Big Retailers Plan Effort for Mobile Purchases

By Brian X. Chen, NY Times:

Cash, credit or debit? You may one day have far more choices to make at the checkout counter. A group of big retailers, including 7-Eleven, Best Buy, CVS and Wal-Mart, said on Wednesday that they were forming a company that would offer a way for customers to pay for purchases with their smartphones, joining a wide array of businesses seeking a piece of this market.

Other than announcing the formation of the payment network, to be called Merchant Customer Exchange, the companies gave few details about how their mobile system would work or when it would be released. They said that their payment application would be available for virtually any smartphone, and that it would use a secure technology to process transactions.

Fourteen companies so far have agreed to help develop the mobile wallet system, and more are expected to join the alliance later.

“We believe that merchants are in the best positions to deliver mobile payments to billions of people,” said Michael A. Cook, vice president and assistant treasurer of Wal-Mart. He said the merchants in the group, which have $1 trillion in annual sales, knew people’s shopping habits and payment preferences, so it made sense for them to work together.

The announcement came a week after Starbucks said it was teaming up with Square, a start-up company that lets people make purchases with their smartphones… Read more

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