MasterCard (Apple Pay ads 001)

The whole CVS/Rite Aid/Apple Pay controversy is about to get uglier as MCX, the consortium of retailers who back the competing CurrentC mobile payment system, on Wednesday responded to accusations that it was purposefully blocking Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other NFC-based payment solutions and requiring participating retailers to use CurrentC exclusively.

Apple Pay has been praised for being secure and protecting your privacy by not sharing customer or transaction data with merchants. According to MCX, it does not store sensitive customer information in the mobile app. Instead, users’ payment data is stored “in our secure cloud-hosted network”.

Maybe I’m reading their blog post wrong, but if customer data and especially payment information is stored in the cloud, then it’s not secure and this is precisely why Apple Pay is, in my personal opinion, better.

Responding to reports claiming that participating CurrentC merchants will be fined for offering other payment services, MCX confirmed that exclusivity is required but denied fees for leaving.

“If a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines,” reads the blog post. So far so good, but the wording doesn’t explain why merchants are being fined for offering competing services, which could be viewed as unfair trade practice.

“MCX merchants make their own decisions about what solutions they want to bring to their customers; the choice is theirs,” reads the post. “When merchants choose to work with MCX, they choose to do so exclusively and we’re proud of the long list of merchants who have partnered with us”.

Walmart and Best Buy, both MCX partners, said earlier they would not support Apple Pay. According to Walmart yesterday, denying Apple Pay and other NFC-based mobile payment service is in consumers’ best interests.

“Ultimately, what matters is that consumers have a payment option that is widely accepted, secure and developed with their best interests in mind,” an unnamed Walmart representative told Business Insider.

Built on top of the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network, CurrentC avoids credit card networks entirely and instead charges your bank account directly.

The service relies on a mobile app that customers use to scan bar codes displayed on a cashier’s screen and requires an Internet connection during the time of purchase, unlike Apple Pay.

Users can choose to “limit the information they share through our privacy dashboard, which means they will have the ability turn off location based services and opt out of marketing communications in our app,” MCX said.

The ambiguous wording doesn’t mention data collection by retailers and sharing information about customers between participating merchants. The link to MCX’s CurrentC Privacy Policy was conveniently broken at post time — so much about user trust.

In terms of pharmacies, MCX “may end up interacting with limited information in the course of processing payments such as location and transaction amount,” though the consortium ensures that “CurrentC does not collect any information from any other apps, or health information stored in the mobile device”.

apple pay iPhone 6 convenient

MCX does share troves of sensitive customer information with merchants. Contrast this to Apple Pay, which only stores payment information in the phone’s Secure Element. The data is walled off from the rest of the system and never gets synced to the cloud.

Furthermore, Apple Pay does not share any personal information with the merchants or banks except for a unique device and transaction ID to allow merchants to keep track of purchases. When a customer makes a purchase with Apple Pay, their Device Account Number along with a transaction-specific dynamic security code is used to process the payment.

At no point does your actual credit or debit card numbers get shared by Apple with merchants or transmitted with payment or even stored on the device itself (that’s because Apple Pay uses tokens).

And if that weren’t enough, MCX’s systems have just been hacked!

MCX hacked (image 001)

As a notice on MCX’s website reveals, “unauthorized third parties” have hacked their systems and stole email addresses and other information for an unknown number of users.

With the CurrentC-Apple Pay battle brewing, MasterCard meanwhile is happy to promote Apple Pay with a series of TV ads and even Amazon relented and is now allowing its customers to load their Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card into Apple Pay.

And as retailers in the MCX camp are about to lose some sales by hating on Apple Pay, banks like Wells Fargo are giving shoppers money just to try Apple’s service. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook yesterday, the company saw over one million card activations in the first 72 hours.

The service already accounts for more mobile wallets in the United States than all other mobile payment options combined. Commenting on the CVS/Rite Aid’s Apple Pay blockage, Cook said that “in the long arc of time you’re only relevant as a merchant if your customers love you”.

Despite “overwhelming” response to Apple Pay, the iPhone maker conceded that there’s still much work to be done in order to sign up additional merchants and banks, bring Apple Pay to China and implement new features such as a rumored loyalty rewards program.

[MCX Blog]

  • Jason B

    Can’t we all just get along?

    Seems stupid to limit NFC payments to only one provider. At some point, when these type of payment systems become mainstream, and people don’t carry their cards around anymore, someone’s going to lose business over just not having a payment system that people like…

    • This is already happening! On Reddit fans of Android and Apple have actually formed an alliance! Only something as evil as CurrentC could do this! I for one hope that none of this bullshit hits the EU and UK as soon as Apple Pay hits the rest of the world and goes international…

    • prl99

      Actually, CurrentC isn’t an NFC program. It uses a scanning wand to scan the QR code received from the bank. Everyone outside the US uses NFC-based cashier terminals and ApplePay should work find with these once the arrangements are made between Apple and credit card companies.

  • Merman123

    Hacked before it launched? Not a good sign people…

  • I was going to ask why would anyone want someone to track their spending habits..

    • Because CurrentC isn’t designed to benefit you. If it were it wouldn’t involve QR codes! It’s designed for businesses that quite frankly couldn’t care less about consumers. I don’t live in the US but feel for you. Nobody asked for CurrentC but it’s being forced upon people whether they like it or not by preventing alternative forms of NFC payments from being used even if the system is cable of doing so.

  • TwinSon

    CurrentC doesn’t even SOUND useful, the hell do I need an App for? And are these stores going to all be offering in house free wifi to ensure that everyone has a data connection the moment they step through the door? Who actually wants to scan a QR code? Sounds like a complete hassle.

    • Its useful to only the business that want to track what YOU buy.

  • Zzyzxd

    Apple Pay is much safer and more convenient. Then I think the decision is so clear.

    And why should I use CurrentC anyway? They think I can get rid of my credit cards and pay everything with my checking account?

    • TwinSon

      My thoughts exactly. I never use Debit because my CC is directly tied to my Chase checking account & I accumulate rewards points for using my CC. They complete circumvent that which is ludicrous.

    • Yujin

      And not to mention that soon the U.S. government will force all banks to offer the credit cards with a chip so they either get with the program or lose sales.

  • stulaw01

    LOL is all I can say. I called this almost a week ago CurrentC would be open to hacking and getting your personal information. Bad system they should abandon now as no one is going to use it.

  • Glarus

    Their press release says only these email addresses and NO OTHER INFORMATION. Why are you saying that these email addresses AND other information were stolen?

  • Joey_Z

    Walmart is dragging those little guys with him for his own personal war with VISA. Not every one has the deep pocket as Walmart though. BestBuy on the other hand is just that guy who always makes the wrong decision… sigh..

    • TwinSon

      Best Buy better get with the program and stop playing around, wasn’t the owner trying to take the company private and buy out his investors with his own cash?

      • Joey_Z

        He’s probably trying to make BestBuy cheaper, lol.

      • Annie Leonhardt

        Yes. The company is on the road to bankruptcy.

  • waqass

    hahah Apple Black Op for sure 😀 😀

    • Rowan09

      Yep Cook is laughing right now.

  • Yujin

    Haha. This proves that this currentC is nothing but another dumb payment system that was so easy to hack it was done before deployment. Can you imagine once all the retards start trusting it?

  • Xee

    Apple Pay only for me thanks.

  • James G

    Hopefully this and the press wave that is ongoing will encourage some MCX partners to end their relationship with MCX and support Apple Pay. The writing is on the wall for all of them. Get out now, support Apple Pay/Google Wallet or nothing. Quit trying to side-step VISA and focus on your customer.

  • Lance Baker

    What a joke. Seriously.

  • Ahuuu

    Apple hacked MCX to beat the competition haha

  • WiseBlasian

    Maybe apple hired a hacker to do that lol

    • Joey_Z

      Bank accounts on the cloud to hackers is like honey on trees to bears. Hackers will race to get a bite on that even without google or apple.

  • Umut Bilgiç

    Even though I am not a huge fan of the journalism here, my i just cant help myself laught at how much of a failiure this while currentc things is. Fanboy all the way lol

  • Not only will ApplePay be the standard for purchasing; but Apple is building the infrastructure via ID; so that we will be able to use this kind of authorization to VOTE in elections in the future.

  • Anthony Antunez

    Wow, this thing is DOA. Also who still wants to use QR codes, they have been around forever and these people think they will change the mobile payments game with it? XD