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Three years ago, sensing that consumers would soon want to pay for things with their smartphones, many of the country’s largest retailers — including Walmart, Southwest Airlines, Bed Bath & Beyond and Dunkin’ Donuts —decided to build their own mobile-payments system.

But the company they built, Needham-based Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, still hasn’t produced the smartphone app at the center of its strategy. And after this week, things aren’t looking very promising. More →