Lawyers are investigating the American pharmacies CVS and Rite Aid for breaching competition rules after they were accused of colluding with other CurrentC backers to block out Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
The law firm Schuber, Jonckheer & Kolbe, which is leading the probe, said: “CVS and Rite Aid have long allowed contactless payments at their retail stores, but less than one week after Apple deployed Apple Pay, the large retail pharmacy chains disabled those system to prohibit the payment method.”
“In light of this situation, Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe is investigating whether CVS and Rite Aid violated the antitrust laws by banding together with other MCX members in a decision to boycott other payments systems, including Apple Pay,” it added.
The firm claims that CVS, Rite Aid and other members of MCX, a merchant-driven consortium with over 70 members, had agreed to take part in Apple Pay’s launch but then secretly co-ordinated a simultaneous shut down of all NFC technology.
MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson reportedly claimed that the ban would last “months, not years,” – just enough time to prevent it from becoming established before the launch of its own wallet, CurrentC.
However, if Schuber, Jonckheer & Kolbe concludes that CVS and Rite Aid are acting in breach of federal antitrust laws, the firm will push ahead with a lawsuit.
“CurrentC has serious drawbacks for consumers,” said the firm. “Most importantly, the system doesn’t allow credit cards.”
It also pointed out that the CurrentC system, which is yet to launch, has already suffered security breaches.
“Consumers with phones that support Apple Pay may be able to participate in a class action to restore the service at CVS and Rite Aid retail stores,” added the firm.
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