CVS Launches Its Own Mobile Payment System

CVS Launches Its Own Mobile Payment System

CVS Launches Its Own Mobile Payment System

Apple Pay is creating headway with big selling chains, many of which have made the switch to NFC-equipped payment terminals and either have already or will shortly start supporting Apple’s mobile payment system. But there are still some notable hold-outs: Walmart is one, and this week CVS declared its solution, called CVS Pay.

CVS, which has until now to adopt Apple Pay and other NFC-based payment services, has introduced a mobile payment solution of its own. It's appropriately called CVS Pay, and it displays a barcode on the phone screen that the pharmacy can then scan to ring up our purchases, so long as we link a credit or a debit card to it. We can also present the barcode to pick up prescriptions that we can fill-up and manage in-app, as well as to rack up constancy points. No need to present our physical rewards card at the counter anymore.

Now, customers have to either present their physical CVS rewards card at the register, or they have to say their name and birthday in order for the store associate to look up their account information. Then, after their purchases and prescriptions are run up, they have to pay. (And thanks to the slow-to-process chip cards, this, too, takes time.)

Now, all the verifications for the prescriptions and the payment – including name, birth date, signature, and PIN – will take place in the app.

“What we’re trying to do is provide real utility and solve real problems for customers using digital,” explains Brian Tilzer, CVS Health’s Chief Digital Officer. “With one scan, we’re taking away three or four extra steps that customers have lived with for a long time.”

CVS was a founding member of the Merchant Customer Exchange, which was working on its own mobile payment solution called CurrentC. That app is for all goals and purposes now dead. But before it faltered, CVS was devoted to supporting the retailer-backed app, and the chain immediately cut off support for Apple Pay right after its inauguration in 2014. Now CVS is going it alone with a solution that might really solve a pain point for its customers.

CVS Pay is rolling out now in New Jersey, Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania and will increase to all of its stores later this year.

Particularly, CVS’s solution sounds a lot like Starbucks’ loyalty program, where customers can store funds, pay for purchases and get points at the register.

The difference is that CVS is focused mainly on the requirements of customers who are picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy. That’s why the app lets a user do things like store additional payment cards, including FSA (Flexible Spending Accounts) or HSA (Health Spending Accounts), in order to split their purchases.

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