CurrentC is a clumsy, industry-driven shot against credit card companies that will quickly become irrelevant, writes Josh Constine in an article for TechCrunch. While the system offers a couple of advantages, they are almost irrelevant compared to the convenience offered by Apple Pay.
Constine’s outline of the project suggests that it was never meant to compete against Apple Pay, and was instead a concentrated attack against credit card companies’ domination over retail transactions. Major credit card companies typically charge retailers fees of 2 to 3 percent, a practice that apparently has long infuriated major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and 7-Eleven. So a few years ago a bunch of retailers got together and started a company called Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, to develop a mobile commerce platform that could edge Visa and MasterCard out of some market share. The move was led by Wal-Mart, whose former CEO Lee Scott is reported to have said, “I don’t know that MCX will succeed, and I don’t care. As long as Visa suffers.”
Interestingly, at the start of 2013 MCX asked retailers to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to sign up for the app, and got them to sign exclusivity deals. That may explain why American pharmacies Rite Aid and CVS Health recently dropped support for Apple Pay without explanation. Such is the speculation, anyway, because Apple Pay is poised to be a powerhouse in the mobile commerce market. While CurrentC has the advantage of not requiring NFC technology at retailers’ POS, those merchants will soon have to install that technology anyway to comply with regulations set to come into play next year; and NFC allows for a more convenient user experience via Apple Pay, while the CurrentC the user must scan a code on a receipt printed by the merchant. Moreover, Apple already has many retailers on board, and its mobile devices’ fingerprint-scanning Touch ID biometric security adds a great degree of security to the transactions, which will go a long way towards allaying consumers’ anxieties about fraud.
With Apple Pay already rolling out, and CurrentC set to officially launch in ‘early 2015’, the latter could be dead on arrival. But in any case, Visa will suffer.