Dekkers Davidson, CEO of the Merchant Customer Exchange, wants to create the same type of disruption in mobile payments as Uber did in the taxi world.
MCX, the retailer-led group developing the CurrentC mobile wallet, was created because "merchants want a way to more directly engage with consumers and to rebalance the payments system," said Davidson during a panel discussion at The Clearing House's annual conference last week in New York City.
"The Uber experience is the most inspirational to me," said Davidson. Uber, he said, demonstrated that if the consumer value proposition is positive enough, a company can overwhelm the regulatory environment.
Regulators are currently trying to figure out how to categorize the disruptive car service. Yellow taxi cab drivers must purchase medallions for hundreds of thousands of dollars before they're allowed to start driving passengers, but Uber allows consumers to hail black cars through a mobile app in a type of ride-sharing program.
These new internet-based community marketplace businesses, like Uber and Airbnb, are difficult to categorize within existing regulatory frameworks. The boundaries will also begin to blur in payments, especially person-to-person, Davidson said.
MCX began supporting its CurrentC wallet with four retailers in September. Several more retailers will announce their participation before Christmas and 10 plus merchants will start participating in the first quarter of next year, he said.
CurrentC will be distributed through merchant apps at first, and will eventually develop an all-purpose app. The company would also like to partner with banks to allow them to integrate CurrentC into their mobile apps.
In October, Apple launched its Near Field Communication-based mobile wallet, and some MCX retailers began taking sides by disabling NFC readers in their stores (MCX currently uses QR codes). This stance stemmed from merchants' agreement to work with MCX exclusively, though merchants can also choose to drop MCX without penalty.
Though the media has dubbed this a "wallet war," Davidson said "We're not even close to a war. Apple Pay is great for MCX. Who better to educate customers?"