Rite Aid has reportedly disabled support for Apple Pay according to a report published today in MacRumors. Though the NFC terminals at Rite Aid stores are technically compatible with Apple Pay, it appears that steps are being taken to specifically prevent what would be otherwise valid transactions. Naturally, some Apple Pay users are frustrated at this surprising turn of events given that Apple Pay transactions worked well at Rite Aid earlier in the week.
Josh Hudnall is one such user who recounted his failed attempt to use Apple Pay at Rite Aid.
Today, Allison asked me to pick up a few things on my way home from the office, and I'm a major nerd, so naturally I was all too happy to oblige. I was equally disappointed, then, when my transaction was declined with a message on the terminal informing me that Apple Pay was not supported. The terminal mentioned Apple Pay by name. So the system is smart enough to know about Apple Pay and to decide not to take it.
What's more, Hudnall relays that the cashier informed him that the store had received an email earlier that day indicating that they will not be supporting Apple Pay.
So what's going on here?
Some old fashioned and completely misguided competition, that's what.
You see, Rite Aid is part of a consortium of retailers who are throwing their support behind an upcoming mobile payments platform called CurrentC which was developed by a company called Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). MCX's goal is to be a universal mobile payment platform and enjoys support from a number of top tier retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears, CVS, 7-Eleven, GAP, Wendys and more. So if you've been wondering why some retailers haven't been quick to support Apple Pay, look no further than MCX.
Now you might be wondering: "Why can't retailers support both mobile payment platforms and let consumers decide with their wallets?"
As it turns out, MCX's policy is such that its members cannot accept payment from other mobile wallets.
Notably, CurrentC doesn't operate via NFC. As a result, retailers on the CurrentC bandwagon can prevent Apple Pay transactions simply by turning off NFC functionality on otherwise modern POS machines. As a final point, it's also worth noting that CurrentC isn't even scheduled to go live until 2015.