The 411 On MCX And Mobile Payments

A little more than a year after mobile industry exec Dekkers Davidson took the reins as CEO, The Merchant Customer Exchange (aka MCX) gave us all a little peek into its mobile payments strategy Wednesday (Sept. 3).

The MCX new mobile payments network, branded CurrentC™, will mash up loyalty with payments and be available at the more than 110,000 merchant locations that are a part of the MCX network when fully deployed. MCX merchants drive $1 trillion of annual spend across a wide variety of merchant segments. Marquis merchants include Walmart, BestBuy, Gap, Dunkin’ Donuts, Kohls, Target, Dillards, Lowes and 7 Eleven.


Here are the 5 key things you need to know about CurrentC:

1. The payments experience comes in the form of an app, available for both Apple and Android phones. But here’s something new. Its news release said that CurrentC functionality is also available as part of a merchant’s existing mobile app. So CurrentC is offering itself up as a white label approach that can be embedded inside of existing merchant apps. Interesting way to scale.

2. Davidson said that CurrentC™ will offer consumers an easy way to pay and choice of payments options. To start, that will include personal checking accounts, merchant gift cards and “selected” merchant branded credit and debit products. Here’s another something new. Other forms of payment, Davidson said, will follow in the coming months. Since he’s previously made reference to MCX’s intention to work with others to “issue” MCX accounts, this will be a space to watch.

3. The checkout experience requires no new investment on the part of “most” merchants and is said to utilize a secure paycode to enable the transaction, quickly and securely.

4. And in a very subtle smackdown to that “other” mobile payments offering about to be unveiled four days from now, the news release positions CurrentC as a more secure mobile payments option. Why you might ask? MCX says that since CurrentC does not store credentials locally on the mobile device, it offers a more secure experience. (Wonder what that might be a comparison to.) CurrentC will tokenize and then store cardholder information in the cloud.

5. The CurrentC app sounds like it will also have functionality behave like that “other” mobile payments offering, too. It is said to offer an easy and automatic way to aggregate and store coupons, offers and loyalty cards, and have the relevant offers and promotions automatically applied to the consumer’s purchase at checkout.

Here’s what we still don’t know about CurrentC:

1. CurrentC said it will expand its private pilot thru 2014 and have regional and national rollouts in 2015. We don’t know who, what and where.

2. Rewards are described as a key part of the consumer value proposition. What we still don’t know is whether MCX will offer a network wide rewards program and, if it does, how the data to support such a program is organized and managed. Keep in mind that one of the key merchant advantages of the MCX mobile network is the ability of the merchant to control its own data.

3. We also don’t really know what “the” payment offering is. Davidson has made it clear previously that MCX will be a network and not an interoperable network of branded store cards. It appears at launch that consumers will have options to choose from, it just isn’t clear whether the “personal checking account” option referred to in the release is an MCX-branded decoupled debit product of some kind or something else entirely.

4. We also have no real peek into how MCX will make money and support the operation of its network. The other great appeal of MCX is reduced cost of acceptance. But since operating a network costs something, presumably participating merchants will have to pay something into the MCX kitty. We just don’t know those details.

Davidson said: “The CurrentC Network will provide merchants with unparalleled reach and resources in the mobile payments category and will offer merchants new and exciting channels to engage with customers, strengthen relationships, and enjoy more control of transaction data.”

September just got a whole lot more interesting, don’t ya think?