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Apple Pay will have a great head start when CurrentC arrives

Apple Pay will have a great head start when CurrentC arrives

August 12, 2015

It could be 2016 before Apple Pay has another major competitor in the mobile payment space. According to a new report from Re/Code, CurrentC – which is backed by major retailers –  may not be widely available until sometime next year.

The CEO of the consortium behind the system, Brian Mooney, said even though a pilot of the app will rollout soon in Columbus, Ohio, the product won’t be rushed:

“This is a long game,” Mooney said. “Certainly going faster is always better — that’s not necessarily a debatable point. But we’re going to do it right.”

How is it different than Apple Pay?

While it provides basically the same service, CurrentC is designed much differently than Apple Pay. While Apple’s system embraces banks and credit unions, CurrentC wants to cut out the system’s middle man – credit card companies.

Instead of using your existing credit card, CurrentC will tie in directly to your bank account. That’s good for the retailers because they won’t have to pay the additional fees charged by credit card companies when you use your card. That’s usually just 2 to 3 percent of a purchase. But for large retailers like Walmart, that can quickly add up to hundreds of millions in lost revenue.

And CurrentC will take a few more steps to use compared to Apple Pay, which is quick and easy. Instead of NFC technology, it will display a QR code that must be scanned when checking out. It will even collect other data to use for marketing and promotional purposes.

Who is supporting it?

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but the list of retailers backing CurrentC is a substantial one. Along with Walmart, some other major players include Target, KMart, Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts, Gap, and many more.

But there have been a few major defections. Just yesterday, CurrentC supporter Rite Aid announced it will also support Apple Pay soon. Best Buy will also take the mobile payment system at its retail stores by the end of 2015.

Wrapping it up

While Mooney and the retailers are probably right in making sure that the system is ready for prime time before a larger rollout, Apple Pay has continued to make strides with both consumer and retailer acceptance.

I’ve been using Apple Pay since the beginning, and couldn’t be more pleased. I wish every retailer I visit would support the system.

But by the time the calendar hits 2016, will it be too little, too late for CurrentC?

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