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
71 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
71 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
71 months ago
Who ever came up with this should be fired.
Score: 91 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
71 months ago
How is this any easier then paying with cash or card? What an awful idea.
Score: 84 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
71 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
71 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

Leaker Claims New 13-inch MacBook Pro Coming as Soon as Next Month

Monday April 6, 2020 2:56 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple will announce a new 13-inch MacBook Pro in May with the codename J223, according to a rumor shared by YouTuber and leaker Jon Prosser. Note: it’s a refresh to the current 13” So the bigger 14” display upgrade is a big possibility— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) April 4, 2020 Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with scissor keyboards ...

iOS 14 Could Offer Home Screen Widgets, Wallpaper Customizations

Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30 pm PDT by Frank McShan
iOS 14 could offer home screen widgets and wallpaper customizations for the first time, according to 9to5Mac and Twitter user DongleBookPro. Apple is reportedly working to implement widgets that can be moved freely around like icons on the iPhone and iPad homescreen for the very first time. The feature is reportedly codenamed "Avocado" and no other details are available. It was also...

'Leaked' Images Allegedly Show iPhone 12 With Smaller Notch, Rear Camera Redesign, and Home Screen Widgets

Tuesday April 7, 2020 4:28 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Two images shared on social media this morning are currently stoking speculation about possible hardware redesigns coming to the iPhone 12 and the potential introduction of Home screen widgets in iOS 14. Shared by Twitter user Fudge (choco_bit), the images depict a front and rear graphical representation of a smartphone with interface elements on the screen, suggesting it came out of a...

More References to Apple's Upcoming Low-Cost iPhone Appear Online

Monday April 6, 2020 4:38 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Further references to Apple's upcoming low-cost iPhone have appeared online, one on a Chinese e-commerce website and another on Verizon's smartphone trade-in page. Spotted by tech blog MySmartPrice, Chinese retailer JD.com has published a placeholder for Apple's so-called "iPhone 9" that includes a teaser image of a veiled smartphone, but other than that it lacks any particularly revealing...

The New York Times, IFTTT, Medium, and Other Apps Adopt Sign in With Apple Ahead of June 30 Deadline

Sunday April 5, 2020 7:08 pm PDT by Frank McShan
Apps with sign-in functionality, including The New York Times, IFTTT, Medium, and more, have continued to adopt Apple's secure Sign in with Apple feature ahead of a deadline of June 30. The deadline for these apps to support the feature was recently extended from April 30. Sign in with Apple, first introduced in iOS 13, allows users to create accounts for apps and websites using an Apple ID. ...

Some Users Experiencing System Crashes on macOS 10.15.4, Especially During Large File Transfers

Monday April 6, 2020 8:17 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
A sizeable number of Mac users are experiencing occasional system crashes after updating to macOS Catalina version 10.15.4, released a few weeks ago. The crashing issue appears to be most prominent when users attempt to make large file transfers. In a forum post, SoftRAID described the issue as a bug and said that it is working with Apple engineers on a fix for macOS 10.15.5, or a...

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.4.1 With Fix for FaceTime Bug

Tuesday April 7, 2020 10:06 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.4.1, minor updates that come two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.4, major updates that introduced iCloud Folder Sharing, a new Mail toolbar, trackpad support for the iPad, and more. The iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4.1 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General...

Top Stories: Apple Leaks iPhone SE and AirTags, Apple Buys Dark Sky, and More

Saturday April 4, 2020 6:00 am PDT by MacRumors Staff
With the calendar rolling over to April this week, we yet again saw several leaks and rumors, most notably including Apple itself leaking some references to a pair of long-rumored products: a new budget iPhone SE and AirTags item trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple also acquired popular weather app Dark Sky, while Amazon's Prime Video app now allows...

Apple Reportedly Targeting WWDC for Over-Ear Headphones Launch, New 'AirPods X' Later in the Year

Tuesday April 7, 2020 7:00 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Rumors of Apple-branded over-ear headphones have been circulating for quite some time, while more recent rumors have mentioned an "AirPods Pro Lite" that could also be in the works, and Twitter leaker Jon Prosser's recent foray into Apple rumors provides a bit more detail on what we might able to expect for these products. Current Beats Studio3 Wireless and BeatsX On the over-ear side,...

Apple Donating Over 20 Million Masks to Healthcare Professionals, Producing Face Shields With Suppliers

Sunday April 5, 2020 2:51 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple CEO Tim Cook today shared a video message with an update on the company's response to the ongoing pandemic. Cook said Apple has now sourced over 20 million masks that it is in the process of donating to healthcare professionals around the world. Apple is working with governments to ensure that the masks are donated to the places of greatest need. Cook added that Apple's design,...