Should we boycott retailers who turn off NFC and Apple Pay?
So here is a thought, how about we customers band together and boycott those retailers who have or threaten to turn off NFC and disable Apple Pay, like CVS and Rite Aid did this past weekend? Not necessarily because we want to use Apple Pay, but to send a message: “The choice of Apple Pay (available now), CurrentC (available in 2015), any other alternative payment method like Google Wallet or even the use of plain ol’ credit cards should remain 100% within our, the customer’s purview.” Essentially, we wish not to be pawns in the silly game of retailers playing “my dog is better than your dog,” when, in fact, it is OUR dog that reigns supreme!
Oh, I get it. Apple Pay codifies and further entrenches the status quo of the big three credit card companies (MasterCard, Visa and American Express) and their minions of smaller cc and related companies, to continue collecting between 2% — 3% fees on all transactions executed by consumers, while CurrentC removes this ‘irritant’ to the retailer’s bottom line. Moreover, where Apple Pay promises to anonymize your retailing history and protect your privacy, an anethema to retailer’s dream of capturing your purchase history so they can continue to upsell you with even more stuff, CurrentC gleefully supports this practice. Again, it matters not a whit, which side of the fence we are on, as consumers of retail goods and services, what matters is, like we do now, we should retain a choice of the means by which we purchase stuff; check, credit card, cash and, going forward, smartphones.
Think about it, consumers now have the option of using cash (which is private) or using checks or credit cards (which can serve as a means for collecting purchaser data). In much the same way, in the burgeoning new world of smartphone payments, why can’t we retain this duality, having the choice to pay, either with Apple Pay (where my data stays private) or CurrentC (my data is collected)?
What I find most alarming is the signatories to the MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange), which consists of major retail companies like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and the above named drug companies, require that all of their stores use only CurrentC for smartphone payments. They are proscribed (legally prohibited) from offering any similar services from competing vendors, like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. This smells to me like a monopoly (or perhaps like an oligarchy or cartel). Well maybe not technically. But whatever we opt to call or define this group and their effort to band together to use their collective merchant clout to foist CurrentC for smartphone payments upon us as consumers, smacks me of a piss poor way to engender our loyalty and interest. Is this appropriate — their attempt to dictate the future of consumer payments?
For me the answer is no. If the merchants have an issue with the 2% — 3% payment to the credit card companies, I venture to suggest that a better use of their collective clout would be to negotiate lower fees with the big three. I mean, c’mon, we all know those pesky credit card fees are passed along to us consumers anyway — look at the common practice of gas stations charging 10 cents per gallon more for pulling out your credit card instead of a debit card or cash, as evidence.
And while I currently spend in excess of $20,000 — $30,000 of my disposable income annually with the MCX merchants, starting Nov 1, 2014, I will be boycotting those companies who reject Apple Pay and Google Wallet, et. al as a means for payment.
Even though I don’t use any smartphone payment services today, I find it necessary and appropriate to take this action, to note my extreme displeasure with any attempt to dictate my future choice of which smartphone payment platform I wish to use!! If enough consumers come together in this ad hoc effort, I can see the possibility of this quickly adding up to millions of dollars being diverted away from the MCX crowd. Maybe if the boycott gets big enough, MCX merchants will come to realize the folly of this effort to dictate our payment independence.
I encourage everyone to join me in this effort to keep the power of payment choice and data privacy in our own hands. Let’s show them whose dog really has the bigger bite!