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Apple Pay rival set to hit stores next month

CurrentC, which is backed by a group of major retailers, faces a crowded field of mobile-payment competitors.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin

CurrentC started three years ago and has been slated to launch nationwide this year. MCX

Apple Pay is about to get some more competition.

A new mobile-payments system called CurrentC, backed by Walmart, Target and many other major retailers, will get a limited trial in stores starting next month, Bloomberg Business reported, citing several people familiar with the situation. The system has been slated to launch nationwide this year.

The trial will bring the group of retailers one step closer to letting the public widely use the CurrentC smartphone app, which has been in development for about three years. During that time, the mobile-payments space has gotten much more competitive, with Apple's payment system, Google's Android Pay, PayPal and others fighting for consumers' attention, so CurrentC's backers will have to work hard to gain a foothold against rivals. CurrentC also has to quell consumers' concerns after it was hacked last year.

A representative for the group running CurrentC -- called the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX -- didn't respond to a request for comment.

Many companies have tried to coax consumers into paying for items using their phones instead of credit cards or cash, though consumer interest has been tepid for years. The mobile-payments industry received a jump start last year with the arrival of Apple Pay, which has brought significantly more attention to the young industry. Mobile transactions now are expected to reach $118 billion by 2018, up from $3.5 billion last year, according to researcher eMarketer. Many tech, payments and retail players are now scrambling to get a piece of the new market.