The Merchant Consortium Exchange, (MCX) on Tuesday informed beta testers of its CurrentC mobile payments solution that it is suspending its beta test as of June 28, and is postponing any further releases of the platform.
The news was delivered in an email sent to all Columbus, Ohio beta testers and shared by The Consumerist. On June 28, when the beta test ends, MCX plans to disable all active accounts and end customer access.
MCX has also announced the news on the CurrentC website, where a FAQ for customers says the company has “not yet determined the future timing of CurrentC,” but will provide future details as to whether or not the project will continue.
May saw an announcement from MCX CEO Brian Mooney, where he shared plans to postpone the wide rollout of CurrentC, following feedback from beta testers. Mooney said MCX would be laying off 30 employees as a part of its downscaling efforts, and would “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.”
MCX has had CurrentC under development since 2012. The service was originally touted as a way for businesses to avoid credit card and debit card fees by linking directly to a customer’s bank account. Following the announcement of Apple Pay and Android Pay, the consortium raised the ire of some member retailers, and their customers, by restricting member retailers from accepting other mobile payment solutions, including Apple Pay, in 2014.
The payment scheme required customers to open an app and scan a QR code to make a payment, a somewhat convoluted system that offered no real advantage over systems such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, which merely required a tap of their device and placing a finger on a fingerprint sensor.
CurrentC was also in the news in late 2014 when the service announced it had been hacked, and said some users’ email addresses had been stolen.
After a number of delays and a missed launch date, retail partners began defecting and now accept competing payment solutions. Retailer Meijer was one of the first consortium members to go rogue, and began accepting Apple Pay in its stores in late 2014. Rite Aid and Best Buy then broke ranks last year, and begun accepting Apple Pay and other NFC payment solutions in their locations.
Perhaps the largest retailer to abandon the CurrentC scheme was Walmart, which on May 16 announced plans to rollout its own mobile payment scheme – WalmartPay – to its stores in Texas and Arkansas. That move may have been the proverbial straw that broke that camel’s back, eventually leading to Tuesday’s announcement.