CurrentC inches closer to death as Apple Pay adds over 30 banks

By Mikey Campbell

Payments industry hopeful CurrentC continued its slow death march on Tuesday, announcing plans to officially end beta testing later in June without plans for wider rollout. In related news, Apple Pay this week gained support from more than 30 U.S. banks and credit unions.

The Merchant Customer Exchange, a consortium of retailers responsible for developing the CurrentC platform, sent out an email notifying beta testers in Columbus, Ohio, that the program's trial period will end on June 28, reports The Consumerist.

An update to the CurrentC website confirms the upcoming services shutdown. When the late June deadline rolls around participating stores will no longer be able to process CurrentC transactions, and all customer accounts will be disabled. Beta testers who loaded a gift card into the CurrentC app and disposed of the original hard copy are being asked to use the balance by June 28.

MCX offers little insight into CurrentC's future, saying only that plans are in place to analyze data accumulated from the beta period. Last month the consortium postponed a scheduled nationwide rollout for the second time in as many years, reportedly firing 30 employees. The development prompted speculation on the system's impending demise.

In development since 2012, CurrentC was designed to link directly with customer bank accounts, allowing major retailers like Walmart to skirt credit card network fees. The system got off to a rocky start and was immediately challenged by tech sector players, including in-house offerings from Apple and Google. MCX attempted to thwart competition by restricting member retailers from accepting other NFC payment platforms, but ongoing troubles and industry pressure prompted Rite Aid and Best Buy to break rank late last year. Walmart followed suit in May by launching its own branded solution.

The news comes as Apple continues to build out its own mobile payments product, Apple Pay, with the addition of 34 banks and credit unions.

According to the company's Support webpage cards from the following banks can now be provisioned on Apple Pay:

Apple is aggressively expanding Apple Pay beyond the domestic market and most recently struck deals with Canada's "big five" bank holdouts. The payments service is available in Australia, Canada, China, Singapore, the U.S. and the UK, with future launches rumored for Brazil, France and Japan.

A report earlier today claimed preparations for a debut in Switzerland could be completed in time for announcement at next week's Worldwide Developers Conference. The rumblings are in line with Apple's immediate focus on expanding Apple Pay into markets within Asia and Europe.