Rite Aid Stores No Longer Shun Apple Pay

11 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Pay and Android Pay coming to Rite Aid.

In fact, Rite Aid’s decision on Tuesday to activate Apple’s mobile payment system in all 4,600 of its stores, starting Aug. 15, turns out to be a win for all NFC-based payment systems, including the soon-to-be-retired Google Wallet and its successor, Android Pay.Nearly a year after Rite Aid disabled access to Apple Pay, the drug store chain announced that it will accept the tech giant’s electronic payment system beginning Saturday.

Rite Aid, the nationwide pharmacy and retail chain, announced on Tuesday it would accept smartphone payments from Apple and Google, two of the largest players in mobile wallet technology, beginning this weekend.Rite Aid has payment terminals capable of accepting Apple Pay transactions, but the drugstore chain turned off support for near-field communication when Apple launched its mobile payment service last October. The ubiquitous U.S. drug store was among those who seemingly rejected Apple Pay last year in favor of the Merchants Customer Exchange (MCX)-backed CurrentC, QR-code-based payment system. “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.” said Ken Martindale, CEO of Rite Aid stores and president of Rite Aid Corporation, in a release. The company announced Tuesdayit will start accepting Apple’s mobile payments technology at all of Rite Aid’s nearly 4,600 stores in the U.S starting Saturday, August 15.

Rite Aid is just the latest national retailer to accept these forms of payment, which require little more than the wave of a smartphone to pay for items with a credit card at the register. Rite Aid was among the retailers who initially shut out Apple Pay in hopes that CurrentC, a mobile wallet developed by a consortium of retailers, would rise to become a formidable alternative to Apple’s service.

When the New York Times looked into why companies were dropping Apple Pay support last year, it noted something important: CurrentC was backed by the Merchant Consumer Exchange (MCX), a retail consortium that has exclusivity terms for members including Rite Aid. The group of retailers are members of Merchant Customer Exchange, MCX, (a consortium of of big retailers and food chains), which developed its own payment app called CurrentC. When Mashable spoke to the company last year, a spokesperson somewhat cryptically explained, “We are continually evaluating various forms of mobile payment technologies, and are committed to offering convenient, reliable and secure payment methods that meet the needs of our customers.” Now, however, that evaluation is done and, while major retailers like Target have yet to turn on the physical components of Apple Pay (they have it in the Target App), the tech industry appears to have spoken. After Apple Pay was announced in early September, CVS Health, Walmart, and Best Buy — who were all members of MCX — said they had no plans to adopt Apple’s new system. But Rite Aid’s inclusion is a stark change from just nine months ago, when the pharmacy chain shut off the ability for its credit card terminals to accept Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

Target CEO Brian Cornell said in May that the company will support Apple Pay after it wraps up its transition to chip-and-pin payment terminals this year. Plus Rite Aid had to upgrade its point of sale systems to support chip-based contactless payment systems, also known as EMV. “It doesn’t change or make Apple Pay that much more compelling for customers,” Mulpuru said. “You still see relatively slow adoption.

That means CurrentC could be more vulnerable to attack, which is the last thing a chain like Rite Aid or Target needs in the era of embarrassing data breaches. At the time, Cornell said, “I told [Apple CEO Tim Cook] we would love to have Apple Pay right now, but I told him before we move any further, we have to finish the work on chip and pin. It’s a tough call, but right thing to do for our business.” As for Mulpuru, she’s surprised to see companies like American Express fall into line so easily. “There’s no reason for them not to play here — you don’t want to be left out,” she said. However, she wondered if they’ve considered what happens if these mobile payments systems become really successful. “Then you become beholden to it.”

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