I’m not normally one for over the top headlines, but this is a question that several of us Techaeris writers were kicking around yesterday during the WWDC keynote address. What sparked the discussion was a slide that Apple flashed up on the screen, listing several partners in their Apple Pay mobile payments system.
A few caught my eye – names that had been previously linked to CurrentC. Best Buy is one that we had already heard about coming on board with Apple Pay. A visit to the website of the Merchant Customer Exchange (CurrentC) still lists Best Buy as one of their partner retailers. What makes that interesting is that it’s been no secret that CurrentC members were contractually prohibited from accepting competing mobile payments – even leading to several retailers shutting down wireless payments completely.
Back in August, then-CEO of MCX, Dekkers Davidson said that the exclusivity period would be months, not years. Now we are seeing several retailers currently listed on MCX’s website announcing support for Apple Pay. This could be signalling the end of the exclusivity period.
Some of the big CurrentC names shown in Apple’s slide included Meijer, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Kohl’s. The bigger part of the Dunkin’ Donuts announcement was that it would be accepting Apple Pay in conjunction with it’s DD Perks rewards program. Being able to use Apple Pay and still earn your rewards points in one tap will be huge.
Which brings us back around to the original question – is the MCX/CurrentC consortium slowly falling apart? Not at this point; however, with all the negative press CurrentC has received, and with the announcement that there will be no fees for card issuers using Android Pay, it will be interesting to see if retailers are willing to stick it out with CurrentC. Even if some do, it seems that the big names are leaving. Will the smaller retailers be enough to carry the cost of keeping CurrentC alive?
The fact of the matter is, mobile payments are heading in the direction of tap-and-pay, not scanning a barcode. The smart retailers will be the ones who can see the writing on the wall, and get on the wagon before the wagon runs them over.
What do you think? Would you still use CurrentC even if Apple Pay and Android Pay were both available?