Rite-Aid , CurrentC Member, Reverses Course to take NFC Payments Again

Posted by at 11:05 am on August 11, 2015

Rite-AidRite-Aid, a drugstore chain that turned off access to NFC-based mobile payment systems despite protests as part of its compliance with a rival system still to appear, CurrentC, has relented and will begin offering support for Apple Pay and other wireless payment options starting August 15, the company said. Announced last year, Current-C has yet to appear, leading to increasing customer frustration with stores that don’t offer mobile payment options.

MCX, the company said to be developing CurrentC, had previously imposed restrictions on member chains that they could not accept any other form of mobile or NFC-based payment, forcing merchants to turn off the capability in terminals that otherwise would have worked with them. Rite-Aid stores briefly accepted Apple Pay and other systems before being told to turn off the NFC capability.

CurrentC’s system, should it eventually appear, uses a far more awkward and complex system of generating a QR code on the user’s phone, which is then read by the clerk, who then completes the transaction. The system as outlined thus far has two distinct disadvantages to Apple Pay and similar mobile payment systems: transaction and customer data are retained and shared among merchants, and the system is considerably less secure, requiring the tying of bank information like checking accounts or store cards to the system.

However, CurrentC’s initial advantage was that it was strong on support for store loyalty programs, a feature Apple Pay has since addressed, and that CurrentC works with a far wider variety of current and older smartphones and operating systems than the limited Android Pay or the Apple-only Apple Pay. It’s unclear if Rite-Aid — along with other member Best Buy, which also announced that support is coming for Apple Pay — are taking advantage of the end of an exclusivity period, or are bucking the requirements because the system has failed to arrive, despite many months of development.

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