From the Pathetic Excuse Dept: You may have noticed that my normally sporadic posts have become increasingly sporadic. There is actually a reason. I’m in the final stages of a new book, and the manuscript deadline fast approaching. So it’s all-hands-on-deck time, and I only have two. Hope you’ll stick with me. And I hope you’ll like the result, coming spring 2015.
The more I read about the CurrentC consortium and its challenge to Apple Pay, the more I scratch my head.
Most critics of CurrentC (and there are plenty) are slamming it because of its technology, security or ease of use. However, what I find most disturbing is the obvious motivation for CurrentC — and the obvious end result if the consortium should realize their dreams.
The bottom line is that people can tell whether a company is acting in the customers’ interest or its own self-interest. Which isn’t good news for CurrentC.
Clearly, it all started when a light bulb went off in these retailers’ heads: “Why give credit card companies a cut of every sale? All combined, we’re giving those guys billions of dollars!”
By creating CurrentC, they would not only save truckloads of cash, they would gain new insights into customers’ buying habits, allowing them to shower people with targeted sales and coupons. Life would be sweet.
Of course, CurrentC is presented in a way that would have us believe it’s all to make our lives easier. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there is precious little about CurrentC that makes life easier for customers. It’s designed to benefit the retailers.
It requires more effort than Apple Pay, it latches directly onto our bank accounts, it requires us to surrender our social security numbers and it bypasses the fraud protection that comes with credit cards.
The retailers will profit in a huge way by no longer having to pay a percentage of their sales to the credit card companies. But — does anyone on earth believe they will pass those savings on to their customers?
CurrentC isn’t a savings plan for customers — it’s a new profit center for retailers, with a candy-colored shell to help it go down smoother.
But wait, you say! How can I possibly slam retailers for padding their bottom lines with CurrentC when I’m okay with Apple adding billions in profits via Apple Pay?
In this world, one earns a profit by providing a valuable service. Apple Pay makes in-store purchases totally simple, and it doesn’t cost customers a dime. It’s the credit card companies who will foot the bill, because Apple Pay reduces fraud and makes it easier for customers to use their cards. So everyone wins. Customers get a better experience, credit cards become more convenient and Apple makes a profit for making it all possible.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to enjoy watching this battle. Greed has always been a powerful force in our world. I think convenience is going to whoop its butt.