Apple Pay Competitor CurrentC Detailed as Convoluted System With Minimal Consumer Benefit

With recent moves by pharmacy chains CVS and Rite Aid to disable Apple Pay or even NFC payments entirely at their stores, a separate mobile payments initiative backed by these and other major retailers is gaining significant attention. This consortium of merchants, which includes Best Buy, Walmart, Lowe's, and many more, is known as Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) and is developing a mobile payments solution known as CurrentC.

Though it is supported by major retailers attempting to work around the credit card swipe fees charged by banks and card issuers, CurrentC may be hindered by a complicated user interface and security concerns as detailed in a report by TechCrunch.

currentchowto
Unlike Apple Pay, which uses NFC to process payment wirelessly, the CurrentC system uses a dedicated app and relies on QR code scanning to process a consumer's payment. The app stores receipts as well as provide access to loyalty accounts, which can be used to apply discounts at participating retailers.

To use CurrentC, consumers must have an active account that requires them to set up a bank account as a payment source and confirm their identity by providing their driver's license and social security number. This sensitive information is stored in the cloud and not on the phone.

When you sign up for CurrentC, you’re supposed to add your bank account. This lets CurrentC process payments for you without retailers having to pay the steep credit card processing fee. You can also add retailers’ loyalty credit cards or gift cards as payment methods.

Payments are pulled automatically from the bank account linked to the user's account via Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions, a system adopted as a way to help merchants avoid paying the approximately 2-3 percent fee levied by credit card companies. MCX also provides retailers with consumer intelligence information, allowing them to send targeted ads and discount offers to consumers based on their purchase history.

currentc-data-collected

CurrentC notes it may share info with your device maker, app store, or developer tool makers. Oddly, it will collect health data. Precise location information is used to verify you’re at the retailer where you’re making a transaction, and if you opt in it can be used for marketing or advertising. CurrentC notes that you can opt in to be able to capture and store photos in the app for a hypothetical visual shopping list or other features down the road.

In 2012, MCX reportedly ramped up its efforts to entice retailers to join its mobile payments system., asking participating merchants for an upfront fee of up to $500,000 and requiring them to sign three-year exclusivity deals. These deals appear to be the reason Rite Aid and CVS disabled unofficial access to Apple Pay in their stores, although it is unclear why they waited until after the service went live and customers were using it before disabling their systems.

CurrentC is currently in beta testing and on target for a 2015 launch, which positions it behind Apple's already existing Apple Pay system. It is reportedly being pilot tested in Minnesota at select retailers before rolling out nationwide next year. Because the payments do not require NFC or Bluetooth LE, the system will be compatible with a variety of Android and older model iPhones.

Adoption may be slow as retailers must modify their point of sales systems to accept these payments. Consumers may also balk at a system that requires the cloud storage of sensitive information and a cumbersome checkout process that relies on QR codes accessed through a separate app and tied to direct bank withdrawals. To compensate for these detractors, MCX reportedly will push retailer discounts and loyalty purchases to entice consumers to adopt this upcoming mobile payments system.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
78 months ago
This antiquated technology will be dead on arrival.


You want people's drivers license, social security number and bank account number?

Lol.
Score: 159 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago
Why is everyone complaining?

I can't wait to get ads about erectile dysfunction on my Facebook page after having bought shampoo at CVS using a QR code scanner.

:rolleyes:
Score: 96 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago
Who ever came up with this should be fired.
Score: 91 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago
How is this any easier then paying with cash or card? What an awful idea.
Score: 84 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago
So...in short:

Apple Pay:
1. Hold phone to reader
2. Scan fingerprint

CurrentC:
1. Unlock phone
2. Find CurrentC app
3. Launch CurrentC app
4. Hope you have adequate signal in concrete walls of the store
5. Hold phone up to scanner

Also CurrentC is essentially a debit transaction. So no rewards, reduced fraud protection and increased likelihood of getting actual cash stolen from your bank account (Compared to a credit card being stored locally with Apple Pay.)
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
78 months ago
This will crash and burn soon enough - nobody wants to be scanning QR codes when their devices support NFC.
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Pro Demand Higher Than Expected

Sunday October 18, 2020 10:39 pm PDT by
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note this morning detailing what he's seen with the volume of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders in the first weekend of sales. Kuo had previously indicated that Apple's estimated shipment allocations for the new iPhone models placed the iPhone 12 at the top with 40-45% of inventory allocation (up from 15-20%). However, ...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Charger for iPhone 12

Monday October 19, 2020 11:54 am PDT by
Alongside the new iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a MagSafe charger that attaches to the back of the iPhones using magnets embedded both in the charger and in the iPhone. It allows for speedier charging and paves the way for a portless iPhone in the future. MagSafe chargers are shipping out and are in some Apple retail locations now, and we picked one up to check it out. Subscribe to the ...

Some Apple Watch SE Owners Experiencing Issues With Overheating [Updated]

Monday October 19, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
There may be an issue with the new Apple Watch SE, which some users have found is overheating after a few hours of usage. Several Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea have run into problems, as noted in a Reddit post chronicling the complaints. There have been six reports from Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea who have had their Apple Watches get hot and malfunction, with a yellow spot...

Apple's New MagSafe Charger and Cases Begin Arriving to Customers

Saturday October 17, 2020 10:10 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe charger and cases have begun arriving to some customers earlier than expected, and images of the accessories have started to surface on Twitter. The photos provide a first look at the products in real-world use. As of writing, some MagSafe cases are also available for pickup at select Apple Stores in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. Filip...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 14.1 With Multiple Bug Fixes Ahead of iPhone 12 Launch

Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.1, the first major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 14 operating system updates that were released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.1 come a week after Apple released the golden master versions of the updates to developers. The iOS 14.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access...

Watch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Tuesday October 20, 2020 6:05 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. In addition to our detailed review roundups for each device, we've rounded up over a dozen unboxing videos and first impressions below. iPhone 12 in Blue on left and iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue on right via Engadget Key new features of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro include a flat-edge design, 5G support, a much faster A14 ...

Apple Plans to Enable 5G in Dual SIM Mode With Software Update Later This Year

Monday October 19, 2020 9:20 am PDT by
iPhone XS models and newer feature both a physical SIM slot and a digital eSIM, allowing for a feature known as dual SIM, dual standby. This means you can have two lines of service on one iPhone, which is useful for purchasing data-only plans while traveling abroad or having personal and business lines on a single iPhone. 5G will not be available in Dual SIM mode on the iPhone 12 and iPhone...

Brazilian Certifications Suggest iPhone 12 Mini Features 2,227mAh Battery and iPhone 12 Has 2,815mAh Battery

Friday October 16, 2020 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone mini has the shortest battery life out of all the iPhones in the iPhone 12 lineup due to its small size, but Apple has not provided public information about the battery's capacity. A regulatory filing from Brazil, however, suggests the iPhone 12 mini has a battery capacity of 2,227mAh. The same regulatory information says the iPhone 12 features a 2,815mAh battery, which is...