Rite Aid has taken a 180-degree turn when it comes to mobile payments. After initially refusing to accept Apple Pay in its thousands of physical stores, the drugstore chain says it will now start accepting Apple Pay and Google Wallet payments beginning Aug. 15.
The new payment policy will take effect in all of Rite Aid's 4,600 stores across 32 states and Washington D.C. The company says it will also accept the upcoming Android Pay as well as tap-and-pay credit and debit cards.
Nine months ago, Rite Aid was one of many of the United States' largest retailers that refused to open up its terminals to allow customers to pay for their purchases with Apple Pay. Ashley Flower, a spokesperson for RiteAid, says it was at the time evaluating which mobile payment systems were best to use for their customers.
However, the refusal to accept Apple Pay was actually because Rite Aid, along with other retailers such as CVS Health, Wal-Mart and Best Buy, were members of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a consortium of major retail chains developing CurrentC, their answer to Apple and Google's NFC-based mobile payment systems.
Apparently, many of the retailers' contracts with MCX, which prohibited them from using other mobile payment methods aside from CurrentC, are scheduled to expire this year. In April, Best Buy was the first MCX member to announce a change of heart and begin allowing customers to pay with Apple Pay. And now, Rite Aid is following suit.
"Increasingly, consumers are actively seeking out and incorporating mobile technology into many facets of their life, including their shopping and purchasing decisions," Ken Martindale, CEO and president of Rite Aid, says in a statement. "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."
Despite accepting other mobile payments solutions, Rite Aid remains a member of MCX. Flowers tells CNET that the company will of course accept CurrentC payments once it is launched.
Other MCX members who have expressed support for accepting Apple Pay and Google Wallet payments include Dunkin' Donuts and Kohl, which will both start accepting NFC-based payments in the fall. Meanwhile, another drugstore chain, CVS, says it is still evaluating what mobile payments solutions it will offer to its customers.
Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr