MCX Postpones Mobile-Payment Effort

Retailer-backed ‘CurrentC’ app pulled after Columbus test; firm lays off 30 workers

By 
Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

MCX CurrentC

WALTHAM, Mass. -- In a move that may mark the end of a retailer-driven mobile-payment solution, the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) opted to postpone the rollout of its beta test in Columbus, Ohio, at the same time announcing a layoff of 30 workers.

Speculation that the effort—backed by dozens of high-profile retailers that include Wal-Mart, Target and 7-Eleven—was losing ground to competitive options such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay appears to be accurate, with MCX’s quick-response (QR) code CurrentC solution now in limbo.

Waltham, Mass.-based MCX, however, had not conceded total defeat. Last fall, it announced a partnership with Chase Pay to assist New York-based JP Morgan Chase in developing its payment solution. That partnership, along with other similar banking ties, will be MCX’s new focus, officials said.

In a press statement, Brian Mooney, CEO of MCX, addressed a number of these issues:

“Utilizing unique feedback from the marketplace and our Columbus pilot, MCX has made a decision to concentrate more heavily in the immediate term on other aspects of our business, including working with financial institutions like our partnership with Chase, to enable and scale mobile-payment solutions. As part of this transition, MCX will postpone a nationwide rollout of its CurrentC application. As MCX has said many times, the mobile payments space is just beginning to take shape—it is early in a long game. MCX’s owner-members remain committed to our future.

“As a result, MCX will need fewer resources. This change has resulted in staff reduction of approximately 30 employees. These are very tough decisions, but necessary steps. For those employees leaving us, we want to thank our colleagues for their hard work and dedication to MCX over the last several years.”

Complicating matters for MCX in recent weeks was a move from one of its founding supporters, Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart to launch its own payment app, a decision that ran against the group’s initial guidelines to prioritize what would become CurrentC.

MCX started about four years ago, with the goal of using the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network to circumvent the major credit cards and their high interchange fees. During that time, the coalition endured several delays in the delivery of its payment solution, potentially creating a competitive gap too large to close.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
View More Articles By Angel Abcede