At least one member of the Merchant Customer Exchange — a coalition of retailers that are blocking Apple Pay and other mobile payment systems in order to promote their own option — seems to have broken from the group. Michigan Live reports that regional grocery chain Meijer has decided to keep accepting mobile payments besides MCX's app "CurrentC," letting customers tap their NFC-enabled phones to pay for things like groceries and gas. "We don't plan to remove or disable these systems," said spokesperson Frank Guglielmi.
That decision separates it from companies like Walmart, Rite Aid, and Best Buy, all of which disabled their mobile payment systems over the weekend. That meant shutting out not just Apple Pay, but older and more established services like Google Wallet. They're planning to replace them with CurrentC, which is set to roll out next year, but customers so far haven't been enthused about the idea of switching to an app that benefits retailers but isn't integrated into a larger ecosystem like Google's or Apple's. To make things worse, some people who signed up for invitations were informed thattheir email addresses had leaked in a hack, a fairly minor security issue that nonetheless didn't leave a good impression.
Meijer has roughly 200 locations across five states, making it far from the most influential MCX member. But it's the first we know of to say that it's not going to disable its NFC payment system. It's not clear whether it will face penalties for doing so. Anonymous sources told The New York Times that companies could face "steep fines" if they break their contracts with MCX, though the CEO later denied this in a press conference. MCX has also left open the possibility of accepting Apple Pay in the future, once CurrentC has had a chance to launch.
When asked by Recode whether Meijer would be barred from using CurrentC, MCX's COO gave a vague answer: "I think if they want to go forward and continue to accept Apple Pay, down the road at some point if they want to be a customer of MCX and roll out CurrentC and offer it to customers that's great."