While buzz continues to build among consumers about Apple Pay, at least two retailers have already jumped ship: CVS and Rite Aid. But the drugstore chains didn't simply dump Apple Pay on a whim—they're part of MCX (short for Merchant Customer Exchange), a retailer consortium that's supposedly hard at work building its own mobile payment system, Bloomberg reports. That system, called CurrentC, has already lured the likes of Target, Lowe's, and Walmart and is said to be scheduled for a national rollout sometime in 2015. "This act by CVS and Rite Aid heralds the advent of the imminent battle in the mobile pay system," a marketing and IT professor told Bloomberg.
There's one major difference between the two systems: Apple Pay works directly with the three major credit-card companies—Visa, MasterCard, American Express—while MCX will circumvent the credit card conglomerate entirely. What makes MCX more attractive to merchants is that a) they won't have to pay fees to the credit card companies if they use CurrentC, and b) CurrentC collects transaction data that can be valuable to retailers that want to offer incentives to customers, Businessweek reports. Yet when CVS and Rite Aid took Apple Pay (and similar systems such as Google Wallet and Softcard) off their grids last week, customers were baffled, especially since the system has been reportedly working well and the MCX system won't be ready till sometime next year anyway. One post declares, "I may go to a CVS, fill my cart with expensive products, then try to pay with Apple Pay. Silent protest."