MCX is a mobile payment platform for retailers, by retailers

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A group of merchants, including Lowe’s, Gap, Wal-Mart, Wawa and Dunkin Brands, have partnered to create a merchant-owned mobile application: MCX. This afternoon at Retail’s BIG Show, some of the stakeholders in this initiative offered a look at the thought process behind the development of this jointly owned mobile payment company and some of the solutions, from both the customer and the merchant perspectives, that they are trying to provide.

One of MCX’s top goals is to provide a superior customer experience. Checking out using MCX’s app shouldn’t be a stressful experience for consumers and it ought to enhance their experiences in stores. It also allows customers to use the same mobile application at every one of MCX’s partner retailers. So a customer will be able to download the app and use it to pay whether they’re shopping at 7-Eleven, Sears or Hobby Lobby, instead of having to download a different mobile commerce app from each retailer. Picture Wal-Mart on Black Friday, said Wal-Mart’s John Drechny. Think how easy it would be if everyone who wanted to pay on a mobile platform was able to use the same app, instead of fumbling between different apps, set up for different retailers or phones or payment platforms. MCX’s app aims to offer a nimbleness that would make that Black Friday experience at Wal-Mart go seamlessly.

Another one of the company’s goals is robust security. That means using barcode technology, cloud services and account tokenization that secures customers’ mobile transactions, said Wal-Mart’s Drechny. It also means choosing accessible technology. MCX’s mobile application will be available for use on almost every type of smartphone, and, because customers will be able to use the app at so many types of retailers, there won’t be the need for customers to have a smartphone with a certain type of chip or update. This means that you are not excluding any customers based on the type of phone that they have. This single-solution approach aims to improve both security and customer experience, and goes hand in hand with MCX’s goal of preserving and enhancing customer relationships.

One of the most fascinating parts about this exchange is that it is equitable for all stakeholders. All of the retailers involved, whether big or small and regardless of average ticket price, have equal say in the development of the payment platform. As Dunkin Brands’ Kate Jaspon pointed out, many of Dunkin’s locations are owned by franchisees and the average ticket price is relatively small compared to, say, Lowe’s, but that doesn’t diminish the company’s voice in the highly collaborative development process. MCX isn’t about getting a good deal for the big guy. Every retailer involved gets a say, though the process of collaboration may be lengthy. “We, as merchants, are very much aligned,” said Jaspon.

One of MCX’s other goals is to limit the stakeholder burden by reducing complexity and minimizing costs associated with mobile transactions. It’s tough in retail to look ahead and forecast the next big thing, and it’s even more difficult to know what’s coming but not know how to embrace it or react to it. Mobile payment platforms quickly have become a focus along the retail landscape and everyone’s looking for a strategy. MCX offers retailers an unprecedented opportunity to work together to develop what could become a type of standard in the mobile commerce world. As a bonus, because it was created for retailers by retailers, it helps meet every customers’ needs.

If Dunkin customers can make their morning cup of coffee a ritual, how long might it be until customers at any retailer make MCX mobile payments part of their ritual, too?

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