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MCX Confirms Retailer Exclusivity for CurrentC Mobile Payments, but No Fines for Leaving Consortium

Much of the Apple news in recent days has centered around Apple Pay and what Tim Cook referred to on Monday as a "skirmish" in which several retailers backing a competing mobile payments initiative known as CurrentC have shut down NFC payment functionality in their stores to prevent customer use of Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and other similar services.

Numerous sources have indicated that retailers backing CurrentC are contractually prohibited from accepting alternative forms of mobile payments, and sources told The New York Times that retailers breaking those contracts would "face steep fines."

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Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), the consortium of retailers backing CurrentC, has now published a blog post confirming that retailers working with MCX are indeed required to back CurrentC exclusively. While the group does not directly address whether consortium members could be fined for accepting Apple Pay, it does say members may leave the group without penalty if they so choose.
MCX merchants make their own decisions about what solutions they want to bring to their customers; the choice is theirs. When merchants choose to work with MCX, they choose to do so exclusively and we’re proud of the long list of merchants who have partnered with us. Importantly, if a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines.
While the lack of a fine for leaving the consortium means retailers such as CVS and Rite Aid could still pull out of the CurrentC effort and begin accepting Apple Pay, retailers are undoubtedly reluctant to do so as they view CurrentC has a key effort to escape from credit card swipe fees while maintaining the ability to mine customer information. Many have also already invested significant amounts of money in the CurrentC effort, money that would be lost if they stopped working with MCX.

Beyond its arrangements with retailers, MCX also addresses the features of CurrentC in its blog post, highlighting the fact that it will work with any phone, integrate coupons and loyalty cards, support multiple forms of payment including gift cards, credit cards, and checking withdrawals.

Addressing user privacy, MCX highlights CurrentC's privacy dashboard that will allow customers to control what information is shared with retailers and argues that the system's cloud-based storage of sensitive customer information offers more security than on-device storage that could be more easily compromised through hacking or theft.

MCX's CurrentC program is currently in limited testing, and is expected to launch nationwide sometime next year.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay


Top Rated Comments

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24 months ago
"MCX highlights CurrentC's privacy dashboard that will allow customers to control what information is shared with retailers and argues that the system's cloud-based storage of sensitive customer information offers more security than on-device storage that could be more easily compromised through hacking or theft."

Yep, because no-one has ever hacked into a cloud solution and engaged in the wholesale theft of user data. It's far more efficient to hack in to one Smartphone at a time.

*shakes head*
Rating: 52 Votes
24 months ago
Exec 1: "Should we keep this useless method or switch to the one where potentially millions of people can use it?"

Exec 2: "Yeah, let's do it the dumb way."
Rating: 25 Votes
24 months ago
Let the exodus begin!
Rating: 24 Votes
24 months ago
"retailers...view CurrentC has a key effort to escape from credit card swipe fees"

Here's the thing. I'm probably never going to use CurrentC. It sounds clunky and slow. That means that I'm going to continue to use my credit card, and these retailers are going to continue to pay the swipe fees. So from that perspective, CurrentC is basically a dead end.
Rating: 21 Votes
24 months ago
Interesting. At the end of the day, all those retailers will accept Apple Pay at some point. Probably when they realize customers won't want to use QR codes and cloud based storage of such sensitive information.
Rating: 20 Votes
24 months ago
No fines or penalties, but probably no refunds on their $500,000 investment.

My "on-device storage" is more secure than their cloud.

Has anyone here participated in the private tests of CurrentC in MN or used their app? Is there any public feedback on tests from the merchants or consumers?
Rating: 20 Votes
24 months ago
I say nay. Nay I say...

What MCX proposes to deploy is so...2011. Scanning QR codes, loyalty coupons, allowing a retailer unfettered access to my finances, giving you tons of data about me...

None of that does me - the valuable consumer - any good, really. Just take my money - anyway *I* choose to give it to you, and don't worry about what I buy, where I buy it and when. If I want to save a buck or two, I'll clip the coupon and bring it with me. You're not going to try to up-sell me by analyzing my "patterns."
Rating: 19 Votes
24 months ago

Seems so many are missing why retailers want a system like this and not Apple Pay. Apple Pay makes thing anonymous. Right now you have retailers like Target that track every purchase you make based on your credit card. This means they can mine the big data and do things like send you coupons based on what you buy. They can see when you visit and see how your visits and purchases increase when they send you coupons or flyers or emails. Here is an older story (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/) about how Target's use of big data allowed them to send coupons to a girl that had just become pregnant before even her parents knew. With Apple Pay, your purchase is anonymous. They no longer know who you are so they can't tie that transaction to your profile anymore.

Yes the transaction fee is a hit to them but the above is much bigger. The above has the potential to make them much more than they'll lose in transaction fees.


As a consumer I want to be anonymous. I don't want your corporate greeters to say a mandated hello to me when I walk in; I don't want you to ask me questions at the cash register about your loyalty program; I don't want you to ask me my zip code. I just want to pay and leave.
Rating: 18 Votes
24 months ago
Although my phone could get hacked and its contents stolen, the thief would need physical access to my phone most likely since the data is stored in the secure element. The theft would be targeted at an individual's accounts.

CurrentC's cloud could get hacked and the target would potentially be millions of accounts.

Which does a thief go after?
Rating: 17 Votes
24 months ago
This App Store review pretty much sums up my opinion on CurrentC
Rating: 17 Votes

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