As the Merchant Customer Exchange asserts its position in the mobile wallet market, it emphasizes that the path to a consumer’s physical wallet runs through retailers.

“Part of the power that merchants bring is that customers are trusting them with their business,” said Dodd Roberts, an executive at Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), during a panel discussion at SourceMedia’s 25th annual Card Forum and Expo.  

MCX is a merchant-led mobile payments initiative that includes Wal-Mart Stores, Dunkin’ Brands and Lowe’s. MCX is developing a single mobile wallet that can be used at more than 75,000 merchant locations.

"There's strength in numbers," Dodd said.

Those numbers can also include financial institutions as potential partners.

“We’re not in the payments business,” Dodd said. MCX isn’t trying to take customers from the banks but instead create a mobile wallet app that allows a smoother customer shopping experience, he said.

The group chose to support bar codes for payments not only because it’s the most used method today but also because pushing multiple technologies on merchants and consumers at one time can cause frustration, he says. Other wallets use Near Field Communication or cloud-based systems.

“Having so many technologies out there, it’s a real challenge to take everything that’s happening with the physical-card world and then to add mobile,” Dodd said. Merchants “can only swallow one at a time.”

Besides MCX, other companies talked up the power of partnerships to build out payments initiatives.

Discover’s relationship with PayPal should be advantageous to both parties, said Joe Hurley, senior vice president of global business development at Discover Financial Services, in an interview.

Discover will help PayPal’s transition to the point of sale. PayPal is a good partner because it already has such a large user base, and adding new points of acceptance will likely increase consumer adoption, Hurley says. 

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