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CVS Pay joins mobile payment roster

The recent implosion of the automated clearing house-based CurrentC app produced a series of aftershocks in the app market; former members of Merchant Customer Exchange, which were backing CurrentC, went their separate ways, introducing various mobile commerce schemes designed to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.

CVS Pay, the latest entrant, launched Aug. 9, 2016, by Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health, is in Version 2.7.6 of the official CVS Pharmacy App and is available in the Google Play and Apple App stores. Early pilots took place in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

How it works

CVS Pay assigns unique barcodes for users to present to CVS store associates. “The associate will scan the barcode, ring up the purchases, let the customer choose a payment method from those stored in the app and then process the payment,” company representatives stated. “All verifications for prescriptions and payment like name/birthdate, signature, and PIN take place directly in the app, so transactions are hassle free.”

Brian Tilzer, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer at CVS described the mobile app as part of the company’s broader effort to use digital tools to improve the customer experience. “We’ve been excited by the level of customer adoption of these digital solutions, and we will continue our quick pace of innovation and deployment to make our customers’ healthcare experience even easier,” he said.

CVS Pay, available on iOS and Android devices, supports Mastercard, Discover Financial Services, Visa Inc. and American Express Co. payment card brands; types of cards accepted include credit and debit, health savings account, and flexible spending account cards, CVS noted. The app has received mixed reviews from early adopters, who have sung its praises and identified areas in need of improvement.

Apple user reviews

“CVS has made no real attempt to use current mobile technology,” wrote Apple App Store reviewer bindigok. “I do NOT want CVS to store my [financial] information that’s the appeal of Apple Pay; I don’t have to give my financial information to every retailer and open myself up to data attacks (see Target 2 years ago).”

Reviewer KendraButt gave the app a five-star rating and hashtags #winning and #canimarrythisapp. “I love the new pick up prescriptions feature!” she wrote. “Makes it so much easier and faster for large families. I don’t have to sit there and think when everybody’s birthdays are. LOL.”

“This app promises a great convenience: the ability to manage prescriptions online, and to conveniently deal … enter prescription info by scanning barcodes with your smartphone camera,” noted reviewer Dutes Kutman, who had to re-enter his personal information several times and discovered bugs in the way the app processed refill orders and shared information with pharmacists. “It would be a great convenience if it worked,” he stated.

Android user reviews

Android app reviewer Jeri England gave CVS Pay five stars for ease of use. “Takes a little time to set everything up, but once that is done you will smile all the way to the pharmacy because of the time you saved,” she wrote. “This app puts everything @ your fingertips 24/7.”

Reviewer dougandsuzy gave the app one star, citing bugs in the software that interfered with rewards earnings and prescription pick-up. “Claimed ‘prescription was linked to another account.’ I don’t have another CVS account,” the reviewer wrote. “I was supposed to receive extra reward dollars for installing app, but that never happened.”

Five-star reviewer Denise Gardner-Gomes praised the app’s enhanced efficiencies. “My prescriptions are always done before promised,” she wrote. “Whenever there is any question, I get a call from the pharmacist to discuss, so I don’t leave home unprepared for the day.”

End-to-end, mobile payment solution

CVS is positioning CVS Pay as a “new, end-to-end mobile payment solution that integrates payment, prescription pickup and the ExtraCare loyalty program all in one quick scan at checkout.” The solution’s digital barcode technology eliminates the need for enrolled consumers to present ExtraCare key fobs and mag stripe cards at checkout to qualify for in-store promotions and discounts.

CVS anticipates that when CVS Pay is fully deployed, it will provide a simple, private, end-to-end pharmacy experience that facilitates rewards and processes payments in one simple scan. Customers can present barcodes at checkout or recite pick-up numbers at drive-up pharmacy windows. To enhance security and comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, sensitive personal data such as names, birthdays, signatures and PINs are stored in the app and out of scope of the POS, the company stated.