By John Stewart
JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Monday officially launched its Chase Pay mobile app, announcing users can now download the wallet and use it to pay at more than 7,500 Starbucks Corp. outlets and at almost 1,400 Best Buy Co. Inc. stores to start with.
The app, which is available on the iTunes App Store and on Google Play, uses quick-response (QR) codes for in-store transactions. It can also be used for in-app and online payments. The app houses any Chase credit or debit card held by the user, and also allows users to check account balances and available credit and look at all transactions going back 90 days. Users can also use the wallet to reload a Starbucks card in the Starbucks iPhone app. Chase says this will also be possible “soon” for Android versions.
While Chase has recently cut deals with major petroleum merchants and general-merchandising retailers for Chase Pay acceptance, the banking giant said Monday point-of-sale acceptance is limited for now to Best Buy and Starbucks. Acceptance at locations for Phillips 66, Conoco, 76, Walmart, ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, and participating Shell stations, is coming “in the near future,” according to a Chase news release.
In November, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced it will accept Chase Pay beginning in 2017, a move that followed a September announcement the giant retailer will use the bank’s ChaseNet processing network.
In working out acceptance deals for Chase Pay, the bank has been able to rely on connections made over the past few years by Merchant Customer Exchange LLC, a retailer consortium that ended a pilot earlier this year for its own wallet, which it called CurrentC, without announcing any further plans for the product. Both Wal-Mart and Phillips 66, for example, are MCX members. MCX announced its alliance last year with Chase.
Chase Pay, plans for which Chase first unveiled 13 months ago, joins a crowded market for mobile-payments apps. Not only have major technology players like Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., and Samsung Electronics Co. launched mobile wallets, but major banks and retail companies have been joining the market, as well. For example Wal-Mart introduced Walmart Pay nationwide this summer, and CVS Health Corp., a major pharmacy chain and also an MCX member, announced its own entry, CVS Pay, in August. Banking rival Citigroup Inc. earlier this month announced it will launch its Citi Pay wallet this year in Singapore, Australia, and Mexico and in the U.S. early next year.
In light of that level of competition, the sooner Chase Pay brings on more merchants for in-store acceptance, the better, says independent payments analyst Aaron McPherson. “They only have two merchants, that’s not what you want to see when you’re launching a wallet,” he tells Digital Transactions News. He notes he already has mobile-payments apps that work at Starbucks (the company’s proprietary app) and Best Buy (Apple Pay).
A Chase spokesman, however, says Chase is “taking the time to ensure Chase Pay acceptance runs smoothly.” Later, the app will add new features like order-ahead capability and loyalty features “that will give customers reasons beyond just payment to use Chase Pay.”
The new app also offers substantial benefits to both merchants and consumers that separate it from other wallets, including reduced acceptance cost through ChaseNet, the spokesman says. “Chase Pay is special because it’s the first digital-payments solution that benefits both consumers and merchants,” said Jennifer Roberts, president of strategic alliances and loyalty solutions for Chase, in a statement. “By focusing on merchant needs first—lower cost, zero fraud liability—we’ve got a real opportunity to break through the mobile-payments noise.”