Report: CurrentC Pilot to Expand Early Next Year (Oct. 29, 2015)
In a keynote address on Money20/20’s final day, MCX Chief Brian Mooney provided more details about how CurrentC—backed by Chase Pay—will work at the POS for consumers, demonstrating use cases in its current pilot in Columbus, Ohio. According to a new Reuters report, CurrentC now is eyeing expansion of that test to other states early next year.
“CurrentC will support private-label cards, ACH and gift cards, and we want to clarify that everywhere CurrentC is accepted, Chase Pay will be accepted as well,” Mooney told Money20/20 attendees on Oct. 28. The QR code-based mobile payments service will encompass 40 merchants and 70 brands, Mooney said, and merchants will take various approaches to integrate CurrentC into existing checkout and loyalty programs.
To demonstrate, Mooney aired a short video with clips from the current CurrentC test with 12 retailers at 200 locations in Ohio. In one example, Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology enables CurrentC users to pay in a contactless fashion using their phones at Wendy’s drive-through locations. The video showed how a user opened the CurrentC app, tapped her screen, and the payment was automatically completed via BLE. “There’s no holding the phone out the window [for the cashier]—bingo, you’re done,” Mooney noted. At Target, cashiers use a scanner aimed at users’ handset screens to complete the payment. “Each retailer tailors the consumer experience for how they want to read the QR code,” he added.
CurrentC’s partnership with Chase Pay, announced Oct. 26, was huge news at Money20/20, introducing the possibility of reducing participating merchants’ processing expenses through a new fee structure for Chase cards. Chase has not disclosed specific costs. Mooney said the Chase partnership brings “incredible choice” to merchants, and CurrentC will support merchant loyalty programs, retailer-specific deals and national coupons “all in one transaction.”
Timing may be the critical factor in CurrentC’s potential success, Zil Bareisis, a senior analyst with Celent, tells Paybefore. “MCX’s partnership with Chase Pay is very interesting because merchants are looking for alternatives in transaction costs, and there’s a lot of interest in incorporating loyalty and incentives into mobile payments. But they need to act quickly to get it up and running nationally.” The longer CurrentC lingers in a pilot phase, the greater its risk for losing competitive ground to other mobile payments initiatives using the more universal NFC standard, including Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, Bareisis suggests.