Chase Bank Takes on Apple Pay with CurrentC

JPMorgan Chase has its answer to Apple Pay: use CurrentC, but rebrand it as Chase Pay. Instead of supporting a mobile payment system that relies on NFC, Chase decided to go with the boondoggle that's backed by Walmart.

Chase hops on board with MCX's CurrentCChase hops on board with MCX's CurrentC

CurrentC relies on apps customers must download to their smartphones, and on-screen barcodes retailers must scan to process transactions. The system ties directly to user's bank accounts, and Chase said it will auto-enroll all 94 million of the cards it has issued.

It's interesting that Chase would choose to partner with CurrentC because the platform was launched as a way for retailers to avoid paying credit card transaction fees to banks. CurrentC's founding members have been so hostile towards credit card fees that former Walmart CEO Lee Scott told reporters when asked if he thought the platform could succeed, "I don't know that it will, and I don't care. As long as Visa suffers."

CurrentC was announced in 2012, but still hasn't launched. Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), the company behind the platform, had hoped for a 2015 rollout but now is shooting for some time in 2016. In contrast, Apple Pay has been available for a year and will have an even larger head start when CurrentC eventually does make it to retailer's check out counters.

Apple Pay isn't the only competition Chase and CurrentC are facing. Google Wallet—now Android Pay—is the Android OS equivalent of Apple Pay, and is equally convenient because it relies on NFC wireless transaction technology as well.

CurrentC is also dealing with the loss of some of its partner members. Best Buy already announced its support for Apple Pay and Target plans to offer in-store Apple Pay support, as well. Rite Aid now supports Apple Pay and Android Pay, too.

For Chase, the deal is an opportunity to be part of more retail transactions. The real winner, however, is MCX because it gets an endorsement from Chase along with millions of auto-registered accounts.

When CurrentC does launch, Chase and MCX need to find a way top convince shoppers to install their app and actually use them in stores. That's going to be some trick considering Apple Pay and Android Pay don't require special downloads and use NFC. Good luck with that, Chase.