Best Buy shoppers can now use Apple Pay to complete purchases made through the electronics retailer's app, a coup of sorts for Apple in the intense mobile-payments business.
For now, Apple Pay transactions are limited to Best Buy's app, but the companies expect consumers to be able to use the mobile payment method for in-store purchases later this year, the retailer announced Monday. Best Buy was a major supporter of the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX -- a consortium of retailers led by Walmart that has developed a competing mobile-payments system.
"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," Best Buy said in a statement announcing the partnership.
Apple Pay, which launched in October on theand 6 Plus, is a key feature of the new Apple Watch, which hit the market last week. Its NFC technology allows users to tap their devices at payment terminals in stores to buy merchandise and pay for services.
Apple faces stiff competition from other companies that offer similar mobile payments services. Samsung offers its newfeature on the new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge and has unveiled a mobile payments service called . PayPal, the digital payments unit being spun off from eBay later this year, , a startup that helps companies such as Subway and Capitol One build mobile payments options.
Best Buy is one of several retailers part of MCX, which aims to challenge Apple Pay with its own CurrentC mobile-payments system. Apple Pay, with some members of the consortium deciding to disable consumers' ability to use , in anticipation of the launch of MCX's alternative payments service.
The group denied encouraging the Rite Aid and CVS drugstore chains to block Apple Pay by disabling NFC terminals. CurrentC, which now uses QR codes instead of NFC, is expected to launch widely later this year.
MCX said Monday afternoon that Best Buy remains an MCX partner and supporter of CurrentC.
"We understand -- and strongly support -- our merchant partners' quest to do what's best for their customers," Scott Rankin, MCX's chief operating officer, said in a statement. "As we have stated in past, we are of the firm belief that there need to be at least 2 to 3 major players within the mobile payments ecosystem for it to succeed."
Apple first introduced the capability with about 500 financial-institution partners and 220,000 US merchant locations that take mobile payments via NFC's short-range, secure wireless capabilities. In its first three months on the market, Apple Pay expanded to availability in more than 700,000 locations, Apple CEO Tim Cook said last month.
Earlier Monday, the credit card Discovery announced that its 61 million card holders would be able tolater this year, giving Apple access to a large pool of potential Apple Pay customers. With the announcement, Discover joins previous partners Visa, MasterCard and American Express, giving Apple a lock on all four major credit cards in the US.