Best Buy to accept Apple Pay, wants to give customers options

Best Buy has been a backer of a rival payment system promoted by US merchants

Best Buy said its customers could start using Apple Pay from Monday to make purchases on its app through the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, thus appearing to break ranks with a group of leading U.S. merchants who are backing an alternative payment system.

"The acceptance of Apple Pay in the Best Buy app is the latest enhancement for our mobile platform," the giant retailer said in a statement on Monday. Best Buy stores in the U.S. will start accepting Apple Pay later this year, it added.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced during an earnings conference call Monday that Apple Pay would be supported on the Best Buy app and in stores later this year.

The move by Best Buy is significant as the retailer is part of Merchant Customer Exchange, a merchant's association that backs its own mobile payments platform called CurrentC. MCX members Rite Aid and CVS stopped accepting Apple Pay at their stores a week after the launch of the Apple system, in a move that was seen as reflecting the rivalry between the two payment systems.

Best Buy could not be immediately reached for comment on whether it would support both CurrentC and Apple Pay once the MCX payment system is available.

The retailer, however, seemed to suggest in its statement that it will support both options. "Today's consumers have many different ways to spend their money and we want to give our customers as many options as possible in how they pay for goods and services at Best Buy," it said.

In October, MCX said in a blog post that while "MCX merchants make their own decisions about what solutions they want to bring to their customers......When merchants choose to work with MCX, they choose to do so exclusively...." MCX members operate more than 110,000 locations and process more than US$1 trillion annually.

MCX said in September that CurrentC had been launched in private pilot mode in select locations across the country. The pilot would expand through 2014, with regional and national rollouts to follow this year. The mobile wallet app will be available to be downloaded for free on both Apple's App Store and Google's Play store, MCX said.

MCX said Monday it expects to launch an early version of its CurrentC app by mid-year in an unnamed, mid-sized market, reported Computerworld.

Apple Pay got another big win on Monday when card issuer Discover Financial Services said its card members in the U.S. would be able to make contactless payments using Apple Pay at participating stores, through the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. Discover card members will also be able to make purchases through apps on the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. At launch in October, Apple Pay was supported by Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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