I’m starting off this post with a disclaimer. I love Apple mobile products. I have an iPhone 4S and an iPad mini that life just wouldn’t be the same without. I don’t yet have an iPhone 6 plus because my husband won’t be allowed to order one for me until the backorders are filled due to limits placed on employee purchases (and no, he doesn’t work for Apple). But as soon as I can get one, I will have one.
Having been a victim of data theft from the Target breech last year and the Home Depot breech this year, I am pretty excited about using Apple Pay because the merchants themselves will never have my card number or PIN. Apple Pay creates a token that is read by my financial institution, and the financial institution completes the transaction. The merchant gets paid and I get to keep my financial information PRIVATE.
Being as excited as I am to start using Apple Pay, I was astounded to read that Rite Aid and CVS, two national pharmacy chains disabled the NCF technology on their cashier terminals on Friday in order to disable Apple Pay. The article on Bloomberg and many others I’ve read say that both retailers have been working with the Merchants Customer Exchange on an alternative payment system that is likely to be competitor to Apple Pay.
That really didn’t sound so bad. Competition is good right? But under closer scrutiny, I found that the competitor, the system called CurrentC is anything but secure or private. In order to use it, a customer has to sign up for an account on the system and link it to a bank account so that payments can use the clearinghouse for checks, bypassing card processing fees. In addition to that, the customer must provide his or her social security and driver license numbers that are stored together with the bank account number on the systems servers. Now, given all of the hacking going on, I wonder what could possibly go wrong with that. Do they have to make the identity theft problem worse before it gets better?
There are a few points about this CurrentC system that, at least to me, are suspect and they are:
It bypasses the card fees at the expense of customers’ security.
It diversifies liability for breeches and theft by being operated by the consortium instead of individual retailers.
It allows a richer data mining experience for the merchants as it tracks purchases, customer locations, and spending habits.
All of these points leave the impression that these merchants believe customers are not people with concerns of their own but walking piggy banks that exist just for them to take advantage.
And so, after taking all of this in, I’ve decided upon two points of action. The first one is that each of the merchants on the membership list of the MCX consortium who are blocking Apple Pay and Google Wallet will no longer get my business unless it is absolutely necessary. The second point of action is that when it is absolutely necessary to conduct business with any of them, I will choose a method of payment that requires them to manually process it: paper check or cash. They seem to be taking the lesser expense of card fees as opposed to manually processing payments highly for granted; and I wish to remind them of it, not letting them ditch the armored cars and key-punches quite yet. If they don’t seem to care about me, why should I care about them?
PS: Some of the merchants on the list are:
Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Rite Aid, CVS, Exxon, Sonoco, Wendy’s, Old Navy, Bad Bath and Beyond
Follow the link above for a full list.