A group of global retail companies, including WalMart, Target and 7-Eleven, have formed a consortium to develop their own mobile payment network.
The Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) will allow customers to make payments through a smartphone app, that can be customised to each retailer’s needs.
"Development of the mobile application is underway, with an initial focus on a flexible solution that will offer merchants a customisable platform with the features and functionality needed to best meet consumers’ needs,” said MCX in a statement, adding that the application will be available on almost any smartphone.
With Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), the retailers are bidding to play a more influential role in mobile payment technology. To date, mobile payment technologies have been lead by payment processors such as Visa and Mastercard, mobile telecommunications suppliers and Internet companies such as Google and PayPal.
Terry Scully, Target’s president of financial and retail services, said that the group is "uniquely qualified" to offer the most comprehensive mobile payment options for consumers. "By participating in MCX, merchants are in a position to effectively deliver innovative payment approaches that aren’t available today," Scully said.
"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.
In echoes a move by coffee shop chain Starbucks, which revealed last week that not only will it be using mobile payment start-up Square’s technology in selected stores, it has also acquired a 25% stake in the company.
Analyst firm Gartner predicts that worldwide mobile payments will be worth more than $171.5 billion in 2012, up 61.9% from 2011’s value of $105.9 billion. The number of mobile payment users will rise to 212.2 million in 2012, up from 160.5 million in 2011, Gartner said.
Other retailers forming Merchant Customer Exchange are Alan Brands, CVS/pharmacy, Darden Restaurants Inc., HMSHost, Hy-Vee Inc., Lowe’s Cos., Public Super Markets Inc., Sears Holdings Corp., Shell Oil Products US, and Sunoco Inc. MCX announced that more retailers would be added in the coming weeks.