Walmart's response to displeasure over dropping NFC and Apple Pay payments is laughable

There's been a bit of a tizzy recently after several US retailers dropped support for NFC payments in an effort to thwart Apple Pay, and the nation's largest retailer has chimed in with their own explanation as to why they did so. The retailer is Walmart, and they're the leading force behind the competing CurrentC payment system developed by the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). Our own Nick Arnott did some digging into what the CurrentC app transmits and came away unsettled. To recap, CurrentC cuts out the credit card company, instead linking directly into the checking accounts of users and offering a QR code to scan at participating retailers. Apple Pay, meanwhile, uses a combination of NFC, Touch ID authentication, and a tokenized one-time-use card number generator hooked up to the user's credit card accounts to make payments.

Walmart, unsurprisingly, believes that their solution is the better solution:

There are certainly a lot of compelling technologies being developed, which is great for the mobile-commerce industry as a whole. Ultimately, what matters is that consumers have a payment option that is widely accepted, secure, and developed with their best interests in mind. MCX member merchants already collectively serve a majority of Americans every day. MCX's members believe merchants are in the best position to provide a mobile solution because of their deep insights into their customers' shopping and buying experiences.

What this doesn't address is why NFC and Apple Pay had to be turned off. We can surmise that the reason is that Walmart and other MCX retailers see Apple Pay as a serious threat to CurrentC, and want to ensure that it isn't "widely accepted." What's truly laughable is stating that CurrentC is developer with the best interests of customers in mind. It absolutely is not.

While it's true that credit cards aren't also created with the best interests of customers in mind, when coupled with Apple Pay they are markedly more secure than CurrentC could ever hope to be. Here are just a few ways:

  • Touch ID authentication ensures that only users authorized at the device level can make payments.
  • NFC keeps the transmission distances down to a few inches versus showing a visible QR code.
  • Token-generated single-use card numbers ensure that in the event of a retailer breach, the hackers get a card number that's already worthless instead of your real card number
  • Accessing your credit card gives users additional spending power versus drawing from a cash account, lets users earn points, miles, or whatever perks are on their favorite cards, and adds a layer of intermediation between a security failure and your money.

There are two other points where CurrentC is hugely beneficial to the retailers. Though setting up and running the system is going to be hugely expensive, it'll cost them less than the billions of dollars they pay annually in credit card fees. But, perhaps more importantly to them, it's a huge data collection operation, allowing a conglomeration of retailers to track your purchasing and spending habits and market even more effectively to you than ever before. They can do that now with just your credit card number (and there's a reason they push store loyalty cards so hard), but Apple Pay's tokenized numbers would absolutely destroy any hope of tracking custom spending for those that opt out of such programs.

It's entirely understandable why Walmart wouldn't want Apple Pay to succeed. But at the same time, it's almost funny to see them asserting that they're offering their customers what they want and need instead of just offering them choice. Shutting off NFC payments to wound Apple Pay isn't about customers — it's about data mining and nothing else.

But will retailers like Walmart and CVS deliberately dropping support for Apple Pay change how and where you shop?

Source: Business Insider

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

86 Comments
  • Read this article & whet I got out if it was- "I wish set when my iPhone 6 Plus will ever come!" Sent from the iMore App
  • ...crickets...
  • What? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Just another reason to not shop at Walmart Sent from the iMore App
  • America is weird. Is the NFC hardware not attached to the credit/debit machine that a user enters their PIN into? Posted from my TARDIS!
  • Yes it is in the credit card reader. But the store can choose to install card readers that do not have NFC or the can have the distributor just turn off or disable the NFC chip. It is probably as easy as them going into the settings of the machine and flipping a toggle.
  • Boycotting Walmart.
  • Will not have any impact on where I shop. Obviously, their response is BS, but what did you really expect? Sent from the iMore App
  • Not much else from far-right-wing-nut republiklans.
  • What the heck are you talking about?
  • http://walmart1percent.org/issues/distorting-our-democracy/ excerpt: **************
    From the 2000 election cycle through the 2012 cycle, the Waltons and the Walmart PAC spent nearly $17 million in federal elections. More than $11.6 million went to GOP candidates and committees.
    ***********
  • What's your point? What's different from any other special interest groups?
  • So that means they also sent over 5 million to non-GOP candidates. Everyone plays both sides of the fence. They like to own all of the politicians, not just some of them.
  • Hey, something bad happened. It must be Republicans!
  • Clearly.
  • No shortage of issues on that account--just take your pick: http://walmart1percent.org
  • Yup, just ask the poor and middle class: http://walmart1percent.org/issues/top-reasons-the-walton-family-and-walm...
  • So we are going to get political. Seems this would be more a Democrats stance. Limiting choice. Since Democrats are the ones who pushed through a bill that took away our choice of weather or not we wanted to buy health insurance.
  • Not to mention that WM just dropped Discover and picked up VISA and added a chip to their card. They had restricted their cards to Discover at Sam's, but changed a few years ago since they were losing business to Costco. I would be surprised that eventually WM will be forced to use APay, or Nearfield or something, that is just the way the market is going. No one wants to carry cards anymore due to security issues.
  • So is Apple dropping the CurrentC app from the app store? They should. And Google too. That would pretty much end this battle. That said, I can count on one hand how many times I goto Walmart in a year. It's not that I have anything against their business or anything like that. I just rarely go there. This is just another reason.
  • That is completely true about dropping the app. You figure Android and iOS have about 98% of the smartphone market and it's game over.
  • The problem will not be the actual CurrentC app. Retailers will probably have the CurrentC built into thier own app. Similar to the Best Buy app creating a QR code when you redeem your My Best Buy points. Would be harder or Apple to block each companies app.
  • That family is not to be trusted. I quit spending money at walmart and sams 4 years ago.
  • It's been 13 years for me.
  • Never for me.
  • I doubt they miss your money lol Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I used to spend upwards of 500 a month at walmart and close to 175 a month at Samsclub. Now both are at 0.0. I suspect they've noticed. Time, time, time is on my side. Yes it is! lol.
  • I don't own sweatpants or pajama pants, so I feel out of place shopping at Wal-Mart. All of my shopping is done at Target.
  • Unfortunately target Isn't accepting Apple pay either.
  • I know this... Just stating I don't shop at Wal-Mart.
  • Yeah, but at least their app kindly accepts Apple Pay, instead of just outright denying Apple pay altogether.
  • All these companies behind CurrrentC are just holding us back with being able to use mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Google wallet. Walmart is saying its best to use what's more widely available to everyone. I thought both Android and Apple use NFC. So how is using CurrentC helping? It looks like a more unsecured process and longer. That and I'm guaranteeing that these companies don't like the fact that ApplePay does not share what you purchased with the store. Meaning they can't aim stuff toward what you buy and basically use your info against use. These companies will see when hardly anyone uses CurrentC that they made a mistake. Sent from the iMore App
  • Haha! The way I see it right now, if only you and I used ApplePay that would be more widely accepted right now than a CurrentC app that isn't even operational. This is pure BS and hopefully people will see it for what it really is! Sent from the iMore App
  • IPandorum The Retailer knows what you bought. They just do not know who you are, your name, your credit card number, your e-mail, your physical address and your telephone number.
    When you sign up with CurrentC they will have your Driver's License, your Social security number, your checking account number, your e-mail, your physical address and phone number.
    You decide which of the two is best for you and which of the two is best for the retailers
  • "Ultimately, what matters is that consumers have a payment option that is widely accepted, secure, and developed with their best interests in mind." Well, that's a load of happy horsesh*t. If this were true in the minds of Walfart executives they'd have installed the proper industry standard payment terminals that accepts NFC capable cards and services that adhered to those standards like Google Wallet and Apple Pay years ago. Sent from the iMore App
  • Actually, he's entirely right -- that is exactly what we want. But he's got a hell of a long uphill battle to convince anybody that is what CurrentC will offer, and it is getting worse by the day.
  • KrispyKrink, That is the main point of contention. These companies most of them at least CVS & Rite Aid has the NFC system in their stores. They were accepting Google Wallet for example which uses NFC. They accepted Apple Pay for the first three days from 10/20/14 to 10/23/14 then they turned it off.
    If they really cared about their customers they would continue to allow the use of Apple pay. Now neither Apple Pay or Google Wallet is being accepted.
    As far as i know, CurrentC operates on the IOS (Apple) and Google platform. (CurrentC is available right now on the app store. It is just now functional and will not be until next year). What happens if Google and Apple turns off CurrentC from its respective platform? Then they are left with nothing. Remember what happened when Apple dropped Google Maps from its platform? It took two years of consumer complaints to get it back.
  • I already don't shop at Walmart, CVS and RiteAid. CVS because there isn't one near me, RiteAid because my meds are cheaper at Walgreens, and Walmart because they're evil.
  • Data mining might be huge for them but I think the real answer is cutting out the credit card middle men. Credit card fees are huge for the retailers. I really don't mind them trying to cut them out. Unfortuanely we have a decent workable method in front of us today that they are trying to end for what will probably be a cumbersome effort on their part.
  • The problem is that CC's are what many rely on to extend purchasing power.. It might be OK for small things, but for larger purchases... yeah.. Of course, Walmart would then swoop in with a 27% interest rate credit account that would make current COMPETITIVE credit market look cheep. and thats the real danger.. they would and could turn it into a monopoly with only one player.. which is what they want.
  • You are on the right track for sure. Visa charges anywhere from 1-4% of the total transaction. That is a huge amount of profit down the drain. Walmart is trying to make even more money (Getting even more greedy) and they are wanting to get the CC companies out of the loop. My problem is that I get a couple good advantages by using a Visa/Mastercard etc... The first is if I need to make a large purchase I have the funding available to do so and pay it off over a few months. (I don't believe in long term credit card debt.) The other is that I get a big consumer protection using a credit card and I have had to do that in the past. You ever tried to charge back a direct payment from the bank? Almost impossible.
  • It is ridiculous to assume that ANY of these companies have our best interests in mind--including Apple. After all, if Apple just had our interests in mind, they would lower their profit margin. I'm fine with that. When I resell my iPhone, I try to get as high a price as I can, in as ethical a manner as I can. Is Walmart competing with Apple ethical? Sure. Is Walmart trying to BS us about "caring" about us as it harvests our health info ethical? Not at all. I am fine with these guys fighting it out. I like the Apple solution, and doubt I would ever use CurrentC. But let's not kid ourselves: none of these guys is running a charity. It's just that one of Apple's selling points is protecting our privacy (mostly).
  • "But will retailers like Walmart and CVS deliberately dropping support for Apple Pay change how and where you shop?" It already has. And I don't even own an iPhone 6 yet.
  • It'll be interesting to see if Dollar General adopts NFC. They're forward-thinking enough to accept PayPal, and with their rapid expansion of late, DG is a legitimate threat to WM; it's a lot easier to get in and out. Like others, I avoid Mallmart, but sometimes it seems like the best alternative. Armed with an Pay-enabled iPhone, I think I would be more likely to shop elsewhere.
  • I can actually look into the DG question. I live in the Nashville area where they are based and have friends that work there. I like to go to DG. Like you said, in and out. Not near the selection but when I need just a few items they are more than the convenient answer.
  • Haha, this makes me want to go to Walmart and make several transactions at their self checkout using my AmEx for a pack of gum that costs less than $1.00. I got your credit card fees right here!
  • soooo, can I add a 30% APR Walmart credit card to ApplePay?
    .
    All seriouslyness, WTF?! Turning off NFC is no different than turning off the mag-strip reader. Or blocking the major credit cards in some other manner. I am not particularly surprised, I didn't expect EVERYONE to jump on this bandwagon right away, but this is simply foolish. People won't forget this. They have opened our eyes to how exactly they value us as data not customers.
  • Yes, this will change the way I will shop. I'm so tired with Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid. Today I went to Best Buy to purchase a monitor and they have also disabled NFC. If I find a store that has the product I need and offers NFC, then I will give them my business. I'll even drive a little further to shop there. P.S. I never liked Walmart. Now even less. Sent from the iMore App
  • Simple: Whoever offers applepay will be paid with applepay. Everyone else gets a swipe of the good old VISA.
  • Point is to get away from swiping Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm so tired of hearing about Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid. Today went shopping at Best Buy to purchase a monitor and they have also disabled NFC. This will definitely change the way I shop. If a merchant uses NFC and has the products I need then it will be the place I will shop. Even if I have to drive a little further. Sent from the iMore App
  • Boycotted anyone not supporting apple pay. If okay to not have it yet but not okay to turn it off. Sent from the iMore App
  • I would most Walmart customers are not using iPhone 6s.
  • I don't think anyone in the entire World is using an iPhone6s
  • iPhone 6s (multiple iPhone 6 devices). iPhone 6S (what you tried to be cute about and failed)
  • I am looking forward to boycotting stores that don't use NFC and Apple pay. I have more fun shopping online and I have plenty of patience to wait for the shipping of anything I order. Sent from the iMore App
  • How is shortening the list of options for your consumers in their best interest? It also doesn't take a rocket scientist to know CurrentC is not secure. With all these retailers having data breaches, you'd think they'd be looking for as many options as possible to keep consumers safe from hackers. Especially from a store that gets everything cheap from China's sweat shops. I think this article was spot on. Sent from the iMore App
  • Luckily meijer takes apple pay and i wouldnt step foot in a walmart anyway. Sent from the iMore App
  • I own and Android this makes me PO'ed. Having an account tied to my bank account that is controlled by the merchants, no thankyou. This information needs to get out more to the average customer. Also, the best way to fight these companies who are trying to stop APay is to use APay everywhere you can. The more buying power and transactions through APay that show up will force more companies to use it. I do not want to have a card in my wallet anymore.
    I maybe an Android user but I will be using my wife's Iphone6 everywhere I can that has APay :)
  • Be assimilated or be destroyed. Drone on iZombies
  • I'd say it's almost as laughable as Apple's claim of 100% customer satisfaction for ipads or its claim that only 9 people out of millions reported bent iphones. This is PR. Take it with a grain of salt. We all know Walmart and the group of retailers see an opportunity to gain some control over transactions with this renewed interest in NFC or similar payments. Much as Apple has total control in its itunes and app stores.
  • The best part of this is that it is short lived at best. The U.S. is the last or one of the last countries to implement Smartcard credit cards but it is coming, and guess what it uses? Yes NFC, and they won't have a choice.
  • Seriously, checking account - no thanks!!! This is a setup for failure
  • Remember, they are working on a way so they don't have to pay the big cc fees. Google's method and now in the past few days, Apples method attempts to siphon off some of the fees for themselves. Totally the opposite of the direction the merchants are going.
  • iSheep bleating in vehement protest... nothing else. This is still America... a merchant has the right to take payment as they see fit... not as Apple sees fit... If you don't like it, simply don't shop there. That is the American way.
  • Your right, and I think that is what people are saying, they won't shop at CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walmart. And if Google and Apple want to not allow the CurrentC app in their app stores, they should do so, as they see fit. CurrentC will be dead if the App is not allowed (or made useless) on Android and Apple phones.
  • This really irritates me that a major retailer such as Walmart would block Apple Pay. I am still waiting on my iPhone 6 Plus (like many others) and one of the main features I was looking forward to was Apple Pay. Both my debt card (at Home Depot) and my Capital One cards were recently stolen (hacked) and I was thinking to myself it would be nice to just use my new big iPhone 6 Plus to pay for everything and now merchants are boycotting it?? SMH... This clearly tells me they could care less about identify theft and embracing technology. I'm hoping customer pressure of wanting this in their stores will change their minds, who knows.
  • I think its funny that Walmart is saying that it wants to use CurrentC because it saves them money from credit card companies. Hence that is the reason why it shut off NFC service to Apple Pay and Google Wallet, yet they say you can still used your regular plastic credit card in its store to purchase things. Walmart is LAUGHABLE.
  • The idea of not shopping at CVS, Walmart, Rite-Aid, or any other stores because they do not support one companies, Apples' proprietary method, mobile payment is ridiculous. I will continue to shop where I want to and pay using cash or my card if necessary. For this to truly work, there has to be a universal mobile payment method. Google, Apple, CurrencyC all have one problem in common. They are not universal, yet.
  • What i find amazing is no outlets are even talking about what you need to sign up for CurrentC. First it links to your bank account. Then they require your Social Security Number and your drivers license. There isn't a chance I will give them any of that information. This CurrentC is so much less secure than ApplePay or Google Wallet it is laughable. Not to mention the barrage of targeted ads that you are going to get from every retailer that is a part of the system.
  • Just received this in my inbox... A Message To Our Customers Thank you for your interest in CurrentC. You are receiving this message because you are either a participant in our pilot program or requested information about CurrentC. Within the last 36 hours, we learned that unauthorized third parties obtained the e-mail addresses of some of you. Based on investigations conducted by MCX security personnel, only these e-mail addresses were involved and no other information. In an abundance of caution, we wanted to make you aware of this incident and urge you not to open links or attachments from unknown third parties. Also know that neither CurrentC nor Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) will ever send you emails asking for your financial account, social security number or other personally identifiable information. So if you are ever asked for this information in an email, you can be confident it is not from us and you should not respond. MCX is continuing to investigate this situation and will provide updates as necessary. We take the security of your information extremely seriously, apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your support of CurrentC.
  • This is only about collecting information. BECAUSE of credit cards the US consumer has 880.5 billion in credit card debt. That means the US citizen has spent 880.5 billion dollars they do not have. If Walmart (and other companies) want to deny themselves of potential income they are going to shoot themselves in their own feet. Guess what most americans don't have a lot of? Savings. Why link MCX to your account when there might be nothing in it especially for bigger purchases. Trust me people want to use their credit cards.
  • I'm actually stunned that Wally-world has technology that advanced. The last time I was there, my cashier was using an abacus. No big loss to Apple pay.
  • Boycott CVS & Rite Aid
    http://youtu.be/9ZHusVNa1_A
    Apple pay is the quickest, fastest, most secure and easiest form of paying for an item in a store I have seen. I do not agree with these stores that are now disabling their NFC systems to not accept Apple Pay. I think they are cutting off their respective nose's to spite their face.
    (1) Apple pay would drastically reduce time spent in line. Because every time I have used Apple pay so far in the 6 days since it's initiation it only took 2 seconds max to get an approval and a receipt on apple pay.
    (2) It is not good business sense to piss off your customers.
    (3) Since the majority of I-Phone 6 and 6+ owners usually have a higher buying power. These merchants will be left with only the people patronizing their stores that buy $10.00 items.(4) It however, seems that they are mostly after the poor with the adaptation of the MCX or CurrentC system they want to utilize. Since this will give them direct access to peoples bank accounts. I'll be damned if I will give them access to my account.
    (5) It would not be so bad if their current system did not allow for the use of Apple Pay. However it does because it is the NFC system. Both CVS and Rite Aid's system accepted payments by way of Apple pay for the first three days of this week. Now to willfully disconnect the machines from the NFC system to me is malicious. This shows little disregard for their clients and prospective clients. (Their machines now say " We do not accept Apple Pay") That had to be programmed into the machines.
    The ironic thing is that CurrentC operates on Apple & Google platform. What happens if Apple and Google pull the plug? Remember what happened when Apple pulled the plug on Google Maps. It took two years of consumer complaints to get it back
    I am suggesting a boycott of these two stores. Since I know for certain they accepted apple pay and then and now refusing. It is a simple and easy boycott see link
    http://youtu.be/9ZHusVNa1_A
  • Your 100% Correct...
    ..........I will no longer be shopping at....Walmart, Rite Aid and CVS
    they will now lose about 5 million customers
    by blocking a safer way to shop with Apple Pay. ......do you really think that Apple will approve the CurrentC App in their App Store....
    to by pass their own system............I don't think so...
    Walmart and CVS and Rite Aid.......can't win
    There CEO's...sure are some Dumb ones
    They can now explain there stupidity to their stock holders...when there stock starts dropping.
    The consumer will always win...LOL
  • not buying an iPhone ever, so unless its a cross platform system IT will fail....
  • Doesn't bother me since I already don't shop at Walmart because I live in Southern California. If you're from here and your a normal decent person you will understand what I mean.
  • This is a shrewd move by Walmart. Most people who own a 6 series I-phone would not be caught dead in a Walmart pigsty, so they will lose very little business as a result of this consumer unfriendly policy. The uneducated who can not usually afford the latest I-phone will flock to Walmart, where everyone in the checkout line lives in the past. They will rationalize their third world status by blindly accepting the low price leader lie.
  • I think its silly to boycott companies that are just trying to cut costs. If Apple was really the good guy here, it would have not gone to bed with credit card companies, instead it would do something like CurrentC, creating a solution that would be good to customers and retailers.
  • First off only a fool would believe Apple has your best interests at heart , it's all about them further locking you into their Ecosystem getting a share of the money pie , frankly in my opinion no better than the Retailers or the Credit Card Companies. It's all about Money never lose sight of that fact. As consumers we deserve a choice in our payment methods and I am perfectly fine using Cash or my Credit Card , yes you may be saying Credit Cards Security breaches , my line of thought is this ; if my Card is going to be breached in Theory it's that Card , If by some chance Apples system is hacked and I stress by some chance they have access to all your accounts. A working theory to be sure but it's only a matter of time before some Joker in their Mom's basement figures a way to hack it.
  • I will no longer be shopping at....Walmart, Rite Aid and CVS
    they will now lose about 5 million customers
    by blocking a safer way to shop with Apple Pay.
    do you really think that Apple will approve the CurrentC App in their App Store....to bypass their system....I don't think so...
    Walmart and CVS and Rite Aid....can't win
    They sure have some stupid CEO's...
    The consumer will always win...LOL
  • Ok I understand both Apple pay and CurrentC. on how they work. The only thing I don't understand is all those people (iFans) getting all upset about some retailers not letting them play with their new iToy form of payment. Then trying to boycott all this places that don't support Applepay. I just want to know how were they paying before Apple told them how to pay? One thing I can say is that credit cards are not going anywhere anytime. Specially here in the USA, Credit cards are a necessary evil because they help us establish credit and that's what we need if we want to buy a car or a home and Don't give me that crap that you can pay cash because most of us don't have the money to buy a home without getting a mortgage. I doubt that Apple will be helping with establishing credit. Oh also car insurance companies look at your credit score to give you a quote not your driving record. just my two cents.
  • Not sure if trolling, or serious. The major upside to ApplePay is the merchant doesn't get your CC#. They get a one-time use number, so if they're breached, I don't have to worry about my CC number getting leaked. You know it isn't supposed to replace credit cards, right? It uses a credit card in a way that's way more secure. More so given CurrentC has already been hacked. Merchants also can't track what I'm buying. They know it was paid for, just not that I bought milk 3 days after buying Oreos. Basically, they can't send this type of nonsense: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-ou... ApplePay and GoogleWallet allow you to still build credit, but I'm curious how you thought ApplePay worked without credit cards at all. As in, without building your credit. As an aside, I think a lot of people are building credit without credit cards. My cellphone bill count towards my credit, as does my internet and power bill.
  • You have no Clue to what your talking about. FYI: Apple Pay uses your very own existing VISA/AMEX and many others you carry in your wallet. You get the same credit and rewards that you would get if you opened your wallet and swiped your card. The only difference is it is more secure and apparently so secure that the retailers cant mine your personal data that they so desperately want. Retailers don't want your data so secure that they cant exploit you themselves. I think they should be forced to carry it just because of their ill intent
  • I don't think I've been to a Walmart this year... That aside, the thing they forgot to mention is how ApplePay doesn't allow the merchant to track you. As in they don't know what I bought, just that someone did.
  • Bites that Starbucks is going the way of Wal-of-*rap.
    But I use PayPal for Starbucks anyway.
    And no way am I giving Wal-of-*rap access to my checking account, or anyone who takes a pic of a CurrentC**ap QR code and can hack it as easily as the imore guy did.