CVS Pharmacy has decided to disable all NFC terminals in all of its stores after it was discovered that Apple Pay would work with the hardware. CVS sent a memo to its stores, which was posted by SlashGear, saying that Apple Pay was not a supported payment type and that customers would have to choose some other payment method in order to check out.

The notice also explains the reason for the change: CVS is currently part of a consortium of retailers attempted to create an alternative mobile payment method called CurrentC. The new system isn’t based on NFC. It is, however, based on something you’ve probably seen before…

Please note that we do not accept Apple Pay at this time. However we are currently working with a group of large retailers to develop a mobile wallet that allows for mobile payments attached to credit cards and bank accounts directly from a smart phone. We expect to have this feature available in the first half of 2015.

If customers attempt to pay for a transaction with Apple Pay, a message will prompt both customer and cashier for a different form of payment. Please instruct cashiers to apologize to the customer and explain that we do not currently accept Apple Pay, but will have our own mobile wallet next year.

CurrentC, which was detailed today by TechCrunch, is, quite frankly, a horrible attempt at creating a mobile payment system that doesn’t rely on technology like NFC (which Apple doesn’t allow third-parties to access at this time), and instead uses a complex system of—I kid you not—QR codes.

How does it work? Well, get this: first the payment terminal shows you a QR code which you scan using your phone. The phone then presents a QR code, which the cashier scans using a separate QR code reader. Here’s the best worst part: because these stores want to save money by cutting out the payment networks like MasterCard and Visa in these transactions, they will link CurrectC directly to your checking account, not your credit card.

Sounds great so far, right? Hang on, we’re not done yet. CurrentC is specifically designed to make it easier to track customers’ shopping habits. While Apple Pay was designed with privacy in mind, CurrentC is essentially the opposite, and was built for the sole purpose of making you easier to track by storing your receipts and other data on the service’s cloud server.

Oh, and it’s going to need access to your health data for some reason.


Helpful diagram via TechCrunch

Because the coalition of retailers wasting time on this system has decided that any store using it must use it exclusively, you can expect the following stores to adopt the QR-code based system in leiu of Apple Pay or any other NFC payment system:

  • 7-Eleven
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond
  • Best Buy
  • Chilis
  • CVS
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • K-Mart
  • Lowe’s
  • Sears
  • Target
  • Wal-Mart
  • Wendy’s
  • And about 46 others

But hey, they’re going to offer coupons to people who use it. That’s totally worth forking over your health data and checking account info, right?

CurrentC is expected to roll out in stores some time in 2015, but you can already download the CurrentC application for free on the iTunes App Store. You can also rate it and leave reviews, for whatever that’s worth.

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