Money20/20: MCX and Softcard set out plans to take on Apple Pay

Money20/20: MCX and Softcard set out plans to take on Apple Pay

In the long shadow of Apple Pay, this week two major mobile money ventures, telco-backed Softcard and merchant-run MCX, have been setting out their strategies for wining over customers.

MCX has endured a difficult couple of weeks thanks to the controversy surrounding its policy on barring member merchants from accepting Apple Pay and a data breach that saw pilot user email addresses stolen.

The venture's CEO, Dekkers Davidson, told Re/Code this week that the exclusivity arrangements it has in place are set to expire in a matter of months and used his Money20/20 keynote to stress that MCX is an "open network", with customers able to use it through the dedicated CurrentC app, a merchant member app, or even a bank app.

MCX is hoping that its main value to customers will not be payments, but the way it helps its merchants to deliver rewards and coupons seamlessly. The same pitch is being made by Softcard CEO Mike Abbott, who revealed during his keynote that people spend the vast majority of their time using the service not to make payments but to look at offers.

Abbott has taken a different approach to the Apple threat, welcoming the boost in public awareness of mobile payments, and claiming that Softcard is the alternative for the majority of Americans that use Android. He also revealed support for Windows phones, meaning that the service is available to around 100 handsets.

Softcard is also grateful to Apple for reinforcing the value of a secure element for NFC. The telcos' reluctance to work with Google helped to stymie the search engine's Wallet service and prompted it to push ahead with Host Card Emulation. While stressing that HCE has value, Softcard still argues that its approach is the most secure and is holding up Apple's approach as vindication.

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