MCX Ranks Swell with Southwest, More Chains (May 9, 2013)
Momentum continues to build for U.S. merchant consortium MCX, which today announced another batch of diverse merchants joining its mobile commerce effort. Southwest Airlines and Chili’s Grill & Bar are the latest to join MCX, along with other recently added companies, including DICK’S Sporting Goods, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., Meijer and convenience store chains QuikTrip and Wawa. MCX says 30-plus merchants representing 700 million customer account relationships are part of the effort, unveiled in August of 2012. MCX last month said Gemalto will build its mobile wallet, but has provided no time frame for when it will go live.
Participation in MCX by a prominent airline is a feather in MCX’s cap, some analysts suggest. “This is MCX’s first airline partner, so this could be a powerful vertical if other airlines follow,” David Schropfer, head of mobile commerce for advisory firm The Luciano Group, tells Paybefore. Southwest may first introduce mobile payments for onboard purchases, such as drinks, services and upgrades, before opening up higher-value purchases such as airline ticket sales to the mobile channel, he notes.
A Southwest spokesperson says the airline plans to harness MCX to sell airline tickets via mobile devices. “We do plan to enable mobile transactions for ticket purchases, at some point,” she said, noting that the timing will depend on MCX’s development schedule.
The diversity of merchants joining MCX, and their goals with the effort, appear to vary widely, Brian Riley, senior research director with CEB TowerGroup, tells Paybefore. “Airplane tickets are vulnerable to fraud, so I would assume there will have to be many layers of security involved for selling tickets through a mobile device with MCX, and the frequency isn’t there like it would be with Chili’s for its happy hour,” he notes.