The mega-retailers' Merchant Customer Exchange venture argues that the mobile-payment system it is developing will appeal to retailers in a way no other mobile wallet can. That’s leaving some companies divided on which mobile approach is best—MCX's focus on gaining retailer acceptance or the emphasis on consumer adoption championed by Isis and others.

Though MCX is competing with the mobile carriers' Isis venture, which has won over several bank partners, a Citigroup executive spoke in support of MCX. Meanwhile, retail giant Home Depot has so far chosen not to join MCX, despite sharing many of the concerns that the MCX owners raise.

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