Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is asking the Merchant Customer Exchange to explain why Apple Pay and other Near Field Communication-based payment systems were prohibited in some MCX stores shortly after the Apple wallet's 2014 launch.

In a letter to MCX interim CEO Brian Mooney, Blumenthal requested answers by the end of August. MCX's CurrentC wallet is expected to hit some stores this month in preparation for a national rollout.

MCX was founded in 2012 by some of the nation's largest retailers, including Target, Walmart and Best Buy. Its mission was to develop a mobile wallet that could potentially bypass the card networks to lower payment fees while also keeping customer data in the hands of the retailers.

Best Buy ultimately decided to accept Apple Pay in its stores. At the time, the MCX website explained that any new member had to agree to use CurrentC exclusively, but there was no penalty for breaking ties with the group.

Apple Pay adds certain protections to cards that are linked to it, including Touch ID fingerprint authentication and EMV security. The retailers' actions against Apple Pay and other NFC-based mobile wallets prevent consumers "from using more secure payment methods and are required to provide potentially sensitive personal information to these merchants," Blumenthal wrote in his letter to MCX.

"Consumers should not be denied payment options that protect their personal privacy and financial data, and businesses should not act in concert to stifle competition," the Senator added.

In addition to seeking answers to a series of questions about MCX's security, Blumenthal requested details about the reported breach of MCX in October of 2014 in which some customer e-mails may have been compromised.

Blumenthal is a ranking member of the Senate committee on commerce and science, as well as transportation’s subcommittee on consumer protections and data security.

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