Apple Pay rival CurrentC hit by data breach as hackers steal email addresses

30 Oct 2014

MCX, the mobile payments platform behind the CurrentC consortium going head-to-head with Apple Pay in the US, has had to warn early adopters of its beta programme that hackers had stolen some email addresses.

MCX said that the CurrentC app itself was not affected and that many of the email addresses were dummy accounts.

“Within the last 36 hours, we learned that unauthorised third parties obtained the e-mail addresses of some of our CurrentC pilot program participants and individuals who had expressed interest in the app,” the company said in a statement.

“Many of these email addresses are dummy accounts used for testing purposes only. The CurrentC app itself was not affected.

“We have notified our merchant partners about this incident and directly communicated with each of the individuals whose email addresses were involved. We take the security of our users’ information extremely seriously. MCX is continuing to investigate this situation and will provide updates as necessary.”

The war for the digital hearts and wallets

CurrentC is a consortium of retailers led by major chains including Walgreens and which is enabled by MCX, the Merchants Consumer Exchange.

The idea is that retailers will be able to have more access to data on what their customers are doing.

It also provides retailers with an opportunity to reduce fees of 2pc and 3pc that they are paying to credit card companies, according to Business Insider.

The sudden acrimony between MCX and the new Apple Pay platform – which is embraced by retailers across the US as well as banks and credit card giants Visa, MasterCard and American Express – is telling of the scale of the opportunity in contactless NFC payments via smartphones.

In the first 72 hours of going live last week Apple Pay has enabled more than 1m cards for NFC mobile phone commerce in the US, Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week.

However, the war for the digital wallet is already underway and retailers who use the MCX platform are being discouraged from also adopting Apple Pay.

Reports in recent days suggest that MCX will impose steep fines on members who also accept Apple Pay.

MCX hopes the CurrentC smartphone app will enable retail chains like Gap, Best Buy and Walmart to avoid credit card fees and provide more data on consumer shopping trends.

The main problem for CurrentC consortium members is that the MCX system won’t be available until early in the New Year, creating tension as the Apple Pay platform appears to be already catching like wild fire.

NFC payment image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years