Walmart Takes On Apple Pay with Walmart Pay

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Walmart's solution to the growing number of mobile payment options: launch it's own. The retailer introduced Walmart Pay on Thursday as a way for customers to pay in-store using their iPhone or Android smartphone, and like CurrentC—the company's other mobile payment venture—requires extra apps and scanning on-screen barcodes.

Walmart Pay: Walmart'slatest Apple Pay snubWalmart Pay: Walmart'slatest Apple Pay snub

The retailer said Walmart Pay supports credit and debit cards, pre-paid gift cards, and Walmart gift cards. It'll be available this month in a limited number of stores and will roll out nationwide some time in the first half of next year.

Unlike Apple Pay and Android Pay, which let shoppers hold their smartphone near a credit card reader to pay, Walmart Pay takes a few more steps: launch the Walmart app, choose Walmart Pay, activate your camera, and then scan a special barcode on the register display.

Walmart senior vice president of services Daniel Eckert said Walmart Pay is "an innovation that will make the ease of mobile payments a reality for millions of Americans."

Easy isn't the word that first comes to mind with Walmart Pay considering it requires users first download a third-party app, and then go through a multi-step process to complete a transaction. In fact, it sounds a lot like CurrentC, which the retailer has been backing instead of supporting Apple Pay.

CurrentC is a mobile payment platform backed by Walmart, Target, CVS, Kmart, and several other retailers and restaurants that links directly to customer bank accounts instead of credit cards. It was essentially unknown until Apple Pay was introduced and retailers said their CurrentC contracts prohibited them from supporting Apple's NFC-based mobile payment system.

The salt in the wound for shoppers was that CurrentC hadn't launched and wasn't in any stores yet. The platform has been delayed and now looks like it won't roll out until some time in 2016.

That delay isn't helping keep partners on board. Some companies that previously blocked Apple Pay and Android Pay have reversed course and are now in the process of adding support now, including Best Buy and Target.

Walmart said it will continue to support CurrentC along side Walmart Pay. Apple Pay, however, is still locked out at Walmart and it doesn't look like that's going to change.

Walmart has 140 million customers every week, which makes for a lot of potential Walmart Pay users. Getting them to download an app that adds extra steps to the checkout process, however, may be easier said than done. Compared to the steps Walmart Pay puts users through, using a regular credit card sounds faster and easier.

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Walmart Pay and CurrentC aren't coming across like a pro-customer move. They feel more like an anything but Apple Pay attitude at the customer's expense.

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Given how modern hype cycles are, it’s always interesting to see how these things shake out. Remember Wal-Mart’s digital music store that was supposed to crush iTunes? I didn’t think so (and unfortunately for those that used it, the music they purchased there is just a faded memory, too). So it will be with this in a year or two. Competition is good, ‘me too’ imitation that makes a thing more complicated rather than it was in the first place, not so much. raspberry


Considering how fast Current-C was hacked, I don’t expect this will end well.


Seems to me that “take on” is much too optimistic.

It seems that it’s nothing more than a re-branded CurrentC that now accepts credit cards. That must really stick in Walmart’s craw.

Paul Goodwin

That’s one complicated dumb sounding process to do something that is so simple with ApplePay. But sometimes you have to do something even if it’s less than ideal. There’s probably a lot fewer Apple phones among the WalMartians than the non-Apple kind. And yes on the hacking geoduck. The hackers are probably drooling over the 100 million accounts to hack.


Given Walmart’s key position with MCX (CurrentC’s organizing company), I expect that Walmart Pay is the same thing as CurrentC, but without the cross-retailer business agreements and standards haggling that have delayed that system. Walmart is proceeding on its own, and presumably still hopes the rest of the MCX consortium can catch up at some point.

While I see their ultimate demise as a high probability, I’m not prepared to write them off just yet. Starbuck’s has had a dramatic success with the barcode-scanning transaction model. Perhaps Walmart can, too, through whichever of their ventures gets running.


I haven’t shopped at Walmart in like forever!

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