CurrentC retailers’ conundrum: MCX contract expressly bars Apple Pay acceptance

“One week after its debut, Apple’s new mobile wallet is showing promise with consumers,” Mike Isaac reports for The New York Times. “Apple’s rivals in the payments industry, meanwhile, are scrambling to prevent it from being too successful.”

“Even before Apple Pay was announced, a coalition of retailers refused to accept it in their stores. More than 50 companies make up this group, the so-called Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX, including global retail giants like Walmart, Best Buy and Gap Inc,” Isaac reports. “The problem is that under the terms of their MCX contractual agreement, they are not supposed to accept competing mobile payments products like Apple Pay, according to multiple retailers involved with MCX, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. If these retailers break their contracts, they will face steep fines for doing so, these people said.”

“Since Apple Pay was introduced a week ago, consumers have tried to use it in MCX members like Rite Aid and CVS. So those businesses have disabled the technology that supports Apple Pay,” Isaac reports. “But the clock is ticking. If Apple Pay becomes a hit, MCX member retailers still waiting on CurrentC to begin could miss out on untold mobile payment transactions. Merchants also risk customer resentment if they continue to refuse Apple Pay. And if Apple Pay catches on, consumers may not be interested in a competing product.”

“‘These retailers are in a real jam,’ said Karen Webster, chief executive of Market Platform Dynamics, a payments industry consulting firm. ‘The last thing merchants want is ticking off their consumers over payment,’ Ms. Webster said,” Isaac reports. “Many say they believe that if any company is able to widely influence consumer behavior, it’s Apple. And if that is the case, MCX may have picked the wrong mobile wallet to back.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Stupid, shortsighted companies sign stupid, shortsighted contracts and they deserve to pay a price for their shortsighted stupidity.

MCX retailers: What’s the steeper price, the business lost from Apple’s well-heeled customers avoiding your stores and making it a point to patronize your competitors or the one-time penalty to get out of your stupid, shortsighted contract for a shitty QR code-based system that is doomed to fail anyway? Hint: It’s the former.

In just one week, Apple Pay has already facilitated more transactions than all other ‘contact less’ payment methods combined! (Which shows how much of a flop Google Wallet is – it released over three years ago on September 19, 2011!)

Boycott CVS and Rite Aid and any other company that willfully turns off NFC in a effort to block the vastly more secure, much more private, and far easier-to-use Apple Pay service.

• Email complaints to CVS Customer Relations here.

• Email complaints to Rite Aid Customer Relations here.

Related articles:
Retailers like CVS and Rite Aid that block Apple Pay are taking a big security risk – October 28, 2014
Apple Pay tussle with CVS, Rite Aid the first shot in mobile payments war – October 28, 2014
In one week, Apple Pay already No. 1; used more than all other mobile payment systems combined – October 28, 2014
Alibaba’s Jack Ma says open to working with Apple on Apple Pay – October 28, 2014
Tim Cook blasts CVS, Rite Aid over Apple Pay blockade: ‘You only are relevant if your customers love you’ – October 28, 2014
Seeking personal data, Walmart, Best Buy, and others won’t let shoppers enjoy Apple Pay privacy – October 27, 2014
Boycott CVS and Rite Aid – October 27, 2014
Bad business: CVS and Rite Aid antagonize their most well-heeled customers by blocking Apple Pay – October 27, 2014
CVS stores reportedly disabling NFC to shut down Apple Pay – October 25, 2014
iPhone users earn significantly more than those who settle for Android phones – October 8, 2014
Yet more proof that Android is for poor people – June 27, 2014
More proof that Android is for poor people – May 13, 2014
Apple’s iOS dominates in richer countries, Android in poorer regions – March 25, 2014
Twitter heat map shows iPhone use by the affluent, Android by the poor – June 20, 2013
iPhone users smarter, richer than Android phone users – August 16, 2011
Yankee Group: Apple iPhone owners shop more, buy more, remain more loyal vs. other device users – July 20, 2010


    1. This wouldn’t be a DOJ issue. There is no “right” for you to be able to use whatever payment system you like. They could even say that from now on, they will only accept Bitcoin. It would be a stupid business move, but the DOJ can’t force them to accept cash, just like they can’t force them to accept Apple Pay.

      1. Actually, the DOJ CAN force a store to accept cash. On each bill of U.S. currency are the words, “This not is legal tender for all debts public and private.” I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know about digital currency, but if you can argue that Apple Pay is, in effect, currency, then the stores cannot refuse such payment. But, again, I’m not a lawyer specializing in this area.

      2. Actually, given the politics of the way the DoJ works, it could be a DoJ issue… if they decide to make it an issue. MCX’s merchant requirement to not allow any other mobile payment method could be construed as interfering with “consumer rights” for certain.

        IMO, MCX’s requirements certainly appear to be anti-competitive.

        But who really knows… we’re talking about a government agency.

        The DoJ didn’t get involved back when there was the bruhaha about Apple only accepting credit cards, and not cash, when buying an iPhone. Btw, does Apple still do that?

        I have no doubt that if Apple and Google removed the beta, invite-only version of the CurrentC app from their app stores, or refuse to allow the finalized version in, the MCX group would be complaining to the DoJ and demanding an investigation.

        Just how would the CurrentC system even work if MCX couldn’t get the CurrentC app on smart phones? It would be absolutely dead in the water.

    2. Forget the DOJ, Apple & Google should just delete the CurrentC app from their app stores.

      The MCX consortium is completely dependent on the Apple/Android ecosystems–and right now they have zero momentum or leverage. A simple “technical delay” to the approval of their app for an extra 8 – 12 months would also work.

      1. Yeah deleting the MCX app seems tit for tat and totally fair if MCX contractually says stores can’t use Apple Pay or Google Wallet. Why should Apple or Google support a service that denies one of theirs?

        CVS, Walmart, Best Buy, et al are SO hosed until they wise up.

      2. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the term “anti-trust lawsuit.” If Apple and Google did this, the MCX people would have them in court faster than you can say “CurrentC.”

        Apple does NOT need to abuse its market position to protect its vastly superior system over a clunky, disconnected-from-reality system like CurrentC. They should just remain silent and let it die.

    1. Because they are not stupid…. Why pay for the stupidity of others? It will not increase their sales in the slightest. They are already selling more than they can easily deliver. Who will pay then? The idiots who signed the contracts in the fist place AS they should. And they will not pass it on to those who boycott them, just the helpless who do not.

    2. Because Apple will have its consumers screaming at these retailers, and taking their dollars elsewhere, which will make the change happen.

      On another note, it may well be possible for retailers to either rescind the contract or accept Pay in any event because CurrentC is still vaporware. It’s difficult to claim that one of your members is breaching the contract by accepting a competing product when you have no product to offer.

        1. Morons. All you’re doing is making the average employee, who has nothing to do with corporate decisions on which payment systems to accept, re-stock your groceries.

          Not only that, do you really want to waste your time filling up a shopping cart, ringing it up, and then going shopping at another store? That’s just dumb.

          1. It’s called PROTEST and it’s not “dumb.” It works. And the employees are getting paid. If that is what they have to do, it will negatively affect the company and the PROTEST will have achieved its aim.

    1. Great strategy. Be an inconsiderate jerk to the retail workers and customers waiting behind you while attempting to make a point that completely misses its intended target. Way to make Apple users look like ignorant assholes. That’s great publicity. Thank you!

      1. Nobody suggested you do it when there are lines of people. And as to the retail workers, that word *will* get to the managers and up the chain, so it is hitting the target.

        I suggested it yesterday, and still think it is a great idea. Shows not only the stupidity of blocking ApplePay, but also that it cost them sales.

    2. Yes, by all means take it out on the low wage workers trying to feed their families, make their life hell because of some stupid corporate decision. How about NO!

      How much food will spoil during busy times as a result of your petty childish prank?

      How about you act like a freaking adult and write them a letter and take your shopping elsewhere until they wise up. Screwing with the cashier (And everyone behind you in line) is rude and senseless. The only thing it does for certain is cement your standing as an asshole.

  1. So what makes these retailers think that the consumer really gives a hoot what those retailers want anyway. We want what benefits US not them. Unless it’s a win-win.

    And I would RATHER use credit cards and get the points for purchases. I get plenty of other benefits from that. Retailers are going to have a HUGE backlash from trying to shove the customer away from that.

    And it’s also very curious that retailers who have their own credit cards and get revenue from credit usage would want to back a protocol that would take away that revenue. CURRENTC is dead in the water.


  2. If credit card companies and banks want to stick it to MCX Merchants cartel, they should reduce their charges by 1-2% to all old and new ApplePay merchants. This would entice (like they would need enticing) new merchants to come quickly on board, while waving the figure at MCX merchants cartel.

  3. Boycotting is a simple and effective move.
    So far:
    * No more buying Samsung CONSUMER products.
    * No more buying from stores as I learn of their MCX relationship. So, that’s me starting with Rite Aid and CVS.

    For those that haven’t learned by now, lack of sales hurt these guys, especially when they have to show up red-faced for Wall Street quarterly “earnings.”

  4. Isn’t this some form of monopoly, a company using services they partially own and blocking competitor options completely? Fuck these guys. I am never shopping at any of them again.

    1. Sells is sort of a strong term for what Best Buy does with Apple products. Tolerates or denigrates seems closer. At least it used to be. Haven’t been in a Best Buy for awhile, maybe it’s better now. They certainly wouldn’t be my destination for an Apple product.

      1. I’ve bought my last 3 iPhones and my iPad 2 from Best Buy. They always have Apple shirted reps at the stores I’ve gone to. And they know the products. I don’t mind BB for Apple

        Now, remember….all this was before this month. My area just got an Apple Store 2 weeks ago. So now that’s my option going forward…

        1. You must have better Best Buys in your area. Apple-shirted clerks are few and far between in some places. Congratulations on your Apple Store. We’re 75 miles out from ours and no improvement on the horizon. Still make the drive ever once in a while.

  5. My first experience with Apple Pay wasn’t all that great. Actually it wasn’t “Apple Pay” but NFC payment via an iPhone at Walgreens. It went like this:
    1. Got my phone close to the terminal, finger on the print reader, and within a second it was over. I thought…
    2. Girl said, “You have to enter your PIN.” What? My fingerprint is my PIN! Did it anyway.
    3. Screen said “Cash back?” and gave me choices of 5, 10 and 20. No “None”. So I asked and she told me I had to hit the yellow key on the keypad for that. No printed instructions to that anywhere. I did that.
    4. Screen said “$12.35 is that correct?” or something like that, and I had to tap the OK key.

    This was only 19% better than using a card, since I had to answer all those waste-of-time questions anyway. The Apple Pay part of it was absolutely painless; the Walgreen part sucked.

    1. Yeah… it appears that you used a debit card and not a credit card. I used a credit card and my transaction was over before I even realized it. It seemed almost too fast.

      1. That is part of the back story here. There is a history between the payments industry and big retailers, like Walmart. A few years ago Walmart actually suspended accepting VISA Debit cards for awhile. VISA tried to up the debit card transaction fee to the same level as the credit card transaction fee. Walmart balked, and I think this little foray probably lead to the establishment of MCX.

        But it looks like the payments industry has done an end run here, by making credit card transactions absolutely frictionless for ApplePay. Can’t say I’m for higher bank fees but I don’t mind paying for better service.

  6. And the crazy thing is, their stupid “CurrenC” thing doesn’t even exist yet! There’s some promise that it’s “coming in 2015” but for now it’s friggin’ vaporware. And it’s already dead in the water.

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