Slideshow In Pictures: CurrentC's Bumpy Ride

  • May 01 2015, 10:21am EDT
11 Images Total

The Merchant Customer Exchange, backed by Walmart, Target and other mega-retailers, now operates in a market where Apple changed the ground rules. Though the initiative has yet to formally launch its CurrentC mobile wallet, MCX has already been forced to adapt many times. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Original Vision

When it formed in 2012, the group's original mission was to keep retailers in control of consumer data and relationships. It also aimed to lower the cost of accepting payments by asking consumers to link their bank accounts rather than fund all purchases through cards. (Images: Bloomberg News, Wawa)

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Exclusive Relationship

Early on, MCX asked its partners to stay exclusive to its technology. Over time, this requirement proved unviable. (Image: iStock)

'Rock Star' CEO

MCX scored a significant win with the 2013 hiring of Dekkers Davidson as CEO. Davdison, a former Barclaycard US exec, was described by observers as a "rock star" of the mobile payments world. (Image: iStock)

Building a Brand

In September 2014, just weeks before Apple revealed Apple Pay to the world, MCX chose a name for its mobile wallet: CurrentC. The branding and logo were finally in place, but the actual wallet was still not ready for launch. (Image: Bloomberg News)

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War on Apple

MCX merchants' loyalties were put to the test when Apple Pay came to market. CVS and Rite Aid sided with MCX by taking the heavy-handed approach of blocking all Near Field Communication payments. The silver lining of this move was it brought mainstream media attention to MCX and CurrentC. (Image: Bloomberg News)

PayPal Plucks Paydiant

In March, PayPal entered an agreement to buy Paydiant, one of the technology providers MCX relied upon for the development of its own mobile wallet. This move put one of MCX's key partners in the house of one of its key rivals. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Best Buy's Big Move

Best Buy decided back in 2011 that it didn't care for NFC payments, and its later allegiance to MCX further affirmed this strategy. But following the launch of Apple Pay, the mega-retailer had a change of heart, and now expects to accept Apple Pay NFC payments in its stores by the fall of 2015. However, Best Buy still remains an MCX participant. (Image: Bloomberg News)

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Davidson Departs

A day after the Best Buy move came to light, MCX announced that CEO Dekkers Davidson left the organization. (Image: iStock)

Next Step

It is very likely that other MCX retailers will follow Best Buy's example and sign on with Apple Pay, but that doesn't spell doom for MCX. The merchant group may not be able to overthrow Apple Pay when it finally launches the CurrentC wallet, but it could still forge ahead with technology that emphasizes loyalty and rewards — which are conspicuously absent from the current version of Apple's offering. (Image: iStock)

A Crowded Market

But more competitors are on the horizon for MCX, Apple and Google Wallet. Nacha is developing an open standard for bank and credit union mobile wallets, and American Express' new Plenti platform echoes MCX's approach with a narrower focus on loyalty. (Image: iStock)