Poising your new, still unproven, product as a rival of an existing popular one is a sure way to get noticed, one way or another. But it also sets up expectations that you not be able to meet, ending up with more than just egg on your face. That is pretty much what is happening now to CurrentC, the Merchant Customer Exchange’s (or MCX) supposed Apple Pay/Android Pay rival. On its web page, CurrentC testers are not only informed that the beta test ends on June 28, but also that all accounts will be disabled.
This development isn’t exactly surprising, given how much CurrentC has been delayed and how MCX laid off 30 employees working on the mobile payment system. Starting off with the wrong foot and taking years to fulfill a promise is a sure way to fail.
Part of CurrentC’s problem is its exclusivity. The platform was developed by the MCX consortium as a way to keep Apple and others like it from creating a monopoly in the mobile payment industry. CurrentC also sought to do away with as much middlemen as it can, giving member merchants majority, if not full, control and profits. However, MCX members who signed up for CurrentC were prohibited from using other payment systems for a certain period. That left those members, including Walmart, Best Buy, CVS, and Rite Aid, out in the cold while CurrentC took its sweet time to develop.
But the retail business is a vicious one and doesn’t treat kindly those who wait. After numerous setbacks, CurrentC’s supporters fell one by one. Best Buy would eventually support other mobile payment systems in its stores. The biggest wound, however, was inflicted by Walmart, MCX’s biggest member. Now Walmart is off developing its own Apple Pay rival, ditching CurrentC in the process.
Technically speaking, MCX hasn’t completely shutdown CurrentC and could revive it someday in the future should the conditions become more favorable. For now, however, it is practically dead, with MCX moving on to focus on improving relationships with banks in the meantime.