Best Buy customers can now use Apple Pay to make purchases in the Best Buy app when using an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus — with all of the retailer’s physical stores to follow later this year.
While this announcement may not be earth-shattering on its surface, if you dig down a bit you’ll find a potentially big repercussion for the fast-evolving mobile payments industry, which in a short time has ceded much ground to Apple Pay.
Best Buy was a big promoter of the not-yet-released CurrentC, a mobile payment service supported by the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) — a company created by big businesses such as Walmart, 7-Eleven, and CVS drug stores — to help merchants save on credit card processing fees. When CurrentC was introduced in late 2014, Best Buy added its support. That was just after Apple unveiled its Apple Pay.
But now Best Buy apparently needs the popular Apple Pay if it wants to stay current in the mobile space. If other major retailers follow suit, it could spell trouble for CurrentC.
MCX said the CurrentC consortium is still moving forward, despite Best Buy’s acceptance of Apple Pay.
“We are of the firm belief that there need to be at least 2-3 major players within the mobile payments ecosystem for it to succeed,” said chief operating officer Scott Rankin, in a statement. “We remain steadfast and passionate about CurrentC, as well as completely focused on delivering the best mobile commerce solution for our merchant partners and for consumers.”
MCX and CurrentC made a big splash in November, just after Apple Pay launched, when many MCX members, including Best Buy, 7-11, and CVS, disabled some Near Field Communications (NFC) devices that would allow Apple Pay to work at the check-out registers of these stores. Instead, MCX companies said they would be adopting a more “consumer friendly” option called CurrentC, which would work using QR codes.
Best Buy’s statement released with the announcement on Monday: “The acceptance of Apple Pay in the Best Buy app is the latest enhancement for our mobile platform. We are opening a technology innovation office in Seattle this summer to focus largely on mobile and will continue to implement new tools to enhance the customer experience in this important growth area.”