After an undeniably bad two weeks of press, MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson seems to have changed the company’s tune on CurrentC’s exclusivity policy that prompted retailers like CVS and Rite Aid to disable NFC terminals and block Apple’s iPhone 6-backed mobile payment system Apple Pay. Davidson told Re/code in an interview that MCX, the merchant consortium behind the Apple Pay competitor known as CurrentC, will lift the exclusivity policy in a matter of “months, not years.”
Previously, the MCX CEO only vaguely hinted that the retail consortium would consider allowing participants to accept both CurrentC, which is still in development, and Apple Pay, which launched in the United States earlier last month, saying that the scenario “could be entirely possible.”
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Davidson told Re/code that the exclusivity policy which blocks Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and other NFC-powered payment solutions serves to offer MCX “breathing room” while its own CurrentC is being developed. Retailers involved in the MCX group are contractually required to accept CurrentC and not other mobile payment services like Apple Pay or risk potentially being fined. However, Meijer, a supermarket chain participating in the MCX group, has openly accepted Apple Pay at its locations as Davidson noted in the interview.
Again, the change of tune is likely necessary following the previous two weeks of unfavorable attention received by MCX and its CurrentC product. Following the rollout of Apple Pay, the competing CurrentC service became a target largely due to the exclusivity policy that prevented the iPhone 6-backed service from working at certain retailers after previously working without issue.
This led to a flood of negative App Store ratings for the CurrentC app, which is only available through the store for private testing. The situation reached its lowest point when MCX informed CurrentC users that email addresses and zip codes were obtained through the service being hacked.
Shortly after the Apple Pay launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared that Apple Pay received over 1 million activations during its first 72 hours adding that it was larger than all mobile payment services combined. When asked about CVS and Rite Aid’s move to block Apple Pay after its launch, Cook described the situation as a “skirmish.”