rite Aid’s disabling of NFC contravenes retailer card acceptance guidelines. An internal email obtained by SlashGear told store employees to explain to disappointed customers that Rite Aid planned to have its own electronic wallet system available in 2015. Apple Pay, unveiled just last month, is a mobile payment app that allows consumers to buy things by simply holding their iPhone6 and 6 Plus devices up to readers installed by store merchants.

They cannot discriminate against cards issued by certain banks, but acceptance of NFC payments or chip-and-PIN is solely at the discretion of the retailer, said Visa. Unlike Apple Pay and Google Wallet, CurrentC is controlled by the retailers themselves and appears to be a move to break away from card-based payments and networks. It is worked with the major banks and credit card companies — Visa, MasterCard and American Express — that Apple says account for more than 80 percent of U.S. credit card purchases, allowing the iPhone maker to piggyback on their checkout systems. As advertised, CurrentC will have users create an account and then show a barcode generated by their mobile phone to a cashier, who will then scan the barcode to initiate a transaction. CVS did not respond to queries seeking comment but a visit to two CVS stores showed the NFC (Near Field Communications) reader on which Apple Pay was used has been deactivated.

The barcode payment method isn’t as elegant as Apple Pay, which only requires the user hold a phone over a payment terminal while keeping their thumb on the phone’s fingerprint reader. Pay by selecting CurrentC on the payment terminal; manually launch a special app on your phone; manually select a payment function; aim phone camera at a QR code displayed by the terminal.

Good luck getting your money back if criminals successfully get into CurrentC’s systems and drain thousands of dollars of actual money from your actual checking account. If the MCE has placed any consumer protections whatsoever against freely sharing your personal transaction information among members, there isn’t a whisper of that to be found on their corporate website. There’s no reason not to believe that when you order the Garlic Glutton’s Gorge at the Olive Garden, that information will be immediately sent to CVS to help them sell you mouthwash and breath mints. So: CurrentC is harder to use, it makes your banking information vulnerable to a whole new entity, this entity is utterly unproven, and every purchase you make adds another piece of data to an expanding and increasingly valuable marketing dossier on you and your habits. To avoid paying transaction fees to credit card companies: These stores can save a few percent per purchase by moving money directly out of your checking account.

I’m amazed that Merchant Customer Exchange retailers — many of which are run by people who have received some form of formal education, I guess — are ignorant of the hard lessons learned by the music industry during the turn of the millennium. An opportunity to create a terrible format that served every need and many fantasy scenarios of Sony Music, and create a customer experience that was wretchedly horrible in every conceivable way! All of the music they’d ripped from CDs that they legally owned, everything they might have bought elsewhere, everything they might have recorded themselves … all of it got thrown into Sony DRM Jail.

Their music collection became a “library” in a very real sense: Copying music to an external device or a different library required that they “check it out.” What if they wanted to listen to it again, on your home PC? Go to hell; you bring that music player right back here, young man or lady, and sign it back in before Sony will even consider allowing you to ever hear your daughter’s holiday recital!

I once called customer service while testing the system and was told, in cheery seriousness, that perhaps Sir should just buy a second copy of the album, “for maximum playback flexibility.” In Sony’s fantasy scenario, the system was a way to finally lock the consumer out of behavior that a music publisher finds inconvenient. Customers had been doing those things for decades, via CD, tape and LP formats, but Sony would like to goddamn know just how the hell any of it benefitted Sony in any way. Apple had a point when it opened the iTunes Store: If music publishers wanted to fight piracy, Apple said, then they had to build a system that made buying music easier than stealing it. The iTunes Store opened with a much more flexible DRM system in place, and the behind-the-scenes drive to eliminate DRM entirely was already long underway.

The worst-case scenario for CurrentC isn’t as bad as that: Taking things from CVS is the sort of capital-“S” stealing that attracts the attentions of store security and the local gendarmes. But they’ve loaded it with so much anti-consumer claptrap that every tech journalist and educator has placed it on their “Actively warn people against using it” list. But I did discover that the MCE’s headquarters is in Needham, Massachusetts, a town that I drive through every time I go to The Outer Limits in Waltham to buy comics. The difference between Middle-Aged Andy and previous editions is that whereas all of us realize that we could totally go over there and TP their offices on Halloween, only 16-year-old Andy would be able to hook up that idle thought to the twin engines of serene self-righteousness and a frolicking disregard for consequences.

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