Rite Aid pulled a 180 today, announcing that its 4,600 stores in the United States will begin accepting Apple Pay and Google Wallet as a payment option beginning August 15.
Rite Aid and CVS spurred a controversy last year after disabling Apple Pay and Google Wallet as payment methods last year, likely because both are members of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) consortium, which has its own mobile payments service called CurrentC. MCX launched in August 2012 with a three-year exclusivity period for all members, which ends this month.
“Increasingly, consumers are actively seeking out and incorporating mobile technology into many facets of their life, including their shopping and purchasing decisions,” said Ken Martindale, CEO of Rite Aid stores and president of Rite Aid Corporation. “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. Investing in mobile technologies is just one piece of Rite Aid’s evolving digital strategy and we will continue to explore, test and implement innovative technologies that will help us to better serve our valued customers.”
MacTrast’s non-BS translation: “Yes, we know we screwed up big time by turning off support for Apple Pay and Google Wallet last year, but we were stuck in that damn exclusivity agreement with MCX, so what are you gonna do?”
A study published last week indicated the number of iPhone users that are willing to try out Apple Pay has declined over the past three months. The study also noted a decline in usage rates from both casual and previously committed iPhoneusers.
Apple recently rolled Apple Pay out to the U.K., where tap-to-pay is more prevalent, and has plans to expand the service to China and Japan, where customers also have more familiarity with touchless transactions.