Merchant Customer Exchange isn’t exactly a name that rolls off the tongue and prior to the launch of Apple Pay, few if any people knew anything about the merchant-backed company that is poised to take on Apple’s mobile payment solution with their own: CurrentC. Though the CurrentC app and payment system has yet to launch, all attention was focused on the platform following the decision by CVS and Rite Aid to shut down the wireless near-field communication features of their credit card readers, a technology used by Apple Pay and other competing mobile wallets.
This was purportedly due to agreements between MCX members to not accept competing mobile payment services and resulted in a torrent of negative feedback from users of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store, even though they hadn’t actually used CurrentC, a mobile payment system that uses QR codes to make payments at participating retailers. The negative feedback surrounding the mobile payment solution led many angry Apple Pay and mobile wallet users to declare CurrentC “dead on arrival.”
Since then, MCX’s CEO, Dekkers Davidson, has continued to host a number of press conferences and interviews to defend CurrentC, including his latest with the Verge on Wednesday.
In the interview, Davidson attempted to clarify what would happen with merchants that chose to accept competing mobile payment systems alongside CurrentC.
“There are consequences,” Davidson said to the Verge “So if you decide to not keep the agreement that you made with the other merchants we're not going to put a lot of energy in helping get those merchants launched in the near term.” Though Davidson maintains that those exclusivity agreements are expected to end in “months, not years.”
The exclusivity agreement has been a contentious issue as mobile payment has failed to take off for years despite NFC technology being publicly deployed in many merchants for years. While the industry is still nascent, companies are still looking to get a piece of mobile payments, which are expected to grow to $90 billion by 2017, according to Forrester projections.
And despite a number of high-profile credit card breaches this year at Home Depot, Davidson maintained that CurrentC was focused on privacy.
“I think the other pieces of what's really important for consumers is you've got to have a secure system, and I can talk more about that, and a system that also ensures consumer privacy, consumers want the ability in some cases to be totally anonymous to merchants. And if they want that, they'll get that,” Davidson told the Verge. “If they want to reveal more to merchants, they can do that, but it becomes the consumer's choice.”
A number of merchants belong to the MCX consortium, including Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Dunkin Donuts, Shell and many others. And while many Apple Pay and Google Wallet users were irked when CVS and Rite Aid shut off their support for the services, other merchants maintain that they haven’t had the technology implemented at their retail locations.
“Specifically in regards to Apple Pay, we do not have NFC readers in our restaurants at this time, but we are very encouraged by all of the innovation taking place in the mobile payments space,” said Scott Hudler, Dunkin Brands’ global consumer engagement vice president.
“Since ApplePay is relatively new, only about 10 percent of U.S. retailers have the necessary NFC equipment to accept this type of transaction,” a Shell representative said. “Shell will continue to monitor both consumer and merchant adoption of mobile payment options.”