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Apple Pay challenger CurrentC could postpone launch into 2016

MCX's CurrentC mobile payment platform may not officially launch until 2016, since the consortium is working to get things right, CEO Brian Mooney said in an interview published on Wednesday.

A public pilot of the technology will launch in Columbus, Ohio within a few weeks, Mooney confirmed to Re/code. Beyond that, though, CurrentC is not expected to launch as widely in 2015 as originally intended.

MCX will hold off on launching the service until it's ready, Mooney remarked, arguing that while "faster is always better," the aim is to "do it right."

News about the pilot program first emerged last month. At the time, though, MCX member Lowe's claimed that an app could launch as soon as the September quarter. Consortium COO Scott Rankin would only say that tests were planned for 2015 and that "good progress" was happening on the app.

At least some MCX members, including Rite Aid and Best Buy, are this month emerging from exclusivity agreements which prevented them from adopting rival payment systems, Re/code noted. Both of those companies have already announced plans to support Apple Pay, the former as quickly as August 15.

Mooney acknowledged that at first the plan was to have CurrentC ready before exclusivity was over. He held though that the service could still thrive amongst competitors, and would have advantages like coupons and loyalty cards, plus serious financial backing by members, since one of the goals of CurrentC is to avoid the higher transaction fees associated with normal credit cards. Initially the CurrentC app will only support store and gift cards, or direct checking account links.

It could gain support for conventional cards in the future, Mooney said. CurrentC's main competitors — Apple Pay and Google Wallet/Android Pay — already revolve around that option. The two platforms will gain loyalty and rewards functions later this year.

Apple and Google also have the advantage of being well-established players in mobile payments, and not only having their systems preinstalled on compatible devices but enhanced by technologies like fingerprint sensors and NFC. People will have to download CurrentC to try it, and make payments by scanning QR codes instead of simply tapping their device against a terminal.