Discover, the only major U.S. card network that did not support Apple Pay at the mobile wallet's launch, has inked a deal with Apple, eliminating some of the fragmentation in the mobile wallet's deployment.
The development comes just as the tech giant officially launched its Apple Watch wearable device, for which several credit unions have already developed apps.
Though individual issuers, including Discover debit card issuers, must separately agree to Apple's terms to participate in Apple Pay, the mobile wallet will be able to handle payments on all major networks merchants use to accept card payments in the U.S. Discover support will go live at participating merchants this fall, Discover announced in an April 27 press release.
Discover has typically been one of the first networks to sign on with new digital wallet projects; it was a launch partner for Google Wallet, Softcard and was instrumental to expanding the use of PayPal at the point of sale. Thus, its absence from Apple Pay was especially conspicuous, though the card network communicated early on that it was working to reach an agreement with Apple.
While Discover was always expected to join Apple Pay, it spent much of the fall and winter running advertisements focusing on its other mobile technology initiatives.
Bankers and merchants have expressed mixed feelings about Apple Pay, with some merchants going so far as to block all Near Field Communication payments to prevent Apple Pay from gaining a foothold in their stores. However, Apple has benefited from speed to market; even though it launched years after Google Wallet and other competing initiatives, Apple Pay's other major rivals — the merchants' CurrentC wallet and Samsung's Samsung Pay — are still in development.