MCX gets new CEO after Apple Pay scores Best Buy

Change of leadership at the mobile-payments effort backed by major merchants comes a day after member Best Buy opted for Apple's competing system.

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MCX, the merchant consortium behind the CurrentC mobile-payments system, has replaced its CEO.
MCX, the merchant consortium behind the CurrentC mobile-payments system, has replaced its CEO. MCX

A consortium of major retailers backing a mobile-payments effort has appointed a new chief executive a day after member Best Buy announced it would support a competing system created by Apple.

Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, announced Tuesday that Dekkers Davidson was leaving the group "to pursue other opportunities." Davidson, who had served as MCX's chief since 2013, will be replaced on an interim basis by Brian Mooney, a former CEO of Bank of America Merchant Services.

"We appreciate the contributions Dekkers has made to MCX in helping establish the foundation for the company's growth and success," the company said in a statement. "We wish him well in his new endeavors."

The change in leadership comes a day after electronics retailer Best Buy announced that its customers could now use Apple Pay to complete purchases made through the electronics retailer's app and would soon be able to use the mobile-payments system in store. Best Buy was a supporter of CurrentC, the system created by MCX, which has the backing of such merchants as Walmart, Target and Lowe's.

Commenting on Best Buy's decision to embrace Apple Pay, MCX said Monday that Best Buy remained a partner in the consortium and a CurrentC supporter. A Best Buy spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the chain was still a member of the MCX consortium.

MCX said Davidson's departure was unrelated to Best Buy's decision.

"Today's news has nothing to do with yesterday's news," MCX spokeswoman Kristin Parran Faulder told CNET.

Mobile payments are expected to explode in popularity by next year, growing to $27.5 billion in US transactions from last year's $3.5 billion, according to market research firm eMarketer. The number of mobile-payment users in the US is expected to hit 36.2 million next year, more than twice the number using digital wallets in 2014, the researcher said.

Many other companies have tried to tackle mobile payments in the past, with services that include Google Wallet, Softcard and PayPal, but it's been hard to convince merchants and consumers to sign on. Apple gave the sector a jump-start in September with the launch of Apple Pay , which allows consumers to make credit card purchases with an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus . Less than 72 hours after its debut, 1 million credit cards had been used on the service.

Not long after Apple Pay's launch, the payments system ran into resistance from a group of MCX merchants, with some members of the consortium deciding to disable consumers' ability to use Apple Pay in anticipation of the launch of MCX's alternative payments service. MCX denied encouraging the Rite Aid and CVS drugstore chains to block Apple Pay by disabling NFC terminals.

Aside from Apple, MCX faces stiff competition from other companies that offer similar mobile payments services. Samsung offers its new Samsung Pay feature on the new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge and has unveiled a mobile-payments service called Android Pay. PayPal, the digital payments unit being spun off from eBay later this year, plans to acquire Paydiant, a startup that helps companies such as Subway and Capitol One build mobile-payments options.

CurrentC, which is expected to launch widely this year, relies on QR codes rather than fingerprint identification, potentially making the system less convenient than Apple Pay. It also lacks support for NFC and the tap-and-pay feature found on Apple Pay and Google Wallet, which also uses the same technology.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. PT to include MCX's comment.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. PT to include Best Buy's comment.