By Karen Moss
A group of big retailers, including 7-Eleven, Best Buy, CVS and Wal-Mart are forming a company that would offer customers mobile payments.
The payment network, to be called Merchant Customer Exchange, will be available for virtually any smartphone and will use 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. Howard D. Schultz, chief executive of Starbucks, joined Square’s board.