- CVS Health announced on Wednesday a nationwide rollout of CVS Pay, the mobile payment feature of the CVS Pharmacy mobile app that the retailer began testing in New York City and surrounding areas just two months ago.
- CVS Pay combines in-store payment, prescription pickup and CVS' ExtraCare loyalty program into a single scan at checkout. Customers can add credit or debit card information, along with their Health Savings Account and Flexible Savings Account cards. At checkout, a CVS clerk scans the app's barcode, and the customer can pick a payment method from those stored within the app. All verifications for prescriptions and payment take place directly in the app.
- The CVS Pharmacy app is available for iOS and Android devices. For now, CVS Pay can be used only in CVS Pharmacy standalone stores, not yet in CVS Pharmacy locations in Target stores.
When CVS first announced the pilot program in August, the company made a soft pledge to roll out the payment solution nationwide by the end of the year. Companies routinely blow by such goals as they find during trials that they need to tweak one thing or another, but CVS said customer adoption and feedback during the pilot exceeded expectations, and the feature is now poised for primetime.
A nationwide launch of CVS Pay after only a few months of piloting the feature is a pretty fast move for a retailer that spent a lot of time supporting the CurrentC mobile payments platform, which fizzled out earlier this year after security concerns and other issues. The CurrentC effort was led by Wal-Mart, which has been quick to launch its own branded payment solution, Walmart Pay, on its flagship retail app.
Both moves demonstrate some strategic decisiveness for the retailers, but are payment apps really something that retailers should be getting into, particularly when there are already a glut of mobile payment options, including Apple Pay, Android Pay and many others?
Individual payment solutions offer retailers a way to connect with customers throughout their shopping process. They also provide a platform to integrate loyalty and membership programs, as well as other perks and discounts. If retailers can beef up their own payment apps with enough special features, giving customers plenty of reasons to use them, it might mean the difference between success in the payments space and just another vanity app cluttering up a customer's phone screen.