In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, an Apple Pay rival that never actually launched has now fizzled. CurrentC was backed by a group of retailers under the banner Merchant Customer Exchange and caused a kerfuffle when Apple Pay launched because many of its retail members turned off Near-Field Communication on their payment terminals to thwart people trying to use their iPhones to pay. Apple Pay is still chugging along and CurrentC may never emerge.
The consortium announced Monday that the CurrentC rollout has been postponed and that the company will lay off 30 employees after “feedback from the marketplace and our Columbus pilot,” TechCrunch reported. MCX tested CurrentC at Target, Walmart, and other retail locations in Columbus, Ohio.
Walmart is experimenting with its own mobile payment platform, while Target has confirmed that it will support Apple Pay at stores nationwide later this year.
MCX CEO Brian Mooney said that the group will focus on “working with financial institutions [like Chase] to enable and scale mobile payment solutions.” It’s unclear exactly how the consortium will do that or when CurrentC will eventually roll out, if ever.
The story behind the story: It’s not looking good. CurrentC was supposed to launch last summer but the rollout was pushed to this year because retailers wanted to “do it right,” Mooney said at the time. The problem might be CurrentC’s technology, which seems completely archaic when compared to secure NFC options like Apple Pay. The app generates one-time paycodes, essentially like QR codes, for each transaction. MCX said the technology powering CurrentC could pivot at any time and may one day use NFC, but given that the group’s retail members are already jumping ship and that CurrentC lags behind Apple, Google, and Samsung when it comes to actually shipping a mobile payment product, the app’s official launch is looking less and less likely.
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