If’s Official, CVS No Longer An Apple Pay Holdout

Apple Pay terminal.
Bryan Thomas / Getty Images

As of today, Engadget reports that CVS officially accepts Apple Pay as a form of payment. The surprising thing is that it took so long.

Via StreetInsider, Auriemma Consulting Group declared Apple Pay makes up 77% of mobile payments among debit card users.

“An Auriemma study of debit card issuers shows that Apple Pay makes up 77% of mobile wallet transactions. Samsung Pay and Google Pay, Apple Pay’s main competitors, make up 17% and 6% of transactions, respectively… One clear reason for Apple Pay’s dominance: more users. Of the “big three” payment apps, Apple Pay was the first to market when it launched in 2014 and has seen higher adoption, particularly among debit card users.”

These are not new facts for CVS, one of the nation’s biggest pharmacies. CVS made a bet with a different technology provider that didn’t pan out. That provider is none other than MCX, the makers of CurrentC.

Betting against Apple may seem like a bad idea today, but at the time, CurrentC was being pushed by another retail behemoth — Walmart. Target was also an early member, along with a number of fast food and retail chains.

MCX was a powerful group that offered many attractive benefits to retailers tired of paying credit card fees while getting locked out of valuable customer data.

Checkout line
  Allison Joyce / Getty Images

One of the problems was that MCX demanded exclusivity. They were not willing to compete with Apple Pay on the same terminals — despite the fact that terminals capable of handling one vendor could also handle the other. Perhaps the bigger problem was that MCX required its members to sign on for two years, and there were penalties for opting out of the contract early.

CVS raised the ire of Apple Pay enthusiasts early on because they actually took Apple Pay for the first few days. Early adopters were unsure if all NFC terminals could accept Apple Pay. CVS was one of the first non-launch partners that definitively answered that question in the affirmative.

Only days into their adoption of NFC terminals, CVS taught consumers another lesson about Apple Pay. It could be turned off by any retailer who didn’t want to accept it — and that is exactly what happened. CVS locked out Apple Pay, and angered many customers to the point of them switching to sector rival, Walgreens. Walgreens had been an Apple Pay partner from the beginning.

While Walmart and Target are still holdouts, CurrentC has lost many of its retail partners. Apple announced earlier this year that 7-Eleven will soon be joining CVS in accepting Apple Pay.