Rite Aid Tuesday said that, contrary to its stance announced in October, it will begin accepting Apple Pay and Google Wallet, two NFC-enabled mobile payment systems.
Rite Aid is one of several retailers originally committed to MCX, a consortium of retailers led by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. that is developing a rival payment mobile system, CurrentC.
MCX member Target has been accepting Apple Pay within its app for months, and Best Buy reversed course in April and said it would accept Apple Pay once its MCX exclusivity agreement expired.
Neither Rite Aid nor the other retailers that have switched course and decided to accept Apple Pay and Google Wallet are saying, but this change of heart could be a result of their exclusivity agreements regarding CurrentC expiring before CurrentC became available. CurrentC is expected to finally launch some time this month.
CurrentC was the brainchild of a group of retailers with retailers in mind, and that may have been its downfall. Its development has been slow and it suffered a hack before it was anywhere near done.
But ultimately, refusing to take Apple Pay and other NFC-enabled mobile payments was destined to do retailers more harm than good.
“These retailers have the ability to accept Apple Pay, and are actively rejecting it,” Tony Bradley of Forbes wrote last year. "That is a horrible strategy that will backfire, and give Apple Pay customers incentive to shop elsewhere.”
Similarly, Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy, called the approach a “business decision over a customer satisfaction decision.”
But several retailers once wed to CurrentC apparently have come to their senses and will indeed be accepting NFC payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Look for more MCX retailers to become more open-minded in this space, especially since MCX has said, contrary to rumor, there are no penalties for members that accept mobile payment options outside of CurrentC.
If CurrentC succeeds in this space, it may have to do so on its own merits, and not because Apple Pay or other options aren’t on offer. In the end, says loyalty and payment platform nanoPay CEO-founder Laurence Cooke, mobile will continue to be increasingly used for payment, and CurrentC could be part of that movement (as well as benefit from it).
We’re in a moment of natural selection when it comes to payments, Cooke told Retail Dive, and the switch to EMV could accelerate the movement to mobile thanks to its combination of security and convenience.
“My only opinion is that what is accepted should be up to retailers to choose,” Cooke says. “I don’t think we should force any one thing.”