After several days of questions as to why the pharmacies Rite Aid and CVS blocked Apple pay in their stores after initially accepting it, executives from the Merchant Consumer Exchange (MCX), a group of retailers working on a rival to Apple Pay, finally spoke out.
During a news conference, MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson rebuffed earlier reports from
The New York Times in which it reported that MCX members would suffer fines or penalties if they accepted Apple Pay.
“There are no fines to MCX merchants,” Davidson said. “There’s nothing in the structure that would have us do that. It’s simply not true. There are no fines.”
MCX members include retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite Aid, and several other notable chains. The group is working on a rival app to Apple Pay called CurrentC, which will be available on iPhone and Android early next year.
But CurrentC is being tested with a limited number of users now, and MCX notified them that some personal email addresses were leaked. Davidson blamed a third-party email-hosting service for the leak but wouldn’t go into much detail beyond that.
The news conference with Davidson was pretty bizarre, with MCX’s PR team requesting written questions from reporters over email in advance. Davidson responded to only a select few questions, and his answers were often vague or incomplete. Reporters were not allowed to ask follow-ups.
In an interview following the news conference, MCX COO Scott Rankin clarified some of Davidson’s responses.
Rankin said despite what has been reported, MCX retailers were allowed to use Apple Pay without suffering any sort of penalty. In fact, Rankin said MCX retailers could use both Apple Pay and CurrentC if they wanted to and would not be kicked out of MCX for doing so.
Rankin did not go into more detail about the CurrentC email hack, citing an ongoing investigation. But Rankin did say that although CurrentC would use barcodes on smartphones to make transactions, MCX was exploring other hardware options like the NFC technology used by Apple Pay.
Davidson also said MCX wanted to give retailers multiple choices for mobile payments, but he didn’t expand much beyond that.
Still, comments made by MCX executives appear to contradict the written statement Davidson made in a blog post:
Does MCX Require its Merchants to Only Offer CurrentC?
MCX merchants make their own decisions about what solutions they want to bring to their customers; the choice is theirs. 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. Importantly, if a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines.
Back when the MCX merchants first got together, it was in response to a market that lacked a viable mobile wallet that would benefit both consumers and retailers. Today, we believe that need still exists, and our working group is getting ready to reveal a solution that is different from other mobile payment options in many important ways.
So either something changed between the time the blog post went up and MCX began talking to the press, or most interpreted the original statement incorrectly. Either way, MCX seems to be changing its tune.