Apple Pay launched last week. In store, it's a secure way to pay for items using existing NFC technology, authorized by Touch ID fingerprint technology. It in no way precludes the use of other NFC-enabled payment systems, including credit and debit cards, or other platforms or apps. It's easy to use, lightning fast, and extremely customer friendly. It's also private, not releasing transactional information beyond what the retailer needs to process the payment. So, CVS and Rite Aid are both going so far as to disable NFC support in general just to make sure no one tries to use Apple Pay in their stores. Yes, they'd rather hobble their transactional systems entirely than let their customers use Apple Pay. They'd rather use their own system, CurrentC, which looks about as insecure, non-private, and poorly architected as you'd imagine it would.
While I'm sure retailers want transactional data, I don't think they really need it. Most customers will willingly give away far more personal information in exchange for "loyalty program" participation anyway, and market basket analysis is sophisticated enough that retailers can get significant marketing data anyway. CurrentC smells like a way to get loyalty-level data without having to provide commensurate rewards, and if there's a holy grail in retail, it's the lowest possible offer.
Also last week, Apple shipped the iPad Air 2 with an Apple SIM. It allows customers to choose their carrier and plan dynamically and, theoretically, change their carrier as their needs or location change. Most carriers around the world don't support it. Verizon in the U.S. doesn't support it. AT&T does support it, but decided to lock it to their network the moment you choose one of their plans, effectively rendering its dynamism useless. Yes, they'd rather waste SIM cards then let their customers shop around.
Neither of these are new or novel occurrences. The entertainment industry has, for example, tries to foist several dodgy digital-rights management schemes on us over the years, which have done little more than ensure legitimate customers have had poor to terrible viewing experiences. Witness Ultraviolet.
The result is I refuse to use Ultraviolet. If and when Apple SIM or Apple Pay come to Canada, I will refuse to use any carrier or retailer that doesn't support them.
Apple is currently deploying technologies that are in my best interest as a consumer. (They can afford to based on their hardware-centric business model.) Those who aren't supporting those technologies are doing it for their own, often diametrically opposed, best interests. If they won't support the technologies that support me, I won't support them.
I understand they fear what they can't control. I understand they want to profit off my private information. I understand they want to take years to deploy inferior, sum-of-all-compromises systems.
I just don't care. And I'll tell them that with my voice and with my wallet — my hopefully soon-to-be Apple Pay powered wallet.
If you want to tell them as well, support the retailers who support the technologies you want to use, and tell the ones who don't that, if they want your business, they better change their priorities. You can also contact them directly to voice your concerns. Please remember to be polite; the person reading your correspondence is just doing their job.
- @cvs_extra, email form, 1-800-SHOP-CVS (1-800-746-7287), CVS Corporation Customer Relations, One CVS Drive, Woonsocket, RI 02895
- @riteaid, email form, 1-800-RITE AID (1-800-748-3243), Rite Aid Customer Relations, P.O. Box 3165, Harrisburg , PA 17105
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