Apple Pay pays off for retailers and rivals alike

In the few short weeks since Apple Pay's launch, the fledgling mobile payment platform has already left its mark, elevating mobile payments from a solution without a problem to one capable of jump-starting mobile wallet use.

Whole Foods (NYSE:WFM) reported processing more than 150,000 transactions via Apple Pay since its Oct. 20 launch. And close to 1 million accounts were activated in the first 72 hours following the launch, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

That same 72 hours saw a flurry of media activity around the still-in-development mobile payment platform CurrentC, currently being tested by the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). The MCX is a consortium of retailers attempting to develop a proprietary payment system that would circumvent credit-card companies and eliminate swipe fees.

The group had reportedly charged member companies a hefty fee to join and contractually demanded those retailers would exclusively use the payment platform for a period of three years after joining MCX, reported FierceRetailIT in 2013.

"Although charter members were asked to kick in $1 million to join, retailers are being asked to give $500,000 or $250,000," FierceRetailIT reported in January 2013. "Chains are also being asked to commit to three-year mobile payment app exclusivity, meaning they won't support any non-MCX mobile payment other than any mobile payment app they have already deployed. (There's a one-year grace period from the start of membership—where retailers can get out of the deal—and that period is about to expire for most of the initial backers.)"

When CVS and Rite Aid disabled the Apple Pay function in POS terminals due to their membership in MCX, the group held an impromptu press conference where CEO Dekkers Davidson said that retailers were free to leave the group at any time. Retailers are not paying a fee to be a part of the consortium, nor do they face fines should they accept another form of mobile payment.

At the end of the day, or first month of Apple Pay, the result has been a boost in mobile payments across all platforms.

Even Google Wallet may have gotten a shot in the arm from Apple Pay's release. The service, which launched in 2011, failed to gain much traction with shoppers but has seen weekly transactions increase by 50 percent and new users have doubled thanks during Apple Pay's build up and launch, a source told Ars Technica.

Whether or not Apple Pay will lift all boats and spur adoption of mobile payments in the long term is still unclear, but in the short term, the publicity alone has boosted the category.

For more:
-See this Wall Street Journal story
-See this Ars Technica article

Related stories:
MCX will not fine merchants for breaking exclusivity
CurrentC gives more retailers mobile wallet prospects
Apple Pay vs. CurrentC: the race is on
Walmart says no to Apple Pay
Apple Pay is here