The Coming Mobile Payment War: CurrentC vs. Apple Pay and Google Wallet

A Whole Foods shop in El Segundo, Calif., was among the first national outlets to accept Apple Pay when the Cupertino company's mobile payments system went live a few weeks ago. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)
A Whole Foods shop in El Segundo, Calif., was among the first national outlets to accept Apple Pay when the Cupertino company’s mobile payments system went live a few weeks ago.
(Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)

Call it Wal-Mart versus Apple. QR codes versus NFC. Checking accounts versus credit cards.

Whatever you call it, when two pharmacy chains recently disabled Apple Pay in their stores, it was clear the battle line was drawn in the coming mobile payments war.

On one side is a consortium of retailers including CVS and Wal-Mart that has agreed to next year implement a QR code-based app from Merchant Consumer Exchange (MCX) called CurrentC. On the other, near-field communications (NFC) options such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

Both warring forces are powerful. MCX’s group represents roughly 50 retail partners — from Best Buy to Target — that process nearly $1 trillion in annual sales. And Apple Pay’s exceedingly easy system — place your iPhone 6 near an NFC device and you’re done — saw 1 million credit cards enrolled in the service’s first 72 hours.

But, mobile payment experts say, a more powerful army may yet decide the payment system victor: consumers.

“This skirmish will go on for a while, but ultimately it seems shortsighted to tell customers that you can’t use their competitor’s alternative,” says Matt Schulz, industry analyst with Creditcards.com. “The baseline really is the credit card. The process of using one is still very easy, so everything compares to that.”

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SOURCE: Marco della Cava 
USA TODAY

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