Apple Pay offers a quick, easy and secure way for users to pay for things with their smartphones (and, eventually, the Apple Watch). While it may seem a perfect option for everyone, obviously that’s not going to be the case.
Over the course of the last few days, reports of Rite Aid and CVS shutting down support for Apple Pay swirled, before ultimately being confirmed. While both establishments have indeed supported contactless payments, or mobile payments, for quite some time, the recent blocking of Apple Pay has suggested both establishments are simply gearing up for a major competitor to enter the fray from the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) called CurrentC. Now, in a new report published by TechCrunch, CurrentC gets outlined and showcases how the mobile payments system will work in stores like Rite Aid, CVS, Best Buy and Walmart.
CurrentC is a stark difference when compared to Apple Pay right out of the gate, including the way that transactions are processed. Unlike Apple Pay’s secure NFC-based wireless payments, CurrentC systems use a dedicated application and relies solely on QR codes that the user needs to scan, which is then used to process the payment. The application itself stores separate receipts for purchases. The app can also be used for loyalty accounts, which can then be used to utilize discount at some establishments.
The first thing a user will need to do is set up an account to use with CurrentC. That means linking a bank account directly into the app, and then confirming your identity by providing not only a driver’s license number, but also the social security number. This information is not stored on the phone, though, but in the cloud. By adding your bank account and not your credit card, this allows for these retailers to avoid the credit card transaction fees they are hit with every time someone uses their card to pay for something. This, by default, is essentially the sole reason this MCX — and CurrentC — seem to exist. To avoid these fees, which companies like Walmart have been vocal in its disdain for the system in place.
When a purchase is placed using CurrentC, the transaction is placed using Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions, once again a method for the retailers to avoid the credit card fees. Targeted ads to the user will also be employed through the application, as MCX will provide retailers with consumer intelligence information. These ads will be based on your 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“
MCX reportedly began aggressively seeking out retailers for its mobile payments system in 2012. Part of that effort came from MCX requesting $500,000 in up-front fees, and that retailers signed a three-year exclusivity agreement. This could be the reason why Rite Aid and CVS deactivated their own support for Apple Pay, but does not shed any light on why these retailers would shut down their support after Apple Pay launched, and customers were already using it.
CurrentC is currently in a beta test in Minnesota, and it’s expected to launch to the public sometime in 2015. With its technology not being tied down to NFC or Bluetooth LE, CurrentC will work with a wide variety of mobile devices, including older iPhones.
Have you tried out Apple Pay? Do you think CurrentC is a better option?