By Jacob Collins |Staff Writer|
CurrentC, an application being developed by retailers, could circumvent fees applied to credit card transactions.
The app would act as a mobile wallet on users’ phones that they could use to make purchases without having to physically use cash or a card.
The app is still in development but could be ready for public use as early as 2015.
Unlike the new Apple Pay app, which is exclusive to the IPhone 6 and IPhone 6 Plus and uses Near Field Communication (NFC), CurrentC utilizes the phone’s camera and Qr codes, so it would work with most market smartphones.
The company behind CurrentC, Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) was originally incorporated in 2011 and is run by major retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Lowes, CVS, Shell, Olive Garden, Michael’s, and Sears.
According to techcrunch.com, these companies, “operate over 110,000 retail locations and process over $1 trillion in payments annually, with a significant chunk coming in the form of credit card payments that cost the retailers fees.”
In 2003, Walmart filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Visa and MasterCard over credit card processing fees. If CurrentC gets a large enough following, retailers would be able to avoid these fees.
Some confirmed retailers that will be using CurrentC are WalMart, Rite-Aid and CVS. MCX requires participating retailers to enter into an exclusivity agreement and as a result drop support for other E-wallets such as Apple Pay.
After these retailers announced they would no longer support NFC wallets, there was major backlash online with the Apple and Android communities on Reddit, calling for boycotts against retailers supporting CurrentC.
The CurrentC app is available in both iOS and Android app stores but is currently limited to a select group of people who are currently part of a beta test group.
CurrentC works by linking your bank account to the app, so payments can be processed without the fee normally applied to credit card transactions. The app also supports loyalty programs from retailers as well.
To pay with CurrrentC, open the app and scan a payment code on the cash register’s screen. In some cases, the app will generate a Qr code the cashier will scan with a barcode reader. If the code cannot be generated or read, a numeric code is manually entered instead.
When transactions are handled financial data is not transmitted. Instead a secure token, an encrypted piece of information is transmitted to the financial institution to complete the transaction.
The app can also display a map that shows nearby retailers who support CurrentC. Any payments, discounts, and loyalty programs linked to an account will be automatically applied with each transaction.
Users are also able to view their receipts in the app.
The app also collects information about the user concerning, finances, location, health.
Advertising and marketing are targeted to users based on their information.
Security is a real concern when it comes to finical information. It is currently unknown what security features CurrentC may incorporate to prevent unauthorized charges if a device is stolen.
“[No] Only because I would be using my phone and I feel it would be less secure because phones get stolen all the time,” said student Savannah Barras.
In late October, the service was hacked compromising user e-mail’s. No financial or transaction information was stolen.
Dekkers Davidson,CEO of MCX said in a press conference held shortly after the hack, that the CurrentC app was not hacked and that the company’s e-mail provider was attacked.
“It does not impact the rollout of CurrentC at all,” said Davidson.
CurrentC is still in a closed beta with a projected release of early to mid 2015.
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