[Update: Statement from CVS below the fold…]
When Apple Pay launched in the US late last year, Apple’s mobile payment system was officially accepted by several launch partners and unofficially supported by even more retailers and vendors. Then a small number of retailers banded together as members of the Merchant Customer eXchange actually disabled mobile payment support at checkout in favor of an upcoming CurrentC payment system. Drug store chains CVS and Rite Aid were among the first to block Apple Pay support after initially accepting it and even prompting a response from Apple. Now Rite Aid is ending that blockade as it announced today that it will officially accept Apple Pay starting this weekend.
Starting Saturday August 15th, Rite Aid will turn on support for Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Android Pay at almost 4,600 locations around the country. Competing drug store chain Walgreens has officially accepted Apple Pay since launch while CVS remains a hold out.
Other MCX members have similarly announced upcoming support for Apple Pay despite previously resisting in favor of backing CurrentC exclusively.
Earlier this year, Best Buy, another prominent hold out, added Apple Pay support to its iPhone app and said the option would become available at checkout in stores later this fall. Dunkin’ Donuts and Kohl’s both joined the list of vendors adding support this fall as well. The group behind CurrentC vaguely stated last year that the exclusivity holding retailers back from Apple Pay would expire in months, not years, and it appears that we’re finally seeing that happen.
Update: When asked for comment on CVS’s potential plans to accept Apple Pay in the future, a CVS spokesperson had this to say:
At this time, CVS/pharmacy cannot accept ApplePay or other mobile payments that use NFC technology. We are in the process of evaluating mobile payment options for our customers.
Not quite ready to change their tune despite Rite Aid’s move, but it only seems like a matter of when, not if.