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MCX CEO compares CurrentC rollout to original iPhone, reiterates exclusivity to end in 'months'

In a short interview published on Wednesday, MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson likened CurrentC exclusivity agreements to Apple's original iPhone rollout on AT&T, saying consortium members have their best interests in mind in not supporting Apple Pay.

CurrentC app


Davidson told The Verge that exclusivity agreements applied to the upcoming CurrentC mobile payment system are necessary for a successful rollout, but again noted support for competing solutions like Apple Pay will be added "in months, not years."

Comparing CurrentC to Apple's iPhone, Davidson said, "I would observe parenthetically that I don't think too many people complained when Apple went to market with the exclusive that you could only buy it at AT&T, which was the case for a while, and I think that was a reasonable business decision that Apple made."

The situation is not quite the same, however, as MCX merchants can decide whether to accept other forms of electronic payment at their registers. Grocery store chain Meijer, for example, announced recently that it would continue support for both Apple Pay and Google Wallet, bucking reported CurrentC exclusivity rules.

Other retailers, like drug store giants CVS and Rite Aid, opted to disable their NFC point-of-sale terminals following Apple Pay's release in October.

The MCX chief alluded to negative consequences merchants signed on with MCX face if they choose to support CurrentC competitors, but fell short of detailing supposed monetary fines that reportedly come with infractions.

"There are consequences, so if you decide to not keep the agreement that you made with the other merchants we're not going to put a lot of energy in helping get those merchants launched in the near term." —MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson"There are consequences, so if you decide to not keep the agreement that you made with the other merchants we're not going to put a lot of energy in helping get those merchants launched in the near term," Davidson said.

As for why merchants not fully committed to CurrentC may see slower than usual rollouts, Davidson explained that MCX is a fairly new, and comparatively small, startup venture with less than 100 employees. The group needs to focus resources on retailers that are "keeping connected to one another," he said.

Still, the exclusivity period is to be short-lived, something to be "measured in months, not years." Davidson said the same thing, nearly verbatim, in another interview on Tuesday.

On the virtues of CurrentC, the executive pointed out merchants can offer price cuts on certain products because the system is not linked up with credit card networks, meaning there are no swipe fees attached to purchases. An example is a gas station that can automatically knock 10 to 20 cents off the per gallon price by employing CurrentC at the pump.

Another benefit is loyalty card integration, something that Apple has yet to include in its payments solution. Customers can seamlessly integrate points or accrued cash value to their purchases with CurrentC, an option built into the mobile app. MCX partner CVS, for example, has one of the largest rewards programs in the world.

CurrentC only recently gained notoriety after Apple Pay was announced and MCX merchants subsequently pulled support for the iPhone 6-based system. Best Buy and Wal-Mart were the first two retailers to publicly state non-compliance with Apple Pay. But it was only until CVS and Rite Aid yanked support for Pay after initially accepting it that the media took notice.