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CurrentC exclusivity at MCX merchants to expire in 'months, not years'

An exclusivity agreement that has caused some merchants involved in the MCX consortium —  notably drug store chain CVS —  to abruptly pull support for NFC-based payment systems, including Apple Pay and Google Wallet, is set to expire in "months," according to a new report.

The consortium, which is made up of a number of major retailers including CVS, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart, instituted the exclusivity contract to provide "breathing room" for the development of the CurrentC ecosystem, MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson told Re/code. That contract is set to expire in "months, not years," Dekkers added.

Confirmation of the exclusivity agreement comes one week after the arrangement was first uncovered, following reports that CVS had disabled NFC terminals in its stores to prevent customers' use of Apple Pay.

It is unclear whether membership in the MCX consortium and mobile payment exclusivity are mutually inclusive, though that does not appear to be the case. While CVS appears to have agreed to that stipulation, midwest grocery chain Meijer —  another MCX partner —  continues to allow Apple Pay in its own stores.

Members who do not follow through with the exclusivity provisions are reportedly liable to be fined, though Davidson did deny that the consortium directed CVS to take action. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that the "skirmish" between competing mobile payment providers would ultimately be decided by consumers "over the long arc of time."