The Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) said it has shelved plans for a nationwide rollout of its mobile payments offering and will focus on working with banks and others to help grow a market that has yet to get real legs.
But Walmart is moving in the other direction, announcing the launch of its Walmart Pay in roughly 600 stores across Texas and Arkansas.
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.
"Utilizing unique feedback from the marketplace and our Columbus pilot, MCX has made a decision to concentrate more heavily in the immediate term on other aspects of our business including working with financial institutions, like our partnership with Chase, to enable and scale mobile payment solutions," MCX CEO Brian Mooney said in prepared remarks. "As part of this transition, MCX will postpone a nationwide rollout of its CurrentC application. As MCX has said many times, the mobile payments space is just beginning to take shape – it is early in a long game. MCX's owner-members remain committed to our future.
"As a result, MCX will need fewer resources," Mooney continued. "This change has resulted in staff reduction of approximately 30 employees. These are very tough decisions, but necessary steps. For those employees leaving us, we want to thank our colleagues for their hard work and dedication to MCX over the last several years."
Meanwhile, Walmart said its customers in Texas and Arkansas will be among the first to use what it calls a "checkout-changing service" at more than 590 stores across the two states. Like CurrentC, Walmart Pay is based on QR codes rather than the tap-and-pay NFC technology used in Apple Pay.
Users launch the app and activate the camera at the register, then scan the code displayed at the point of sale. The retailer delivers a receipt to users through the app. Walmart Pay is supported by any iOS or Android device and can be used at any checkout lane and with any major credit or debit card.
The company said more than 20 million customers use the Walmart app each month to perform tasks such as checking in to a physical location to pick up an online order or refill a prescription. But whether Walmart can convert those customers to mobile payments users is far from clear: While Apple, Samsung and Google are all competing in the space, mobile payments have yet to gain anywhere near mass-market traction in the U.S.
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