MCX will not fine merchants for breaking exclusivity

The launch of Apple Pay has turned up the heat on the fledgling Merchant Customer Exchange's (MCX) mobile payment platform CurrentC.

The Walmart-led consortium of retailers developed CurrentC in an effort to launch a viable mobile wallet, and CurrentC has the added benefit of bypassing credit-card swipe fees.

But this was before Apple Pay. The NFC-based mobile payment launched Oct. 27 and was in the center of the media spotlight aimed at Apple. So when CVS and Rite Aid disabled the Apple Pay function on POS terminals, that, too, was in the spotlight.

CVS and Rite Aid are members of the MCX and the group was demanding a fee to join and a commitment to exclusively using CurrentC.

"Although charter members were asked to kick in $1 million to join, retailers are being asked to give $500,000 or $250,000," FierceRetailIT reported in January 2013. "Chains are also being asked to commit to three-year mobile payment app exclusivity, meaning they won't support any non-MCX mobile payment other than any mobile payment app they have already deployed. (There's a one-year grace period from the start of membership—where retailers can get out of the deal—and that period is about to expire for most of the initial backers.)"

It's this exclusivity and fear of fines that presumably caused the two drug chains to stop taking Apple Pay.

MCX has since clarified its position.

CEO Dekkers Davidson said in a press conference that retailers were free to leave the group at any time. Retailers are not paying a fee to be a part of the consortium, nor do they face fines should they accept another form of mobile payment.

Davidson also addressed issues of security. A list containing the email addresses of people participating in the small-scale test of CurrentC in Minneapolis was compromised and some information stolen.

There was an "unauthorized disclosure of emails," including many dummy accounts, said Davidson. "The app was not affected. We own this and are taking this seriously. We are addressing it with our partners."

For more:
-See this FierceRetail story
-See this FierceRetailIT story
-See this TechCrunch story

Related stories:
CurrentC gives more retailers mobile wallet prospects
Apple Pay vs. CurrentC: the race is on
Walmart says no to Apple Pay
Apple Pay is here
Apple puts NFC security front and center