Longtime Apple Pay holdout CVS will finally be adding support for Apple’s mobile payments platform this fall, along with 7-Eleven, Apple CEO Tim Cook said this afternoon on the company’s earnings call. The news is particularly notable because CVS was one of the first major retailers to snub Apple Pay, choosing instead to launch its own barcode-based mobile payments solution “CVS Pay” back in 2016, following the failure of the retailer-backed Apple Pay rival CurrentC.
CVS Pay had become the first mobile payments solution the pharmacy chain adopted, after having purposefully avoided support for Apple Pay or any other rival NFC (tap to pay) technologies at its register. The company believed there was value in offering its own end-to-end solution to customers that combined both payments and loyalty, it had said.
In addition, CVS had earlier backed an Apple Pay alternative called CurrentC, which was developed by the merchant consortium MCX led by major retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Rite Aid and others. The QR code-based payments solution was designed to challenge Apple’s potential dominance in mobile payments. Many of the retailers even blocked Apple Pay at their stores in advance of bringing CurrentC to market.
However, CurrentC eventually failed and the technology was sold off to JPMorgan Chase in 2017. Some of its backers – like Best Buy and Rite Aid – had also relented, by allowing Apple Pay into their stores. But CVS did not. It instead moved forward with its own solution.
That it has now decided to also support Apple Pay is a major win for Apple, as is the addition of 7-Eleven to the list of retailers that will soon offer Apple Pay at checkout.
The retail expansions weren’t the only big Apple Pay news announced on the call.
Cook also said that Apple Pay would launch in Germany – but didn’t offer a timeframe for this launch. And he noted that Apple Pay saw more than 1 billion transactions in the 3rd quarter of 2018. That’s triple the number from a year ago, and more mobile transactions than Square and PayPal, he noted.