When Rite Aid and CVS quietly pulled the plug on Apple Pay after its launch, it came as a surprise because the retailers were initially on board with Apple’s mobile payments system.
But Rite Aid and CVS are members of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a group of big retailers that are committed to their own payments app, called CurrentC.
The nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, is part of MCX. As are other big retailers like Best Buy and Target.
MCX’s CEO, Dekkers Davidson, issued a statement of sorts in response to the MCX vs. Apple Pay controversy on Wednesday in a blog post on the group’s website.
The post essentially says that merchants who joined MCX agreed to work exclusively with MCX and the upcoming CurrentC app.
Without saying it outright, Davidson was implying that member merchants are prohibited from using other mobile payments systems.
But, apparently MCX members can leave the group if they chose without penalty.
“When merchants choose to work with MCX, they choose to do so exclusively and we’re proud of the long list of merchants who have partnered with us,” Davidson writes. “Importantly, if a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines.”
Media reports go a little further in the MCX vs. Apple Pay skirmish. If a retailer decides to accept Apple Pay, this would amount to breaking its contract with MCX, which could draw big fines, according to the New York Times. The MCX agreements were made long before Apple Pay was announced.
This mobile payments battled could get uglier in coming months. Consumers online are calling for boycotts of MCX-member retailers that refuse Apple Pay in favor of CurrentC. These MCX retailers will risk alienating iPhone-carrying customers by disabling Apple Pay, while CurrentC is still months away from launching.