CurrentC Races to Irrelevance, May not Launch Until 2016

CurrentC is another step closer to securing its place as the big non-starter in the mobile payment field now that parent company MCX CEO Brian Mooney has said its 2015 launch may slip into 2016. Meanwhile, Apple Pay and other NFC-based mobile payment options are already available and drawing in more users.

CurrentC is doomed to irrelevancy before it even launchesCurrentC is doomed to irrelevancy before it even launches

Mr. Mooney told Re/code that CurrentC will be launching a public test in Columbus, Ohio in the coming weeks to evaluate whether or not it's ready for a wider rollout. If not, the planned 2015 launch could be delayed until some time in 2016.

Speaking on the launch plans, Mr. Mooney said, "Certainly going faster is always better — that's not necessarily a debatable point. But we're going to do it right."

CurrentC is a mobile payment system that uses apps and QR codes instead of NFC, like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. The system also ties directly into customer's bank accounts instead of using credit card numbers. That isn't sitting well with tech savvy consumers because the idea of companies like WalMart getting direct access to our bank accounts doesn't sound like a good idea, and the transaction process is far too clunky.

The purpose of CurrentC isn't to give consumers more choices at the checkout stand; it's to give retailers a way to sidestep credit card companies and transaction fees. The companies that signed on came with their own agendas, although there is an underlying theme: CurrentC isn't here to help consumers, it's here to screw credit card companies.

So far, CurrentC has been little more than hype and promises. The service hasn't launched and now looks like it's going to be delayed. Retailers who were bound by exclusivity clauses in their contracts and adding Apple Pay support at cash registers—Best Buy, Target and Rite Aid, for example, are embracing Apple Pay—and consumers aren't interested in mobile payment services that add steps instead of removing them.

CurrentC is still a no show while industry standard NFC-based payment systems are already gaining more use thanks to the popularity of Apple Pay, and if it every really is available it'll require users to download an app to their smartphone. In contrast, Apple Pay comes preinstalled on compatible iPhones and Apple Watch, plus Google Wallet and soon Android Pay will be bundled with Android-based smartphones.

Pre-installed options have a big advantage over downloading apps because they're already there. The path of least resistance always has a big advantage.

Putting all those pieces together creates a dismal scene for CurrentC. Not only is it unavailable, but it's also running at full steam into irrelevance.

Mr. Mooney says MCX and CurrentC are playing the long game, but he doesn't realize there isn't anyone in the stadium to watch. Consumers already jumped on NFC and they aren't looking back.