Three years later: Where does MCX stand today?

In March 2012, the industry learned that a leading group of U.S. merchants planned to develop a “new mobile payment solution” that was supposed to give participating merchants a way to integrate “a wide range of consumer offers, promotions and retail programs.” The system also was intended to bypass the card networks for such transactions and eliminate the need to pay interchange, which continues to be an ongoing issue today.

But here we are more than three years after the initial announcement, and the Merchant Customer Exchange’s (MCX) CurrentC mobile app is more an idea at the moment than an actual product. In April, the consortium announced it planned to launch the system some time in the third quarter in an unnamed, midsize market. It’s almost August 1 and nothing is official, though MCX told Bloomberg to expect something in the third quarter. MCX did not respond to Mobile Payments Today’s request for an update.

In the last 42 months, MCX has taken the industry on a wild ride with many potholes and few highlights.

MCX lurked in the background with little mainstream media attention until two of its partners (CVS and Rite Aid) turned off contactless support at their stores soon after Apple Pay went live in October 2014. The move affected not only Apple Pay, but also what was then Google Wallet and Softcard.

That move by CVS and Rite Aid started a debate about NFC vs. QR codes (MCX’s preferred technology), interchange rates and loyalty. MCX immediately found itself in the middle of a public relations fiasco before it officially launched. And then things got worse when MCX revealed the email system it was using with its pilot CurrentC users was hacked. Later that day, CEO Dekkers Davidson participated in an odd 45-minute teleconference in which reporters could only ask questions through an online chat box.

Davidson is no longer with the company.

This photo gallery highlights some of the key points in MCX’s rocky history.


 

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