Several executives from retailers that make up the nascent Merchant Customer Exchange say they feel that the digital wallet joint venture is giving them a "seat at the table" where they once felt left out.

All say that up until the founding of MCX they felt disconnected from decisions that directly affect their businesses at the point of sale.


"There are probably a few things that created the impetus, but number one, we are closest to the consumer," says Dee O'Malley, Best Buy's director of finance. "We want to be heavily, heavily engaged in that consumer experience, and we think that, as merchants, we are in a pretty good place to do that."

O'Malley and executives from CVS Caremark and Walmart were sitting on a retailer panel at the 20th Annual ATM, Debit & Prepaid Forum.

Few details have been released about the merchants' potential mobile commerce moves.

The MCX - which includes major chains such as 7-Eleven, Best Buy, CVS, Lowe's, Sears, Shell, Target and Walmart - only announced its intentions to break into the payments industry in August.

There are still more merchants that will soon sign on, says Jamie Henry, Walmart's senior director of payment services.

Part of the reason why these apparent adversaries - all looking to take a chunk out of a consumer's pocketbook - have come together is to get more of a handle on their data, and to develop a tool that could allow them to better advertise to their customers.

"We have a very large extra care loyalty database," says Peter Nash, CVS Caremark's assistant treasurer. "It's over 70 million enrollees. From a marketing standpoint, I want to keep that relationship directly with the consumer."

MCX is solely focused on solving the mobile commerce experience for retailers, says Henry.

"MCX is going to be bigger than simply payments," he says. "But there will be other services that will be provided by MCX."

That could potentially mean loyalty rewards or other offers that the merchants could provide to users through the digital wallet.

Henry added that MCX won't easily show its hand. There will be no dates announced for rollouts anytime soon and no promises made of what technologies will be used. There is simply too much going on.

Follow Sean Sposito (@SeanSposito) this week as he covers The 20th Annual ATM, Debit & Prepaid Forum (#PaymentsForum) from Phoenix, Ariz.