Commentary

Softcard, CurrentC: The New, Big Names in Mobile Payments

Maybe mobile payments aren’t moving along as quickly as some might like, but at least some of the major players behind the scenes are active in creating new names for their ventures.

A few weeks back, the leadership of Isis, the unfortunate initial name of the joint venture of the major phone carriers Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, announced it would change its name.

Today they did just that, renaming the venture and its Android app Softcard, though as of this morning, the app in the Google Play Store is still called Isis. We’ll be watching that space for the update.

On another front, the relatively silent Merchant Customer Exchange, with the dreadful acronym of MCX, also named itself today.

The venture comprising a monster merchant network is now called CurrentC, promising an app of the same name for Apple and Android phones.

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If nothing else, these two ventures are an aggregation of the most major entities in their respective spaces.

Customers of the mobile phone companies and the retailers make up essentially the entire mobile commerce marketplace, including all the potential users of mobile payments.

Here are just some of the participants in the merchant mobile payment venture:

  • Retail –  Walmart, Target, Best Buy, 7-Eleven, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Old Navy, Sam’s Club, Banana Republic, Sears, CVS, Dillard’s, Gap, Kmart, Lowe’s, Target, Rite Aid and Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Gas Stations -- Sunoco, Exxon Mobile, 76, Shell, Phillips 66
  • Supermarkets --  Publix, Giant Eagle, ShopRite, Meijer,
  • Eateries --  Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendy’s, Baskin Robbins, Olive Garden

The CurrentC mobile wallet app promises to automatically apply offers and coupons during the payment process, create a storage facility for all loyalty cards, let consumers use their phones to pay from their checking account, merchant gift card and credit or debit card.

I’ve been tracking and trialing Isis, oops, Softcard, since its launch and have been on a continual search to use it in places where it works (some Coke machines and my local Wegmans supermarket are a couple). It’s like paying with a credit card, except you open the app, type in a security code and tap the phone where you’d swipe a credit card.

The challenge for these two mammoth collections of entities, with all their inherent, various internal interests, will be to create platforms that work at a massive scale and then somehow persuade consumers that it’s worth their effort to give it a try, a potentially overwhelming undertaking.

As context, it took this long  to select a name.

But at least they now each have one.

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