After accepting Apple Pay at all of its stores on the Apple Pay launch day on Monday (Oct. 20), the $26 billion 4,600-store Rite Aid pharmacy chain apparently changed its mind and yanked support from those stores Wednesday (Oct. 22), with no official explanation, according to a report in Mac Rumors. (PYMNTS.com E-mails and call messages left with Rite Aid media relations were not returned as of deadline.)
“Apple Pay should technically be compatible with any point-of-sale systems supporting NFC technology, but customers who made successful Apple Pay payments earlier this week have found their payments were being denied yesterday and today,” Mac Rumors reported Thursday (Oct. 23). “According to Twitter reports, the retailer also unexpectedly turned off support for Google Wallet at the same time.”
A Forbes.com story pointed out how unusual this move is. ” In order to do this, you have to specifically design your back end to look for transactions using those IDs and then halt then while still allowing ordinary NFC-equipped cards to pass through. In other words, you have to spend effort to inconvenience your customers,” Forbes said. “My local RiteAid is my drugstore of choice because it’s nearby and on the way to/from many other errands. I’ll be sure to let management know I’m going out of my way until they reverse this weird decision.”
One shopper quoted in the Mac Rumors piece speculated that the move might have been because Rite Aid was an early backer of Walmart-backed MCX’s CurrentC and that rival Walgreens is a major Apple Pay supporter. Rite Aid has indeed given marketing support to MCX for years, so it’s unclear how that would explain the reversal. Rite Aid obviously made the decision to embrace Apple Pay long after it supported MCX.