Wal-Mart and Apple are in a bit of a tussle over Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payment system on the iPhone 6.
Wal-Mart is a leader of MCX, a group of merchants working on their own mobile payment system.
Wal-Mart is not accepting Apple Pay right now. Members of MCX, including Rite Aid and CVS, shut down support for Apple Pay after a few days of accepting it, likely out of a contractual obligation to MCX to only use MCX’s mobile payment solution.
MCX’s alternative to Apple Pay is called CurrentC. It’s been in development since 2012, and it’s a much clunkier solution. The user has to open the CurrentC app, then use a camera to scan a QR code, which is a boxy, bar code type of thing. Or, they unlock the phone, open the app, then have a QR code generated that gets scanned by the retailer.
After we wrote about CurrentC earlier, a Wal-Mart PR rep reached out.
During a back-and-forth, we asked why Wal-Mart doesn’t accept Apple Pay, which is a pretty elegant solution to mobile payments. An iPhone owner simply holds their phone to a payment terminal, then uses her fingerprint to confirm payment.
Here’s what we were told:
There are certainly a lot of compelling technologies being developed, which is great for the mobile-commerce industry as a whole. Ultimately, what matters is that consumers have a payment option that is widely accepted, secure and developed with their best interests in mind. MCX member merchants already collectively serve a majority of Americans every day. MCX’s members believe merchants are in the best position to provide a mobile solution because of their deep insights into their customers’ shopping and buying experiences.
Our emphasis is added in there. These are mega corporations fighting for billions of dollars — Apple, the banks, Wal-Mart, etc. — so it’s hard to know who to really trust.
But, we would trust that Apple is working with consumers in mind.
And we would guess that Wal-Mart is less concerned about consumers. It is more concerned with eliminating the 2% fee that comes with credit card purchases. CurrentC bypasses credit card fees, which will save Wal-Mart money in the long run.
In fact, Ron Shevlin, a retail banking analyst, says he asked former Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott why MCX could succeed when so many other consortium had failed. Scott’s answer tells you a lot about CurrentC, and MCX. He said, “I don’t know that it will, and I don’t care. As long as Visa suffers.”