CurrentC was never intended to benefit you, the consumer.
Instead, the payment service was specifically designed to save retailers money. Credit card transaction processing fees of 2% to 3% add up quickly, particularly for low-margin retailers. A consortium of retailers led by Wal-Mart and including dozens of other companies thought that by creating a payment system based on ACH transfers and direct debits from bank accounts, they could all save a ton of money.
The actual payment experience for the consumer offered little benefit. You would use your phone to scan a QR code on the cashier's terminal, which would then debit your account accordingly while bypassing traditional credit card networks.
Spoiler alert: If your goal is consumer adoption, then this is the wrong starting point.
Me before you
It's a big behavioral ask to have consumers move away from an already-easy process purely for the sake of your own bottom line. In contrast, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) saw an opportunity to improve the mobile payment experience, strengthened with biometric authentication in the form of Touch ID. The hurdle of improving the traditional card swipe has always been quite high because, let's face it -- swiping takes you 2 seconds.
But Apple has delivered a compelling solution with Apple Pay, and the Mac maker continues to work on bringing the service to more and more countries around the world. And while Apple's economic model for Apple Pay is very viable, Apple Pay is not intended to be a stand-alone profit center. Rather, the service is intended to make life easier for consumers, while helping sell iPhones as a useful feature.
Another one bites the dust
It should come as no surprise then that CurrentC now appears to be dead. The company has informed its early beta testers that it will no longer be accepting new transactions and user accounts will soon be disabled, too. This comes shortly after the official CurrentC launch was "postponed" while CurrentC began laying off employees.
Many of CurrentC's retail backers have recently started to embrace Apple Pay and other mobile payment alternatives instead, an apparent acknowledgement that CurrentC is a lost cause. Wal-Mart even recently announced its own service (Wal-Mart Pay) in December, seemingly acquiescing to the reality of the payment industry by supporting the traditional card networks.
CurrentC never stood a chance.
Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.