When Apple Pay was first launched last year, Rite Aid was one of two large retailers to disable their payment terminals that could work with the new service, just a week after it was made available.
While Rite Aid did not explain why they disabled the service, many analysts thought it was a decision to support MCX, retailer-led consortium that is developing its own competing mobile payment service called CurrentC. MCX includes major retailers like Walmart, 7-11, Gap, and Kmart, as well as Rite Aid.
But the consortium has now seen three major defections, including Rite Aid, which announced today that it would accept Apple Pay starting on August, 15, along with Google's Android Pay when it launches.
"By accepting mobile payments, we're able to offer Rite Aid customers an easy and convenient checkout process, which we know is important to them," Rite Aid said in a statement.
The company is the latest member of the MCX consortium to announce it will work closely with Apple's payment system. Kohl's, which has annual revenues of $19 billion and 1,164 stores, said in June that it would start accepting Apple Pay this fall and would integrate its own branded credit card and its loyalty program with the payment service. Best Buy, with annual revenues of $40.4 billion and 1,050 locations in the U.S., said in April it would accept Apple Pay online and then in-stores later in the year.
Ashley Flower, a Rite Aid spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News "Rite Aid is a member of MCX and remains a strong supporter of CurrentC. Our mobile payment strategy includes the acceptance of CurrentC when it becomes available on a nationwide basis."
Flower would not comment on whether Rite Aid's acceptance of Apple Pay was the result of an exclusivity agreement with MCX expiring. "We don't discuss the terms or details of our business agreements," she said. "Please direct your question to MCX."
In a response to questions, MCX provided BuzzFeed News with a statement: "Our 70-plus consumer brands – some of the largest, most successful brands in the world – remain strong supporters of CurrentC," the company said.
"We have recognized from the beginning that some would accept more than one mobile payment option. We understand – and strongly support – our merchant partners' efforts to do what they feel makes the most sense for their particular business. As we have stated in the past, the mobile payments market is still in its infancy and remains wide open."
Updated with statement from MCX.
Matthew Zeitlin is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Zeitlin reports on Wall Street and big banks.
Contact Matthew Zeitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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