Before Apple Pay was announced, more than 50 companies (Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Gap, & others), a coalition of retailers called the Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX, refused to accept Apple Pay and had decided to create their own mobile wallet service called CurrentC.
The new mobile wallet will connect directly to customers bank accounts or store specific credit card data. It is reported to not be available until 2015.
The MCX group has terms in their agreements that prohibit them from accepting competing mobile payment products like Apple Pay. If they break their current contracts they will face steep fines for doing so.
For weeks, Wal-Mart and Best buy have said they will not support Apple’s payment product. Target, which has partnered with Apple for online payments, does not accept Apple Pay in its stores.
First announced in 2012, CurrentC is an effort by merchants to build their ideal mobile wallet. CurrentC is designed to link directly to a customer’s bank account instead of a credit card. This is a strategic move, analysts say; by bypassing the credit card companies, merchants can avoid the high fees that they are required to pay with each credit transaction they process.
CurrentC would also give retailers the ability to track shopping habits across the dozens of stores that belong to MCX, a data set that has traditionally been held by credit card companies, not merchants. If retailers had access to this data, it could be used to deliver relevant deals and loyalty points to consumers, which could increase these companies’ bottom lines.
Critics of CurrentC say it appears much more difficult to use than Apple Pay. Instead of contactless payment technology, CurrentC will rely on QR codes, a type of bar code that merchants scan to complete the transaction. It will also be an app that users must find and download from Apple’s App store.
Still, many say they believe that if any company is able to widely influence consumer behavior, it is Apple. And if that is the case, MCX may have picked the wrong mobile wallet to back.
Why not accept Bitcoin? The Bitcoin industry has been watching as the Apple Pay program has been released to the public. The overall sentiment is that most are not very impressed or worried about it becoming much competition for the crypto-currency. The same would be said about CurrentC also, as it appears late to the game and lacking in functionality per the critics already.
Watching these different forms of payment try to compete with Bitcoin will be interesting in the year to come.