Apple Pay vs. CurrentC: the race is on

Apple Pay debuted this week to much fanfare, but it's not the only mobile payment platform in town. Competitor CurrentC is collecting retail partners and positioning itself as a formidable competitor, thanks in large part to its biggest partner: Walmart.

Apple Pay works with NFC POS terminals and now allows shoppers to pay with Apple Pay at retailers including Macy's (NYSE:M), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Target (NYSE:TGT), Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) and Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM).

It promises to simplify transactions but has has limitations. For now, it works only with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Users of those phones simply tap to pay with the NFC chip inside the new devices. The Apple Watch, scheduled for release later this year, will also function as a mobile wallet, and new iPads will have some Pay functionality, but owners of older-model iPhones are out of luck.

Apple Pay still requires retailers to pay swipe fees, but the story is quite different for CurrentC. CurrentC works with all phones, not just the newest model iPhones, making it available to a much bigger audience. The app works with QR codes recognized by most existing checkout scanners and lets shoppers use coupons and other digital offers.

And there are no swipe fees, because CurrentC is not linked to credit cards but works like a debit card and is linked to shopper's bank accounts. For those wondering how big an audience that is, some estimates put the number of U.S. shoppers without bank accounts—let alone credit cards—at nearly 25 percent of the population. Additionally, a growing number of U.S. shoppers are turning to cash as concerns over security and fraud increases with each new retail-based data breach.

Walmart, Target and CVS are backing CurrentC. Target is also on board with Apple Pay, proving the retailer isn't taking any side other than its own in an attempt to win back shoppers' trust following its data breach last year.

Regardless of the platform, retailer backing means mobile payments may finally take off.

For more:
- See this Yahoo Finance story
- See this TechCrunch story
- See this Forbes blog post

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