Another Setback for CurrentC: No Wider Rollout This Year as Otherwise Planned

The CurrentC app developed by the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) may not push its service across the US this year. The company will begin a public beta of its app in Columbus, Ohio in a few weeks but will not rush a wider rollout if the product is not ready, MCX CEO Brian Mooney said to Re/code in an interview.

This is a long game, Mooney said in the interview. Certainly, going faster is always better—that’s not necessarily a debatable point. But we’re going to do it right.

A few months ago, on September 3, 2014, MCX unveiled CurrentC—the brand for its new payment network. CurrentC was unveiled as a mobile payment system exclusive to MCX members. MCX came up with CurrentC as an alternative for retailers to reduce the interchange fees they have to pay banks and to be able to accept mobile payments without costly upgrades.

CurrentC has the backing of some of the world's largest merchants, including Walmart, Target, Kohl's, and Best Buy. It is designed to work on all types of smartphones and allows users to transact with their app in place of a physical card or cash. On the contrary, Apple Pay and upcoming services like Samsung Pay let consumers pay by providing account information from cards like Visa, MasterCard, etc.

The mobile payments field is at an unprecedented height of action and commotion. The exponential growth of smartphones for making payments has attracted companies like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay to get a pie of this market. When CurrentC finally hits the retail space, it will have to face tough competition because of the growing number of companies in the mobile-payments space.

The public test is happening not long after MCX loses exclusivity with its retail partners. When MCX started, its partners agreed not to adopt alternative mobile-payment systems for a period. The exclusivity agreement will expire this week. Retailers that are part of MCX are now free to use payment systems from a wide range of companies.

The US-based retail consortium Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which boasts big retailers as its members, is clearly struggling with its payments initiatives. Last October, for instance, two of MCX's merchants—Rite Aid and CVS—announced that they would not support Apple Pay (which launched in October). In April, Best Buy, which is a member of the retailer consortium MCX and a rival of Walmart, announced the acceptance of Apple Pay. It’s customers, using an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, can use Apple Pay to make purchases on the Best Buy app.

Recently, national drug store chain Rite Aid announced that it will be accepting Apple Pay and Google Wallet from August 15 at all 4,600 stores present across the US.

Retail chains which were optimistic about CurrentC are now moving towards Apple Pay which has already achieved a lot in just one year. The fate of CurrentC remains to be seen.