Commentary

Mega-Mobile Payments Venture Loses Leader; Best Buy Moves to Apple Pay

The highly touted mobile payments venture of the major retailers has lost its leader.

It also may be losing some of its stores as Apple Pay kicks into high gear.

The Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) just announced that CEO Dekkers Davidson is leaving MCX “to pursue other opportunities.”

This comes on the heels of Best Buy announcing that it plans to start accepting Apple Pay.

That followed grocery chain Meijer announcing a few months back that it would continue accepting mobile payments from others outside of MCX.

Normally, that would be no big deal except that MCX reportedly precludes its members from initially using the mobile payment systems of others.

Retailers including Walmart, Rite Aid and Best Buy had disabled their mobile payment systems shortly after the Apple Pay launch, eliminating that payment capability in its stores.

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This shut out other mobile payment systems like Google Wallet as well.

The evolution of MCX follows the demise of another payment system, that one from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.

That coalition, known first as Isis and then Softcard, ultimately got acquired by Google for its Wallet, as I wrote about here at the time (Google Wallet Wins; Softcard Bails form Mobile Payments).

Other than its press release announcing the CEO departure, MCX would not comment on the future situation of the venture.

This is consistent with past interactions I’ve had with the venture, where no one would comment beyond any press releases they sparingly send out.

The coalition reportedly would be trial marketing the payment system in one market this year, but no one I have contacted knows where that market might be and if the trial ever started.

Since its inception, MCX has been somewhat quiet if not secretive.

The MCX members represent a who’s who of merchants. Here are just some of the participants in the 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

MCX did name an interim CEO in its press announcement with no indication if a search for a permanent CEO would be undertaken.

The obvious question is that over time, will any of the above named merchants join Best Buy and Meijer in accepting Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

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