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Apple Pay momentum builds as holdout Rite Aid jumps in

Rite Aid has switched course on mobile payments and will now accept a variety of options, including Apple Pay, after previously holding out in order to support MCX, a consortium of retailers, including the drugstore chain, developing their own payments program.

All 4,600 Rite Aid stores will begin accepting mobile payments on Aug. 15, including Apple Pay, Google Wallet and, once it becomes available, Android Pay. As evidence grows that mobile payments is starting to take off, savvy retailers are recognizing that they need to accept a variety of the most popular methods or else risk customers going elsewhere.

“Rite Aid made the decision to begin accepting mobile payments because it is in the best interest of our customers to have a variety of payment options,” said Ashley Flower, senior manager of public relations at Rite Aid Corp.

“Consumers are actively seeking out and using mobile technology while shopping,” she said. “By accepting mobile payments, we’re able to offer Rite Aid customers an easy and convenient checkout process that we know is increasingly important to them.”

Mass appeal
A number of retailers such as Rite Aid and Best Buy reportedly had exclusivity agreements with MCX, which is why the were not accepting Apple Pay, even though the latter payment method made a big splash when it launched last fall.

However, some of these exclusivity agreements may be starting to expire.

Best Buy reversed course in April and started accepting Apple Pay after previously not making it available in its stores.

 

The CurrentC app from MCX

Rite Aid is now taking a similar step and more retailers could follow.

The list of retailers not accepting Apple Pay at one point included 7-Eleven, Home Depot, Jack in the Box and CVS.

Home Depot has said it will be accepting Apple Pay but it is not clear when, or if, they other retailers will jump in.

Emerging technologies
While Apple Pay has expanded its reach significantly since it first became available, it is crucial for any such service to be accepted at many of the retailers consumers shop on a regular basis for it to become an everyday tool and not just a novelty.

Other mobile payments services also continue to jockey for a bigger role.

PayPal recently added both Shell and Subway to the lineup of merchants accepting it.

MCX is expected to launch a trial soon for its CurrentC app. Then there is Android Pay from Google and Samsung Pay, both of which are also on course to become available this year.

For Rite Aid, the expansion of its payments strategy is an important step toward building a mobile strategy that helps it better engage customers and drive sales.

“We continue to explore other emerging and innovative technologies that provide our customers with additional payment options,” Ms. Flower said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York