CVS Pharmacy launches mobile wallet

CVS Pharmacy launched an “end-to-end” mobile wallet offering combining payments, prescription pick-up features and a loyalty program.

CVS Pay is packaged in the company’s mobile app and uses barcodes that are scanned at the point of purchase to consummate transactions. Users add debit or credit cards to their accounts then choose which card to pay with at the retail counter.

Like Starbucks’ mobile wallet system, CVS’s app can be used to link payments with the chain’s loyalty program, enabling users to earn rewards and make payments in a single transaction. And because prescription and payment verifications such as name, birthdate, signature and PIN take place within the app, CVS is touting its new offering as a simple way to pick up and pay for a prescription.

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"Over the past year, our digital team has brought to market numerous new digital tools – like CVS Pay – that make shopping at CVS Pharmacy easier and more convenient," said Brian Tilzer, senior vice president and chief digital officer of CVS Health, in a press release. "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' health care experience even easier."

CVS Pay launched in markets including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, and a nationwide deployment is slated for later this year. The offering works with all major credit and debit cards as well as Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Account cards.

CVS made headlines two years ago when it pulled the plug on Apple Pay, and the drugstore chain continues to snub aggregated mobile payments systems as it launches its own offering. While the market for mobile payments is extremely challenging in the U.S. for any player not named Starbucks, CVS has some obvious advantages over some other players: Enabling customers to verify themselves and receive rewards while they pay clearly gives users a reason to use their phones rather than credit cards or cash. And it has a huge retail presence, operating nearly 10,000 stores and ranking as the seventh-largest company in the world.

Starbucks is clearly the leading U.S. retailer when it comes to mobile payments, and it isn’t at all clear just how many singular payments apps consumers will use to complete transactions in the store. But like Walmart, CVS has a chance to take an early lead in a segment that has under-performed for years.

For more:
- see this CVS Pharmacy press release

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