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MCX, the big retailer answer to Apple Pay, announces layoffs and yet another product delay

The job cuts affect 30 people, almost half the staff.

CurrentC via The Verge

MCX, a consortium formed by major retailers to make a mobile payments app that few have heard of and far fewer have ever used, announced today that it is laying off 30 people.

CEO Brian Mooney said in a statement that MCX would also be delaying the national rollout of its CurrentC payments app for the second time in less than a year.

CurrentC is supposed to be the answer for Best Buy, Walmart, CVS and other big-name stores to services like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. It has taken a few years to get off the ground, but there has been a public beta in Columbus, Ohio, for a few months now.

Though some people are at least now testing the service, MCX has never really gotten off the ground.

For starters, retailers haven't had a lot of success with in-store consumer tech, and the CurrentC service itself is pretty limited; it only supports some credit cards, as part of the point of CurrentC is to help retailers duck credit card fees.

Also, this:

But MCX's troubles have extended well beyond product delays and a messy user experience.

In late 2014, there was an embarrassing security breach of the then-unreleased app that came on the heels of Apple Pay's largely uneventful launch. Though MCX was able to grow its stable of a few dozen backers, partner merchants Best Buy and Discover both said that they would begin accepting Apple Pay just over a year ago.

The day after the Best Buy and Discover quasi-defection, MCX announced that it had replaced its chief executive with Brian Mooney.

And in December, MCX partner and investor Walmart launched its own payments app, Walmart Pay, which some took as a sign that the big-box giant was no longer bullish on MCX.

In today's statement from Mooney (which you can read below), he chalks up the layoffs and new delays to a narrowed focus on MCX's partnership with Chase on its Chase Pay service, a deal that was announced last fall.

The company told Recode that it now has at least 40 people on staff, "which does not include staff inside MCX’s merchants and partners dedicated to working on MCX’s platform."

Here's Mooney's statement:

Utilizing unique feedback from the marketplace and our Columbus pilot, MCX has made a decision to concentrate more heavily in the immediate term on other aspects of our business including working with financial institutions, like our partnership with Chase, to enable and scale mobile payment solutions. As part of this transition, MCX will postpone a nationwide rollout of its CurrentC application. As MCX has said many times, the mobile payments space is just beginning to take shape — it is early in a long game. MCX’s owner-members remain committed to our future.

As a result, MCX will need fewer resources. This change has resulted in staff reduction of approximately 30 employees. These are very tough decisions, but necessary steps. For those employees leaving us, we want to thank our colleagues for their hard work and dedication to MCX over the last several years.

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