MCX, the payments-centric consortium of retailers led by Wal-Mart to develop a mobile app to rival Apple Pay, announced Monday layoffs of 30 people and another delay in the rollout of its app, CurrentC, according to TechCrunch.
Members of the consortium, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, CVS, Gap, and Target, initially turned off their Near Field Communications systems to deny customers the option of using Apple Pay, but slowly turned them back on when it became clear that QR Code-based CurrentC wasn’t nearly ready (and perhaps that denying customers a payment option wasn’t good business).
Wal-Mart itself has developed its own payment app, and Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay are all slowly but steadily gaining traction among consumers.
Essentially, MCX’s CurrentC was contaminated with retailer priorities from the start, including avoiding long-loathed credit card fees, that interfered with customer-facing ones. Plus, for whatever reason, CurrentC wasn't ready when MCX said it said it would be, even after several delays. It didn’t help that the app suffered a hack in 2014 during one pilot phase.
That has left plenty of room for Apple Pay and Google Wallet, which have been slowly accruing users for months, and newest entrant Samsung Pay, to dominate and define the space.The company now says that it will continue with bank partnerships, TechCrunch reports.
“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 a statement, as reported by TechCrunch. “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.”
Whiles Mooney says that payments in general is a “long game,” it remains to be seen whether CurrentC will ever really be in it.