The roll out of the vaunted Apple Pay is continuing to unfold at a glacial pace. A look at the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) website indicates that only a few brands have been added to the list of retailers that accept the solution.
The only names added to the list since I last checked back in July that I would consider major retailers are Meijer—the supercenter operator from the Midwest—Office Depot/OfficeMax, Jet Blue Airways, and the Jewel Osco drugstores. A few more regional supermarket chains, such as Macey’s in Utah, have signed up as well.
Here is a complete list of the retailers currently accepting Apple Pay:
- Acme Markets – an Albertson’s subsidiary that operates around Philadelphia
- American Eagle Outfitters
- The Apple Store
- Bashas’ – a supermarket chain that operates primarily in Arizona
- BILO – a supermarket chain that operates in Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee
- BJ’s Wholesale Club – a warehouse club that operates mostly on the East Coast and in Ohio
- Champs Sports
- Chevron gas stations
- Coca-Cola Vending
- Dan’s Fresh Market – a California supermarket chain
- Davis Food and Drug – a Utah supermarket chain
- Dick’s Fresh Market, which operates supermarkets in Minnesota
- The Disney Store
- Duane Reade – a Walgreens subsidiary that operates drugstores in New York City
- Express – a chain of clothing stores
- ExtraMile – a group of convenience stores associated with Chevron
- Firehouse Subs
- FoodMaxx Maximum Discount Supermarkets – a chain located in California
- Foot Locker
- FootAction shoe stores
- Fuddruckers restaurants
- Golden State Warriors NBA franchise
- Harvey’s Supermarkets – a chain that operates in Georgia, Florida, and Southern Carolina
- House of Hoops by Foot Locker
- Jamba Juice
- Jet Blue Airways
- Jewel Osco
- Kids Foot Locker
- Lady Foot Locker
- Lin’s Fresh Market – a chain of supermarkets in Utah
- Luby’s restaurants
- Lucky Stores – a Save Mart supermarket chain located in Northern California
- Macey’s – a supermarket chain in Utah
- Macy’s department stores
- Office Depot
- Office Max
- Orlando Magic NBA franchise
- Panera Bread
- Peet’s Coffee & Tea
- Pep Boys
- Phoenix Suns NBA franchise
- Radio Shack
- Rubio’s Coastal Mexican Grill
- Run by Foot Locker
- Save Mart Supermarkets
- Sephora – cosmetics stores
- Shaw’s – a supermarket chain that operates in New England
- Six:02 – a chain of women’s fitness clothing stores
- Sports Authority
- Sprouts Farmers Market
- Star Market – a subsidiary of Shaw’s
- Texaco gas stations
- Toys R Us
- United Supermarkets – an Albertson’s subsidiary that operates in Texas and Oklahoma
- Unleashed by Petco
- Walt Disney World
- Whole Foods Market
- Winn Dixie supermarkets
Missing from Apple Pay: Almost All the Biggest Names in Retail and Much More
As you can see, many of the biggest names in American retail are still missing from the list, including the nation’s largest supermarket operator, Kroger, which owns such chains as Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Smiths, Harris Teeter, and King Sooper’s. All of the dollar store operators; Walmart, the largest retailer in the universe; Amazon.com; most department stores; and all of the hardware and home improvement stores are also missing.
Most airlines, all hotel companies, and most fast food joints, including Burger King, Chipotle, Sonic Drive Ins, In & Out Burger, Domino’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, are conspicuous in their absence. Starbucks, the nation’s most popular coffee shop, is also missing. Also nowhere to be found are the majority of popular sit-down restaurants, such as Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster.
Some of the exclusions from the list are also confusing. Why is Disney World mentioned but Disneyland is not, for example? Why are only two or three NBA teams named instead of the entire league? Some Albertson’s subsidiaries appear on the list, but Albertson’s itself is absent. Albertson’s does appear on the list of coming soon, but Safeway, with which it is merging, is not there.
Trader Joe’s is still on the coming soon list as is Raley’s, a privately-held supermarket chain in California that also owns Nob Hill Foods, Food Source, and Bel Air Markets. There are some interesting additions to the coming soon list, including Big Lots!, Marriott Hotels, Kohl’s, and Forever 21. Unfortunately, appearance in Coming Soon does not mean a retailer will be accepting Apple Pay any time soon; Albertson’s has been there every time I’ve looked.
To add to the confusion, you can apparently use Apple Pay in the Target, Dunkin Donuts, Best Buy, and Starbucks apps but not at Target, Dunkin Donuts, Best Buy, or Starbucks stores. That, of course, will only add to the frustration for shoppers at those companies’ locations.
I might also add that there is no guarantee that all franchisees in chains such as Subway or gas stations with certain brand names like Texaco or Chevron will actually take Apple Pay. Nor is there any guarantee that Coca-Cola vending machines will actually take it.
Where Is Current C?
Judging by the list, Apple Pay is still very much a work in progress, although it is far further along than its major competitor, Current C, which is conspicuously missing in action. We have heard little or no news about Current C, which is being prepared by the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, a consortium of retailers that includes Walmart, Target, Kroger, and Best Buy, among others.
On July 23, 2015, Bloomberg Business reported that Current C would be tested in August and rolled out sometime in third quarter of 2015. Bloomberg got this information from a spokesperson for home improvement store Lowe’s, which, interestingly enough, will not be part of the initial roll out.
When asked about that, all MCX’s chief operating officer Scott Rankin said to Bloomberg was that his organization will be doing “public tests” later this year. Rankin did not say where the public test would be or what stores they would involve.
That would be the second round of tests. Current C testing involving Target locations in Minneapolis, where the chain’s headquarters is located, was reported last year. Those tests only involved Target employees and not the public. Bloomberg reported that Walmart and Best Buy have also conducted tests of Current C, but it has not been tested by actual shoppers yet.
This sounds as if the MCX has run into some technical problems with Current C, perhaps security issues. The organization’s computers suffered an embarrassing hack last year. Another problem could be lack of cooperation from banks, card companies, and other payment providers, which could fear the competition.
One reason for Current C and MCX is to create a payment platform to rival those operated by MasterCard and Visa. Bloomberg reported that MCX has not yet signed an agreement with Visa, which is the world’s credit card operator. Instead, it will only work with store cards like Target’s REDcard or checking accounts.
Bloomberg did not say whether Current C has agreements with other credit cards issuers such as MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. MCX might be delaying testing until it comes to term with major credit card companies. Another possibility is that MCX is trying to cut a deal with an existing payment app provider such as PayPal, Google, or even Apple Pay.
Apple Pay Explosion in September
One thing is certain: We could see a major increase in retailers that accept Apple Pay in September. An agreement that prohibited MCX members from using alternatives such as Apple Pay is set to expire in August 2015. That means many of them could simply jump ship to Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and other alternatives if there is no Current C available.
Disclosure: the blogger is holding PayPal and Kroger Shares