MCX, the Walmart (NYSE:WMT)-centered mobile wallet initiative, confirmed on Thursday (July 18) that its new CEO will be Dekkers Davidson, who served as the managing director at Barclaycard US until March.
MCX, which counts among its Walmart-watching members Target (NYSE:TGT) , 7-Eleven and Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), has yet to announce when it will launch its wallet offering, which will be using either QR codes or a similar barcode approach. On Thursday a spokesperson for the group said that its software had yet to be developed so it can't even begin beta-testing.
It's unclear how much that will be accelerated by having an official CEO onboard, but having one person officially responsible for the launch can't hurt.
In the statement announcing Davidson's appointment, MCX stressed that Davidson has experience with one earlier mobile-wallet-like payment effort. "At Barclaycard, he launched the first cloud-based mobile commerce wallet in the U.S., specifically designed to be merchant friendly, creating deals and partnerships with more than 50 retailers, along with card issuers, processors, and technology partners."
But no mobile wallet—Barclaycard's, Google Wallet, PayPal, ISIS, etc.—has been able to capture the enthusiasm of shoppers. There are many reasons for that, but the biggest one is simply the lack of a concrete reason for consumers to change their payment behavior. At best, the mobile wallets do a fine job of matching the functionality of magstripe cards, but they haven't been able to better it. It's fast, but not faster than pulling out a plastic card and swiping. They have a loyalty program, but so do most of the retailers involved in MCX.
It's a huge hurdle to get consumers to change their behavior and it has to happen gradually. Starbucks has made progress, but that's mostly because it spent years convincing its customers to use the Starbucks card and that made the transition to a mobile Starbucks card a lot more gradual.
Also, MCX has been demanding agreements of exclusivity. Indeed, participating organizations have stressed the need for the member chains to accept a single form of payment. If that happens, that will truly force shoppers to undergo an even more dramatic change in behavior. If they want to make the CEO's job more challenging, they couldn't pick a better way.
- See MCX news release