Apple Pay Competitor CurrentC Detailed as Convoluted System With Minimal Consumer Benefit

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With recent moves by pharmacy chains CVS and Rite Aid to disable Apple Pay or even NFC payments entirely at their stores, a separate mobile payments initiative backed by these and other major retailers is gaining significant attention. This consortium of merchants, which includes Best Buy, Walmart, Lowe's, and many more, is known as Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) and is developing a mobile payments solution known as CurrentC.

Though it is supported by major retailers attempting to work around the credit card swipe fees charged by banks and card issuers, CurrentC may be hindered by a complicated user interface and security concerns as detailed in a report by TechCrunch.

Unlike Apple Pay, which uses NFC to process payment wirelessly, the CurrentC system uses a dedicated app and relies on QR code scanning to process a consumer's payment. The app stores receipts as well as provide access to loyalty accounts, which can be used to apply discounts at participating retailers.

To use CurrentC, consumers must have an active account that requires them to set up a bank account as a payment source and confirm their identity by providing their driver's license and social security number. This sensitive information is stored in the cloud and not on the phone.
When you sign up for CurrentC, you're supposed to add your bank account. This lets CurrentC process payments for you without retailers having to pay the steep credit card processing fee. You can also add retailers' loyalty credit cards or gift cards as payment methods.
Payments are pulled automatically from the bank account linked to the user's account via Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions, a system adopted as a way to help merchants avoid paying the approximately 2-3 percent fee levied by credit card companies. MCX also provides retailers with consumer intelligence information, allowing them to send targeted ads and discount offers to consumers based on their purchase history.

CurrentC notes it may share info with your device maker, app store, or developer tool makers. Oddly, it will collect health data. Precise location information is used to verify you're at the retailer where you're making a transaction, and if you opt in it can be used for marketing or advertising. CurrentC notes that you can opt in to be able to capture and store photos in the app for a hypothetical visual shopping list or other features down the road.
In 2012, MCX reportedly ramped up its efforts to entice retailers to join its mobile payments system., asking participating merchants for an upfront fee of up to $500,000 and requiring them to sign three-year exclusivity deals. These deals appear to be the reason Rite Aid and CVS disabled unofficial access to Apple Pay in their stores, although it is unclear why they waited until after the service went live and customers were using it before disabling their systems.

CurrentC is currently in beta testing and on target for a 2015 launch, which positions it behind Apple's already existing Apple Pay system. It is reportedly being pilot tested in Minnesota at select retailers before rolling out nationwide next year. Because the payments do not require NFC or Bluetooth LE, the system will be compatible with a variety of Android and older model iPhones.

Adoption may be slow as retailers must modify their point of sales systems to accept these payments. Consumers may also balk at a system that requires the cloud storage of sensitive information and a cumbersome checkout process that relies on QR codes accessed through a separate app and tied to direct bank withdrawals. To compensate for these detractors, MCX reportedly will push retailer discounts and loyalty purchases to entice consumers to adopt this upcoming mobile payments system.

Article Link: Apple Pay Competitor CurrentC Detailed as Convoluted System With Minimal Consumer Benefit
 

penajmz

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Sep 11, 2008
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This antiquated technology will be dead on arrival.


You want people's drivers license, social security number and bank account number?

Lol.
 

BeyondtheTech

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Jun 20, 2007
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Wow, $500K up-front fee and a three-year lockdown? That's forever in technology terms (like a two-year contract on a smartphone), and anything can change in a heartbeat (read: Apple Pay). If I was a retailer, I would've dealt with the rolling transaction fees. Looks like a bunch of retailers each wasted half a mil, and CurrentC will be dead on arrival, but not without giving their execs a bunch of golden parachutes on the way down. Typical corporate mentality.
 

drewyboy

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Jan 27, 2005
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How is this any easier then paying with cash or card? What an awful idea.
Exactly. At least from the information I've seen there is ZERO benefit for the consumer. It only benefits the retailer. Also collecting health data WTF?
 

Derekeys

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Sep 17, 2012
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Why is everyone complaining?

I can't wait to get ads about erectile dysfunction on my Facebook page after having bought shampoo at CVS using a QR code scanner.

:rolleyes:
 

unobtainium

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Mar 27, 2011
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How is this any easier then paying with cash or card? What an awful idea.
It's not. It just saves the retailers 2% on transaction fees. They forgot to provide any incentive for customers to use it. Actually, by storing sensitive info in the cloud, they've provided a disincentive.
 

jclardy

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Oct 6, 2008
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So...in short:

Apple Pay:
1. Hold phone to reader
2. Scan fingerprint

CurrentC:
1. Unlock phone
2. Find CurrentC app
3. Launch CurrentC app
4. Hope you have adequate signal in concrete walls of the store
5. Hold phone up to scanner

Also CurrentC is essentially a debit transaction. So no rewards, reduced fraud protection and increased likelihood of getting actual cash stolen from your bank account (Compared to a credit card being stored locally with Apple Pay.)
 

Nunyabinez

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Apr 27, 2010
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Providing a vendor with a credit card number for them to store is one thing. My bank account information is a whole different level of scary. They are moving the opposite direction of what I want so that they can make more money. No Thank You.
 

Statusnone88

macrumors 68000
Jun 19, 2010
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Never. Gonna. Happen. I'll NEVER shop at one of these stores again or use their stupid app garbage if this is how it's going to go down.
 

mmomega

macrumors 68040
Dec 30, 2009
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F a CurrentC and ACH.
They are 100% out of their minds if they believe I'm going to be using this ever.
 

SusanK

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Oct 9, 2012
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They lost me at direct access to my bank account. I'm not a Walmart shopper anyway. Junk shopping is not my thing.
 
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milo

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So this can't use a credit card and requires giving out a bank account number for direct withdrawals? I can't imagine how this could possibly catch on.

I know stores hate credit cards, but consumers are unwilling to stop using them. I'm willing to shop at places that don't take credit cards but for the most part they are local ma and pa places and for them I'm happy to help them avoid the extra charge. Heck, I have local places that take cards but have a sign that they prefer cash, and I'll use the cash whenever I have it on me.
 

gibbz

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May 31, 2007
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So a tech solution dreamed up by a consortium of non-tech companies is awful. Who would have guessed?
 

Nunyabinez

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So...in short:

Apple Pay:
1. Hold phone to reader
2. Scan fingerprint

CurrentC:
1. Unlock phone
2. Find CurrentC app
3. Launch CurrentC app
4. Hope you have adequate signal in concrete walls of the store
5. Hold phone up to scanner

Also CurrentC is essentially a debit transaction. So no rewards, reduced fraud protection and increased likelihood of getting actual cash stolen from your bank account (Compared to a credit card being stored locally with Apple Pay.)
Credit card is not even stored locally with Apple Pay.
 

Dekema2

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Jul 27, 2012
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No thanks. I'm concerned about my privacy. All kinds of sensitive info from this is being "stored in the cloud." Then they want my SSN!
 
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Dimwhit

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Apr 10, 2007
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There's just no way this catches on. I know I get reward points from my credit card, so if it won't let me use a credit card, it's a no go. But it also sounds like a terrible implementation.
 

N2PVP

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May 8, 2010
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No Way!

No just no way I would go thru all this just to pay for something! :mad:
 

dotme

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Oct 18, 2011
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To use CurrentC, consumers must have an active account that requires them to set up a bank account as a payment source and confirm their identity by providing their driver's license and social security number. This sensitive information is stored in the cloud and not on the phone.
This is DOA. How long before the "member stores" realize that I wonder?
 

linuxcooldude

macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2010
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So...in short:

Apple Pay:
1. Hold phone to reader
2. Scan fingerprint

CurrentC:
1. Unlock phone
2. Find CurrentC app
3. Launch CurrentC app
4. Hope you have adequate signal in concrete walls of the store
5. Hold phone up to scanner


Also CurrentC is essentially a debit transaction. So no rewards, reduced fraud protection and increased likelihood of getting actual cash stolen from your bank account (Compared to a credit card being stored locally with Apple Pay.)
6. Hold phone back up to scanner so retailer can scan your QR code