Why Are Retailers Blocking Apple Pay?

The US giant Walmart and a few other retailers have halted their NFC payments at checkouts because they’re rolling out CurrentC next year. That means that Android users can’t pay for goods with their phones and iPhone users can’t pay with the newly available Apple Pay. Let’s just say that most people are unhappy about this.

What is CurrentC?

Well, it’s essentially another way of paying for goods in stores using your mobile phone, however, it’s a bit complicated. It relies on the customer scanning a QR code (click here to see one) with their phone’s camera OR generating a QR code on their phone which the cashier scans. To pay there are several steps involved:

  1. Open CurrentC app
  2. Open code scanner
  3. Scan QR code

These three steps are far less convenient than simply tapping your phone (or card) against the contactless symbol, which NFC allows.

Why does Walmart want CurrentC?

Money. Simply put, when you pay for goods via credit card, the store has to pay credit card fees which eats into their profit margin. With CurrentC, the store will not have to pay these fees.

Additionally, CurrentC stores and shares customer data including information such as location details, health data (weird), and transactions for marketing purposes.

Do Customers want CurrentC?

No. For customers, the payment method is clunky and doesn’t rely on new technology like NFC. It’s not fast or convenient. People don’t want to share their data with stores (or anyone) and there’s also a huge risk of fraud if your phone should get lost or stolen.

Alternatives to CurrentC

NFC is available in most new Android phones making it easy for a quick checkout but the simplest and most secure option is Apple Pay released in the US just this month.

Paying with Apple Pay is easy. Simply hold your iPhone 6 against the contactless reader at checkout with your thumb on the TouchID. That’s it. No need to open up any apps or press anything and it only takes a second.

The security is a little technical but put simply – your bank details, card information, name or other data is never shared with Apple or the retailer and your card information is not stored on the phone at all. If your phone is stolen, you won’t have to worry about others buying stuff because your fingerprint is needed.

Stores that are rolling out CurrentC may be able to get customers onboard by offering discounts for using it and for some people that’s enough of an incentive. However, it’s simply not secure enough or simple enough and for that reason we don’t think it will catch on. In fact there are a number of threads on Reddit where people have written letters boycotting Walmart and others until Apple Pay and NFC is reinstated in their stores.

For the first time in history, Android and iOS users unite.