Uh-oh. CurrentC, Merchants Consumer Exchange's answer to Apple Pay, has already been hacked. The team behind CurrentC emailed those who have signed up for the beta version of the yet-to-be-released mobile payment system, warning them that some unauthorized third parties have apparently gotten hold of some of the users' email addresses.
Apparently, it is not a major breach, but for something that is just getting started on a field that demands utmost security, CurrentC is not looking so good right now.
CurrentC came to the fore the past few days in relation to the recent launch of Apple Pay, the mobile payment system developed by Apple for its new iPhone 6. CurrentC is backed by MCX, a consortium of retailers currently in the process of developing a mobile payment system that would rival Apple's. MCX is led by retail giant Wal-Mart. Two retailers, Rite Aid and CVS, both members of MCX, had blocked the use of Apple Pay in all their locations.
Aside from being a mobile payment system, CurrentC is designed to provide retailers with lots of information regarding the purchasing habits of consumers. Because retailers want to get rid of the 2 or 3 percent fees that credit card companies are collecting from them, they can use CurrentC to bypass the need for credit cards by connecting directly with the consumers' bank accounts.
Like all other mobile payment systems, the most important concern is security. It is not clear yet how secure CurrentC will be, but some consumers are already beginning to voice their unease at the idea of a system that has access to their bank accounts, never mind constant monitoring of their buying habits.
And now with this hacking incident, the consumers' fears may be exacerbated. For their part, the makers of CurrentC were quick to address the incident, immediately releasing a statement that most of the email addresses obtained by third parties were actually just dummy accounts used for testing. As for the mobile payment system itself, the team reassured those who signed up that CurrentC was not affected at all. They further added that they will continue investigating the matter and provide updates if there are any.
But some damage have already been done, at least in terms of perception. If anything, it might be embarrassing for MCX who stopped support for Apple Pay because they wanted to provide another option that is accepted by everyone and of course, secure.
As for Apple Pay, it could not have asked for a better initial reception. In its first three days, Apple's mobile payment system has already registered more than 1 million credit cards. By the time CurrentC launches next year, they may have plenty of catching up to do.
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