Commentary

Mobile Payments & Death by a Thousand Cuts

It’s pretty safe to say that no mobile payments platforms have taken off like a rocket right out of the gate.

Google had some early glitches, many not of its own doing, thanks to the phone carriers. Those got resolved and Android Pay emerged.

Boston-based LoopPay had a strong market position with its easy-to-use payment FOB that could be used by essentially mimicking a credit card at most point of sale terminals. Samsung then bought the company so the tech can come built-in to Samsung phones.

Paydiant was rolling along with its smartphone cloud-based approach using simple on-screen codes.

Paydiant powered payments at Subway and was the engine behind the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), the mega-consortium of major retailers. Then PayPal bought Paydiant.

And then there’s Apple Pay, which finally saw Apple adopt NFC (near field communication) technology so mobile payments could be done without loading an app.

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One of the headwinds slowing Apple Pay and anything from Google were the number of major merchants who would accept the payments.

Part of the reason was that many major merchants were members of MCX and essentially not allowed by contract to use other mobile payment systems ahead of MCX.

Well, that dynamic is gradually changing before MCX even gets off the ground, if it ever will, of course.

MCX member Best Buy some time ago broke ranks, announcing plans to accept Apple Pay. That followed a similar announcement by grocery chain Meijer.

This week, Rite Aid also bailed, announcing that the company’s 4,600 stores nationwide would begin accepting Google Wallet, Apple Pay and Android Pay.

I expect there will be more such announcements just around the corner.

So as numerous mobile payment approaches inch along and grow, the obvious question is around the future of MCX and whether it will ever make it to market. Or face death by a thousand cuts.

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