When Apple announced earlier this year that support for Apple Pay was on its way to CVS, eyebrows were raised. With CVS stubbornly refusing to accept Apple Pay despite all of its payment terminals supporting NFC, it was suspected that the feature would just never be available at the company’s stores. However, Apple today sent an email out confirming that yes, indeed, Apple Pay is now accepted at CVS.
Apple Pay in the United States has always been a somewhat fractured affair thanks to the slow rollout of terminals that would support it, whereas in many other countries the hardware was already in place thanks to Chip and PIN cards as well as existing tap-to-pay terminals. However, more work was needed in the States, with Matt Birchler looking into the potential reasons as to why some stores remained holdouts after all these years.
This story starts back in 2013 when Target unveiled Cartwheel, a couponing app that had exclusive deals that cycled in and out on a regular basis. After a string of misses in the ecommerce space, Cartwheel was finally something that clicked with customers. At the time I remember seeing tons of people in checkout lines scanning things in their carts for more deals and employees chatting about cool deals they were seeing. A year after launch, Cartwheel made up 76% of all time mobile users spent on Target properties. Put another way, people spent 3x as much time finding deals and sorta-shopping in Cartwheel as they did in the actual Target app and website.
The suspicion has long been that the reason some retailers avoided Apple Pay was that it put a layer between them and their customers. This meant that they were unable to tie transactions to marketing, something companies do enjoy doing.
Regardless, now that CVS is online, the question has to be whether the remaining holdouts will also get in line. Over to you, Walmart and co.