The Merchant Consumer Exchange consortium (MCX), has put the nationwide release of their CurrentC mobile payments system on hold. MCX had been backed by retailers such as Walmart, CVS, Best Buy, and more.
As a result of the move, MCX said it would lay off 30 people, as it shifts its focus to working with financial institutions.
A statement from MCX CEO Brian Mooney (via TechCrunch):
“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.”
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 shackles of some member retailers, and their customers, by restricting member retailers from accepting other mobile payment solutions, including Apple Pay, in 2014.
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 have begun defecting and have begun accepting 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 is Walmart, which on Monday announced plans to rollout its own mobile payment scheme – Walmart Pay – to its stores in Texas and Arkansas. That move may have been the proverbial straw that broke that camel’s back, leading to today’s report that CurrentC has been put on hold.