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A mobile wallet once backed by Wal-Mart and Target will end

June 9, 2016 02:55 PM
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(Bloomberg)―Merchant Customer Exchange, a consortium of retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp., ceased development of its mobile wallet and is refocusing on supporting partner JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s mobile-payment service, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The company removed its wallet, CurrentC, from the Apple App Store last weekend. The last day for consumers trying the app to use it is June 28, CurrentC said on its website June 6. In May, MCX said it would fire 30 staffers, or about 40% of employees, and postpone a nationwide rollout of the service.

Formed in 2012, MCX was challenged from the start. Shortly after launching a trial in Columbus, Ohio, the product was hacked. And the app wasn’t easy to use: Consumers could only link their checking accounts or store credit cards, like Target’s REDcard, rather than bank-issued debit cards. Target is No. 22 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide.

While Apple Inc. (No. 2) and Alphabet Inc.’s Google rolled out their mobile wallets several years ago, MCX struggled to get its own off the ground. As a result, its biggest member, Wal-Mart (No. 4), decided to introduce a mobile wallet. Other retailers began accepting Apple Pay and Android Pay, effectively ending their efforts to build their own wallets and left CurrentC searching for bank partners.

Last year, MCX joined with Chase to bring Chase Pay, the bank’s mobile wallet, at 40 participating retailers, restaurants and gas stations. That partnership is now expanding. In announcing the product delay and job cuts in May, CEO Brian Mooney said MCX will concentrate on “working with financial institutions, like our partnership with Chase, to enable and scale mobile payment solutions.” But Chase is its only partner so far and the focus of all its efforts, said the person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

Chase Pay is in use on websites of 1-800-Flowers.com (No. 57), Drs. Foster & Smith (No. 114 as part of Petco Animal Supplies Inc.), eBags Inc. (No. 167) and Gerber Life Insurance Co. The bank has also signed up coffee chain Starbucks Corp. (No. 443) and Shell Oil Co. gas stations to introduce Chase Pay in their physical stores later this year.

“We’ve not announced future timelines or plans around the app but we’re looking forward to analyzing and learning from the data we gleaned throughout the beta,” MCX said in a statement.

 

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