Is the noise around mobile wallets drowning out the eventual winner? That’s the position this writer takes in presenting the Merchant Customer Exchange as the dark horse in the mobile wallet race. MCX is the retailer payment/network strategy being driven by U.S. giants like Wal-Mart and Target with increasing merchant participation from those seeking better, cheaper way to enable digital payments at the point of sale. They also seek to retain ownership of the highly sought after consumer data:
Giving someone else control of your customers’ mobile payment experience sets you up to be the fall guy. It’s just good business to be in charge of every facet of the customer service you’re providing. The Merchant Customer Exchange’s participating members know this, and know too much is at stake to get it wrong … as most mobile payment players have so far.
Defining current mobile-wallet solutions as failures stretches the argument a bit too far since none of them have exited the testing phase far enough to make that determination. Yet, the threat these retailers pose to the average bank and the card networks is considerable since they control so much of consumer’s everyday spend and more. But there’s nothing to indicate yet that MCX will be more successful than any other solution and its business model is still behind the veil. Just the fact that a group of disparate retailers in the United States has gotten this far is remarkable though. It’s a possibility that in the future, some consumers will segment their digital wallet into specific payment types such as retail (MCX), bill pay (bank or direct biller) and cash (P2P), using their favorite app for each.
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