At October 16 Apple event, Apple launched its much anticipated Apple Pay and tried to take the mobile payments a step ahead. But Apple Pay is facing a major setback because several retailers in United States are blocking the NFC technology and thus Apple Pay from being used in their stores.
More than 50 major retailers including pharmacy chains Rite Aid and CVS have disabled the payment sensors which help the users to use Google Wallet and Apple Pay for payment purposes. These retailers are now rooting for the app CurrentC.
CurrentC is developed by a Walmart headed company called MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange). This CurrentC app uses OR codes instead of NFC technology. The OR codes are shown on cashier’s screen and then are scanned by customer’s phone to facilitate the transaction. Techcrunch reports: “This is also designed to automatically apply discounts, use loyalty programs, and charge purchases to a variety of payment methods without passing sensitive financial data to the merchant.”
Right now CurrentC app is available in iOS and Android stores and can be used by those who have an invite code. While signing up for CurrentC, you are asked to add your bank account. This gives freedom to user to make the payments and skipping the credit card processing fees. Option is provided to add gift cards or loyalty credit cards of retailers. While checking out, you need to open code scanner in CurrentC app and scan the QR code shown on cashier’s screen. In some cases it may be possible that user’s phone displays code and cashier scans it.
Advantages for consumers-
- Compatible with older phones which don’t have NFC, thus giving CurrentC an edge over Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
- Automatic discounts and loyalty cards given by retailers will be accounted in CurrentC seamlessly.
The basic idea and driving force behind MCX’s Apple Pay:
- Dissatisfaction of Walmart due to the credit card processing fee and a resulting lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard.
- If retailers will come together, then they would be able to make consumers adopt their own mobile payment systems and thus avoid the credit card fees.
The company MCX was brought into business in 2011 and since then it has been working secretly on payment services. The company is run by different giants from retail and merchants like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, CVS, Shell Oil, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden), HMSHost (airport restaurants), Hy-Vee (supermarkets), Lowes, Michaels, Publix Super Markets and Sears. These companies have a combined transaction of $1 trillion in payments annually and they operate via more than 110,000 retail outlets.
Right now it’s too early to predict the future of CurrentC. There are chances that it may become another success story but Apple Pay can’t be ruled out easily. Apple Pay doesn’t save any money for retailers but it has the convenience of NFC. On the other had CurrentC has some friction at the user’s end but the combined consent of all retailers may be upsetting for executives at Apple Pay.