MCX ends CurrentC test, fate of mobile payments service 'not yet determined'

The Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) said it is ending its test of its CurrentC mobile payments product, and it's unclear what MCX's next steps will be.

"We will be concluding our Beta on June 28, 2016. Please stay tuned for new information on CurrentC as our future plans evolve," MCX said on its website. "We want to say a special thank you to everyone who participated in our CurrentC Beta test in Columbus, OH!"

Added MCX: "We have not yet determined the future timing of CurrentC but we will keep you posted."

MCX was created in 2012 by retailers including Walmart, Best Buy and Target, and had hoped to launch a mobile wallet, loyalty and coupon platform under the CurrentC brand last year at more than 100,000 locations. But the effort never grew beyond a pilot program in Columbus, Ohio, and Walmart's decision to offer its own mobile payments program was a major blow for the consortium.

Indeed, last month MCX said it had discontinued plans for a nationwide rollout of its mobile payments offering and would instead focus on working with banks and others to help grow the market. At the same time, Walmart announced the launch of its Walmart Pay in roughly 600 stores across Texas and Arkansas. Walmart's service uses what it calls a "checkout-changing service." Like CurrentC, Walmart Pay is based on QR codes rather than the tap-and-pay NFC technology used in Apple Pay.

CurrentC appears to be the latest fatality in the once-blossoming mobile payments market. The other major failure in the space is Softcard, previously called Isis, that was the mobile payments joint venture backed by Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS). Google acquired Softcard last year and has since integrated the technology into Android Pay.

Other options that remain on the market include Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal and others. It's no surprise that a variety of companies are targeting the intersection of mobile phones and money: According to eMarketer, payments in the United States made with a smartphone at the point of sale in place of a credit card or cash totaled $3.5 billion in 2014. The firm said that figure ought to grow to $27.5 billion in 2016 and fully $118.01 billion in 2018.

For more:
- see this PhoneScoop article
- see this MCX site

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