Well, after having not blogged all year, and having posted an angry series of six tweets (and counting) on the subject just today (with many more on this subject in the past), and having enough caffeine and free time for once to actually write, I figured I would write about the thing that’s currently pissing me off. So begins yet another of my typical blog posts.

What managed to infuriate me today was a post on The Verge about a new face in mobile payments, Stratos. Stratos aims to replace all your credit cards, for a fee of $95 a year. While I think Stratos is a pretty ridiculous idea, I’m not angry with them. I am angry that due to a malicious third party, Stratos even thinks it needs to exist. If you look at my tweets today, it probably isn’t hard to see who is responsible for this anger.

The villain of this story is one I’ve always indicated my distaste for. The nefarious actor in this plot? CurrentC, the evil alter-ego of MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange). Its minions? Walmart, Best Buy, and CVS (among others). Its evil plot? Make mobile payments so much of a pain in the ass that nobody wants to use them.

Apple Pay would be a wonderful solution. If people actually supported it. And from what I hear, NFC-enabled readers will proliferate with the new readers required by this chip and PIN thing I keep hearing about (from my understanding, it’s like a credit card dipped in snake oil, or sprinkled with magical pixie dust, or something). Unfortunately, if you’ve ever tried using Apple Pay, Google Pay, or (ugh) Samesung Samsung Pay at some random place, it probably didn’t work. This is because MCX (the organization that runs CurrentC) requires its members to disable support for competing mobile payments services. Because they know that nobody would use their app otherwise. Let’s take a look at a few common payment workflows to figure out why.

Apple Pay: Put phone (probably already in your hand) up to reader. Place finger on TouchID sensor. Done.

Card: Take out wallet. Find card. Swipe card. Put card away. Sign a piece of paper (or one of those terrible touch screens that feel like they came out of a bargain bin). Done.

CurrentC: Unlock phone. Open CurrentC app. Take a picture of a QR code displayed on a screen. Find apparatus for taking a picture in the store (some camera thing attached to the payment terminal?). Take picture of your phone’s screen. Done. Unless you wanted to pay by credit card, because MCX apparently can’t figure out how to support those. Cry.

Basically, it’s better to just not get your stuff at all than hassle with CurrentC, so aside from paying people a load of money to support it (and only it), it would never have a chance at adoption. But it won’t anyway, because any sane person would rather go to a bank and just carry cash than actually use it.

I can’t wait for the CurrentC launch, just so I can watch it fail. Yet it’s three years past its announcement, and it still seems to have no intention of launching. I have a feeling MCX knows retailers will drop out of it like flies once they figure out nobody wants to use it. Therefore, they never intend to launch at all, making the sole purpose of MCX to hold back the adoption of far better payment solutions. Maybe since Apple, Google, wireless carriers, and (ugh) Samsung are all pushing NFC-based solutions now, these stubborn retailers will finally see the light and grow tired of MCX’s vaporware that sells itself on the promise of delivering yesterday’s technological prowess, tomorrow.

Oh, and finally:

Anyone want to invest in pltry? It’s my new mobile payments startup. We provide wagons to haul your chickens around in, as well as a convenient app (for iOS and Android, Windows Phone support coming soon) for managing your chickens and ordering more chickens. You can also direct-deposit your paycheck with us and we’ll automatically send you more chickens! For a 1% fee, we’ll also include feed for those chickens. Retailers loved how ass-backwards MCX is, and pltry guarantees to one-up them in the inefficient cumbersomeness and user-unfriendliness CurrentC prides itself in!

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