Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Rite Aid, Giant Eagle bullish about MCX as reach grows

Giant Eagle, Rite-Aid, ExxonMobil and Kum and Go have all joined the list of merchants prepared to roll out a mobile commerce offering with Merchant Customer Exchange, a company that aims to create a universal mobile payment system that can be used by multiple retailers.

MCX announced its plans for the mobile payment system last year, but has yet to launch an actual product. In the meantime it is accruing retailers, with more than 50 merchants already secured.

“At Giant Eagle we are continually looking for opportunities to meet and exceed our customers’ evolving needs,” said Dan Donovan, a spokesperson for Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh.

“As more customers become comfortable with smartphone shopping and payment experiences, it becomes increasingly more important that we determine ways to engage them in this space,” he said. “MCX will allow Giant Eagle to pursue this goal while being able to maintain a direct relationship with our customers.

Pay on mobile
MCX was founded in 2012 to build a mobile payment service that benefits both consumers and merchants. The company is backed by merchants such as Kmart, Olive Garden and Southwest Airlines.

Including the most recent add-ons, MCX has partnered with 50 merchants from big box, convenience, pharmacy, fuel, grocery, quick- and full-service dining, specialty-retail and travel industries.

The merchants collectively span 100,000 locations and process more than $1 trillion in payments annually.

In addition to big name merchants, MCX has also made an effort to reach out to some smaller merchants (see story).

While MCX has been working hard to sign on more merchants, the company has yet to set a launch date. However, by signing up early on, merchants may have the opportunity to take part in designing the actual payment system.

“Like so many other notable merchants who have partnered with MCX, we appreciate the opportunity join at an early stage where we have the ability to influence the end product to ensure that the technology works best for our customers and improves their shopping experience with us,” Mr. Donovan said.

“We are encouraged by the support demonstrated by the many merchants who have committed to MCX to date,” he said. “The likelihood of having the payment option available at so many popular locations across the country will greatly facilitate consumer adoption.”

Rite Aid felt similarly about MCX.

“Rite Aid decided to join this group because we support MCX’s effort to develop a retailer friendly mobile payment application,” said Ashley Flower, senior manager of public relations at Rite Aid, Camp Hill, PA.

“We are committed to offering our customers a superior shopping experience; MCX will help us deliver on this commitment by allowing us to provide a better shopping and payment experience – one that is faster and more convenient – to our customers,” she said.

Mobile payments
New mobile payment services are popping up every day, but MCX is coming from a slightly different angle since it is starting from the merchants as opposed to creating an independent mobile wallet.

Google Wallet, Isis, PayPal, Square and others all created a mobile wallet and then tried to partner with merchants.

Since MCX has yet to actually roll out a product, it is too early to see if their offering will have more success than the other mobile payment services out there.

The company has announced the vendors and technology it will use. Gemalto will power the front-end portion of the app, focusing on the user experience, while FIS will power the back-end portion of the solution.

The mobile payment solution will include a bar code and cloud-based system, per MCX, so NFC will not be part of the picture.

“As credit card companies, search giants, PayPal, handset manufacturers, and thousands of small startups all jockey for position in the mobile payment space, it makes sense that the retailers want their own horse in the race,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston.

“After all, the transactional fees they pay to these various entities are very significant and they have seen Starbucks and others roll their own white label payment apps out,” he said. “The space is red hot, but retailers know consumers do not want 15 retail apps of their phones for 15 different mobile payment experiences.

“If MCX can pool resources and develop a software app and hardware play that transcends the variety of POS systems they employ, they are possibly the best-positioned to crack the mobile in-store payment code, while sidestepping pressure from outside entities, each pitching their own solution.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York