CurrentC Gets Delayed Again, Half Of Team Laid Off

Yesterday, Walmart deployed its QR code-based Walmart Pay mobile application in more stores in Arkansas and in stores across Texas. In a piece of news with curious timing, CurrentC, the mobile payment solution that was supposed to serve as a merchant-backed alternative to payment systems from Apple and Android, has been delayed again and the company behind it has laid off half of its employees.

CurrentC seemed like a great idea to retailers in the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) consortium back in 2014, when Apple Pay was in its infancy and NFC readers in retail stores were pretty rare. Stores that signed up initially included Walmart, Best Buy, CVS, and Rite Aid. The service required members to not use competing mobile payment systems for a period after signing up, but the “competing” thing became questionable as the launch date for CurrentC kept getting pushed back. Oh, and the service was hacked before it ever really got off the ground.

Many original CurrentC members, like Best Buy, now accept mobile payments in at least some stores. Walmart was the largest consortium member, and has developed its own payment app that’s rather similar to CurrentC.

The system remains in beta test in Columbus, OH, but without many retailers where customers can actually use it. In a statement provided to Recode, MCX said that they will be concentrating on their partnership with Chase on mobile payments, and less so on the merchant-led CurrentC project.

Utilizing unique feedback from the marketplace and our Columbus pilot, MCX has made a decision to concentrate more heavily in the immediate term on other aspects of our business including working with financial institutions, like our partnership with Chase, to enable and scale mobile payment solutions. As part of this transition, MCX will postpone a nationwide rollout of its CurrentC application. As MCX has said many times, the mobile payments space is just beginning to take shape — it is early in a long game. MCX’s owner-members remain committed to our future.

MCX, the big retailer answer to Apple Pay, announces layoffs and yet another product delay [Recode]