MCX adds Southwest Airlines, Chili's Grill & Bar to m-commerce network


Merchant Customer Exchange--the proposed nationwide mobile commerce network spearheaded by retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy and 7-Eleven--continues to build out its ranks, announcing Southwest Airlines, Brinker International (parent company of Chili's Grill & Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy), Pacific Convenience & Fuels and RaceTrac will support its forthcoming digital wallet.

MCX now encompasses more than 30 merchant brands representing more than $1 trillion in annual sales, 80,000 stores, 4 million employees and more than 700 million payment and other customer accounts. Earlier this year, MCX added firms including Dick's Sporting Goods, Hobby Lobby Stores, Meijer, QuikTrip and Wawa.

The cloud-based MCX wallet will support barcode-enabled transactions and will run on digital security firm Gemalto's Allynis Mobile Payment platform. MCX also will leverage Gemalto software to offer branded smartphone applications as well as an SDK allowing retailer partners to embed the wallet functionality within their own apps. MCX said that all merchant members will accept the wallet once it is fully deployed. In addition to payment capabilities, the wallet will integrate offers, promotions, loyalty programs and location-based services.

The MCX partners first revealed their m-commerce ambitions in mid-2012. Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the MCX companies are displeased by the inroads made by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), operator-backed Isis and other mobile players and want to reclaim control over the customer experience.

Speaking at last fall's CTIA MobileCon, MCX executive Dodd Roberts said the alliance's members believe the m-commerce ecosystem is developing in a "clunky" manner and that consumers will demand a uniform digital payment process across all the places they shop. "The only way [m-commerce adoption] will take place… [is if] everywhere you went, your mobile phone can pay the exact same way with the exact same technology," Roberts argued.

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