The Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a mobile wallet initiative led by merchants including Walmart and Target, is testing its technology under the brand CurrentC with plans for a full rollout next year.

CurrentC is in private pilot in certain locations across the country, MCX said Sept. 3, less than a week ahead of Apple's expected reveal of its own mobile wallet.

"At full scale, CurrentC will be accepted in more than 110,000 merchant locations across the country, giving consumers unmatched access to their favorite retailers," said Dekkers Davidson, CEO of MCX, in the release. (MCX declined to make an executive available for an interview).

Consumers will be able to access the mobile wallet's features through the CurrentC iOS and Android app as well as through merchant-branded apps that use the network. The apps will allow consumers to store and use a number of payment methods, including personal checking accounts, merchant-branded credit and debit products and gift cards. New methods will be added in the coming months.

The CurrentC name was likely chosen to emphasize MCX's support for lower-cost payment methods such as ACH transfers from bank accounts, said Mary Monahan, head of mobile at Javelin Strategy & Research.

The timing of MCX's announcement is likely meant to remind merchants of its software-based approach to mobile payments, which is in contrast to Apple's expected use of Near Field Communication, Monahan said.

"Apple will need merchant cooperation to use NFC," she said. "MCX is just reminding everyone that you have to get these merchants at the table: Walmart, CVS, Target."

The announcement comes shortly after reports that Apple would be teaming up with Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and American Express Co. on a mobile wallet to launch with the new iPhone on September 9.

CurrentC's cloud-based payment system uses tokenization to pass consumer information to the merchant, which has been a popular method for securing data from breaches and attacks. CurrentC will work with most existing point of sale systems and will not require extra hardware; MCX has previously indicated that it will support QR codes for software-based payments.

CurrentC will automatically apply coupons, offers, loyalty points and rewards to the purchase when a payment is made. These promotions are also automatically earned during transactions. 

"The CurrentC Network will provide merchants with unparalleled reach and resources in the mobile payments category," Davidson said. "It will offer merchants new and exciting channels to engage with customers, strengthen relationships, and enjoy more control of transaction data."

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