JPMorgan Chase has agreed to acquire the payments technology behind CurrentC, the mobile wallet that never had a public rollout, from the retailer joint venture Merchant Customer Exchange.
It means that Chase Pay, which was already in place as part of a planned MCX wallet through a partnership in October 2015, will get a boost from the technology needed to connect to the major retailers that are members of MCX as well as with non-MCX members. Chase Pay hopes to avoid requiring major technology projects to deploy Chase Pay.
“When we think about ‘fintech,’ we go through a ‘build/buy/partner’ evaluation to decide how we can get to market most efficiently,” Jennifer Roberts, head of Chase Pay, said in a March 10 press release. “MCX has been an important partner, and their technology complements ours, so we’re thrilled to deepen our relationships with the merchant community through the purchase of this technology. This will help us get to market faster.”
The existing partnership between Chase and MCX started shortly after MCX revealed its plans to start testing CurrentC in Columbus, Ohio. Testing took place for nearly a year before MCX pulled the plug on the initiative, which had the goal of reducing credit card fees by setting up an ACH-based wallet and keeping consumer purchasing data in the hands of the retailers.
Chase Pay made its debut in late 2016 with Starbucks and Best Buy, and it has commitments from MCX members like Walmart, Shell, Phillips 66 and others over the next year or longer.
“Consistent with our mission to provide secure, consumer friendly, and cost effective mobile payment solutions to the marketplace, MCX took advantage of this opportunity to have the solution expanded to the broader merchant community,” Brian Mooney, the chief executive of MCX, said in the release.
The acquisition of MCX technology comes three months after Chase plunked down a $10 million investment in LevelUp, a sign of its increasing interest in the Boston company's loyalty program technology.