Gotta love the Internet when it get’s its collective undies in a twist at a business. This was basically my entire Twitter feed for the last 48 hours:
For those that missed the story, drug store chains CVS and Rite Aid initially allowed Apple Pay to be used for mobile payment after the feature was rolled out as part of a software update from Cupertino a week ago. Then, inexplicably, the ability to communicate with registers through NFC was disabled by both retailers without telling customers or even their own employees.
It was a topic of conversation with some of my co-workers, who weren’t above the indignation either. Nor do I blame them. It’s one thing for a company like Best Buy or Walmart that came out from the start against Apple Pay, but it’s another to yank the tablecloth out from underneath while you are having dessert. Of course, neither is saying a word.
Poor Android users, they got dragged into this just because Apple had to be fancy. I bet they would still be able to pay with NFC if their mobile brethren had stayed away a little longer.
Many are asking why someone would dare draw the ire of Apple fans. They are early adopters, vote with their wallets, and have no problem being vocal about likes and dislikes. The problem some users don’t understand, though, is that the Walmarts of the world aren’t afraid of a little customer blowback. They care more about offerings like CurrentC for a few reasons:
It’s the data, first and foremost.
Doesn’t matter if people are willing to walk over Apple Pay, because there will be more users that forget they were angry after a while. They will get used to paying with their phone and realize it’s not the end of the world. All the while, they will have complete control over customer data.
When you pay with your credit card at retailers, they have they know who you are and where you live. They can track it with previous orders and know your whole history. They can send you coupons to entice you for more business. In their altruistic brains, they even desire to help you spend your hard-earned money smarter if they have all this information. Think Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
They care so much about that customer information that they are willing to spite Apple, which you better be brave right now to do so. If Cupertino wins, you will be come just a random token that incapable of tracking and marketing to. In the information age of big data, that’s something big box companies aren’t willing to forgo.
The fees are different enough that it does come down to mere pennies per transaction.
Many of our customers use a credit card processor to handle payments for them. The bonus companies like this offer is a lower processing fee. Instead of 3 percent of a transaction, it could be 2.8 (or more). When you generate billions of dollars in revenue every year, that percentage point matters.
Stripe pulled off a huge coup by getting the contract for Apple Pay. It was a huge validation of their business model, and the fact that they decided to try mobile payment before anyone else. I’ve recommended them to more than a few clients. Problem is, many weren’t familiar with them before the iPhone 6. They don’t have legacy history of working with big retailers. Wouldn’t surprise me, either, if they don’t have quite the discounts as others.
When you add up randomized users making you pay more per transaction, I can see their point.
CVS and Rite Aid don’t care about your user experience.
Have you see the diagram explaining the process of getting your CurrentC account ready for payment?
Who wants to do all of that? I sure as heck don’t, but as a user and someone who cares about my users’ experience I care about how easy something is to use. Unfortunately, the same iPhone 6 that brought me Apple Pay reinforces a counter point: my habits aren’t that hard to change as I realize if I’m presented with something I want to use.
My new phone is, unfortunately, too large for me sometimes. I miss being able to navigate the entire screen of my phone single-handed. Apple added a “reachability” feature where I can double-tap (the light tap, not the heavy press) the home button and it brings the top down for easier use. Problem is, that’s a pain for me and have used it maybe five times since I bought the phone.
Point is, if I really want to shop somewhere enough (and care enough about leaving my wallet in the car), it’s not unreasonable to assume others might change their habits too.
I know for a fact that many food restaurants that have invested in mobile already are moving forward with Apple Pay API integration. Starbucks is doing just fine asking customers to download an app and still collect data while providing convenience. They also have one of the greatest loyalty programs in the market, and is the only reason I use the app. As I sit here and type this post, I’m having a tall drip coffee with free refills instead of paying more for a larger cup.
Forget any other reasons you see spoken of, that’s why Apple Pay is such big deal for retailers.
The vitriol about Apple Pay’s use in CVS, Rite Aide and all the other Merchant Customer Exchange retailers will eventually die down. Mobile apps will still have great value for customers to connect with their favorite brands and have a little convenience. The API for Apple Pay will get a ton of use, and many will call it a day. The only thing that will change that is Apple finding another value proposition that gives their product a leg up.
Or, they just count on all of you to vote with your wallets until those data and money hungry retailers change their tune. Maybe that’s what they wanted after all, with a little help from their Android brethren.