Apple Pay has made a major pick-up in its quest to sign on retailers – and one that comes as a particularly ominous sign for yet-to-launch rival mobile wallet platform CurrentC.
Best Buy has announced that it will start accepting Apple’s mobile wallet this year. The rollout has begun with Best Buy’s mobile app, which now takes Apple Pay – but that acceptance will carry over into physical stores later this year, once the chain has had time to update its checkout systems for NFC compatibility.
There is another reason that Best Buy will have to hold off on its acceptance of Apple Pay in stores, however – the electronics and home goods vendor must wait until its exclusivity deal with MCX expires this summer.
That Best Buy is jumping ship to Apple Pay as soon as contractually possible should really concern some, as Best Buy was one of the founding members of MCX, the retailer consortium behind the CurrentC Wallet.
"The merchants of MCX created MCX,” MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson said in a press conference in late 2014. “They invested their time, their talent and their money to build a consumer friendly solution. The merchants of MCX are free to make the best decision for their consumers as they see fit."
Best Buy, it seems, has made its decision.
And that choice spells bad news for MCX. Best Buy is the first founding member to publicly break ranks and abandon the contractual agreement not to accept mobile payments from other sources.
"At some point later this year our exclusivity period ends so there would obviously be no issues there,” MCX Chief Operating Officer Scott Rankin said in an interview. “We would obviously love to go faster, but we want to make sure when we build this thing, we build it right."
And since building it fast is no longer an option – the CurrentC wallet will reportedly go into wide launch sometime during this calendar year – it seems that MCX will have to be especially concerned with building it right, since at this point there is no guarantee that Best Buy will be signing on.
"We remain invested in MCX,” a Best Buy spokesperson told Re/Code. “We are actively monitoring their pilots…It’s too early to declare whether we will take it at launch."
Best Buy is a high profile defector (and potential departure) for MCX, but the question today is about when and if the other shoe – called Target – might drop. Like Best Buy, Target is already using Apple Pay in their app. Like Best Buy, they are a founding member of MCX. And, like Best Buy, Target’s exclusivity deal expires this summer.