Cook brands Apple Pay rejection a 'skirmish' in mobile payment realm

Following the withdrawal of NFC support by US pharmacy chains, Apple CEO Tim Cook has brushed off such rejection as little more than a 'skirmish.'

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Credit: CBS Interactive

Apple CEO Tim Cook has fired back against companies that have withdrawn support for Apple Pay, branding the change no more than a "skirmish" in the contactless payment realm.

As ZDNet reported Monday , two major US pharmacy chains — CVS and Rite Aid — disabled their near-field communication technology (NFC) terminals over the weekend. NFC technology is the backbone for contactless payment services such as Google Wallet and Apple Pay, and so customers of these companies now cannot use the new Apple service to purchase goods.

However, before the weekend, Apple Pay was operational in store.

A Rite Aid spokesperson said the company "does not currently accept Apple Pay," and the pharmacy chain is currently "in the process of evaluating our mobile payment options."

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Rite Aid and CVS are not included in the list of over 500 companies signed up as Apple Pay partners. While this list includes firms such as Capital One, Visa, Chase and Square, Rite Aid and CVS are instead part of the Merchants Customer Exchange (MCX), a consortium of US companies — including Walmart and Best Buy — that is developing its own branded mobile payment system. The service, called CurrentC, will link merchants and consumers through deals, discounts and loyalty rewards — but will not be available until next year to the public.

After Rite Aid and CVS's decision came to light, Cook said at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live conference that the withdrawal of support was nothing more than a "skirmish."

"Merchants have different objectives sometimes," Cook said. "But in the long arc of time, you only are relevant as a retailer or merchant if your customers love you."

According to the Apple executive, over one million credit cards were activated within 72 hours of the mobile payment service's debut last week.

Read on: Apple

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