The mobile payment platform CurrentC is all but dead. MCX is shutting down its beta trials, turning off user accounts, and keeping mum on whether or not it'll bring back the service at some point in the future. CurrentC is, for all practical purposes dead, but MCX can't bring itself to use that word.
It's dead, Jim: CurrentC dies before it ever launched
Word of CurrentC's ultimate demise doesn't come as any surprise. The service launch has been delayed again and again—most recently in May—and retailer partners have been defecting to Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Walmart, one of CurrentC's keystone partners, walked away and launched its own competing mobile payment platform.
CurrentC was concocted by a consortium of retailers wanting to cut out credit card companies from transactions and collect even more data about their shoppers. The mobile payment system was designed with retailers needs in mind instead of consumers, which was the wrong way to approach the platform—something MCX may finally be learning.
Instead of using credit cards, CurrentC linked directly to customer's bank accounts, which raised concerns over shoppers being responsible for the cost of fraudulent transactions. Security was also an issue, especially after CurrentC was hacked.
It's only dead-ish
MCX isn't officially saying CurrentC is dead, although the website FAQ uses business-speak that says essentially that: "We have not yet determined the future timing of CurrentC but we will keep you posted."
CurrentC also used a clunky transaction process. Instead of NFC, like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, shoppers needed to install an app they would open ahead of paying, then display a special barcode to complete the transaction. Considering how slow U.S. consumers have been to get onboard with contactless payments, the added steps needed with CurrentC posed a major hurdle for adoption.
There's still a slim chance CurrentC could live on in another form. Chase Bank signed a deal with MCX to use CurrentC technology for its own mobile payment system earlier this year. Assuming Chase moves forward with that, at least some of what CurrentC work could show up in Chase Pay when it launches.
For the retailers who were holding out for CurrentC's launch, that's not much of a consolation. Maybe MCX needs a visit from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross to work through its grief and come to terms with the death of CurrentC.