With the launch of the Asus Nexus 7, Google finally added an additional weapon to its currently slim list of Google Wallet-compatible pickings. The list is seemingly slim because the cost of NFC technology has become reasonable to the point that manufacturers are just now beginning to integrate the tech into their designs. With Google's alliance with MasterCard slowly gaining traction, it's not hard to believe that other "retailers" now want a piece of the mobile payment pie before Google overtakes the market.
That's where the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) comes in. Announced on Wednesday (pdf), it's a mobile payments network jointly developed by more than a dozen big merchants including Walmart, Best Buy Target, 7-Eleven, Sunoco and more. They too want users whipping out their smartphones to make purchases rather than the less-secure plastic customers have relied upon for decades. But apparently don't want them doing it through Google's Android-based solution.
According to the announcement, development of the mobile application is underway, with an initial focus on a flexible solution that will offer merchants a customizable platform with the features and functionality needed to best meet consumers' needs. Even more, the payment application will be available through virtually any smartphone.
Mike Cook, corporate vice president and assistant treasurer, Walmart, told the Wall Street Journal that the MCX collaboration is open to all partners, but it has to be beneficial to member merchants in a way that improves the system and doesn't layer on additional costs.
"MCX will leverage mobile technology to give consumers a faster and more convenient shopping experience while eliminating unnecessary costs for all stakeholders," Cook said in the official announcement.. "The MCX platform will employ secure technology to deliver an efficiency-enhancing mobile solution available to all merchant categories, including retail stores, casual dining, petroleum and e-commerce."
"We believe MCX is uniquely qualified to offer the most comprehensive mobile payment options for consumers," said Terry Scully, president of financial and retail services, Target. "By participating in MCX, merchants are in a position to effectively deliver innovative payment approaches that aren’t available today."
However consumers are reportedly expressing "discomfort" with loading their personal financial information onto their phone. Google has previously countered this fear by pointing out that it's more secure than storing a credit card in a wallet or purse. The gadget can be locked, Google argues, and the Google Wallet app itself is even secured with a PIN. Presumably MCX will offer the same security measures.
"As merchants, no one understands our customers’ shopping and payment experience better than we do, and we’re confident that together we can develop a technology solution that makes that experience more engaging, convenient and efficient," said Mark Williams, president of financial services, Best Buy.
MCX will be announcing additional merchants, as well as more details regarding its product offering and partners, in the weeks and months ahead.