Rant: Mobile Payments

It’s time for a rant.

So I’ve been seeing a lot about an upcoming app called CurrentC, developed by a conglomerate of retailers including Wal-Mart and Best Buy, among many others.

The idea is they want to make their own mobile payment system (à la Google Wallet or Apple Pay). They even want to offer discounts through the app. Sounds OK, right?


First off, you can only link a bank account to it. Presumably, this is so these retailers can avoid the fees they incur associated with credit cards. But, this hurts consumers because we’d be liable for fraudulent charges. Nice!

Wait, but it needs my social security number and drivers license number, in addition to my bank account? And this information is all stored on their servers somewhere, not on my phone? I’m trusting this sensitive information to the same people who can’t keep my credit card number safe?

Compare that with Apple Pay (I think Google Wallet works similarly). My credit card number is only stored in a secure hardware element on my device. When I pay for something, a one-time token is transmitted to authorize the payment, not my credit card number. Plus, I still have the protections my credit card offers me.

This CurrentC had better be dead on arrival. And yet, I feel like when people see they can get 5% off their whole order at Wal-Mart, they’ll use it.

P.S. Stores like Rite Aid and CVS have begun blocking NFC payments (Apple Pay and Google Wallet) because they will only be accepting CurrentC when it comes out…next year.

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