Walmart has aggressively expanded the reach of the Walmart Pay option on its mobile app, making it newly available in more than 1,200 stores in states reaching from New England to the Pacific Coast. The retailer had first introduced Walmart Pay in December 2015. Stores in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas were added in May 2016, with Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia joining the roster earlier in June.
This rapid rollout by a powerhouse retailer could have an impact not just on Walmart’s shoppers but on mobile payments in general, which have evoked high levels of consumer interest but less-than-impressive actual usage. Only 18% of North Americans used their mobile phones to make a payment at least once a week, according to a 2015 survey from Accenture.
A key challenge with mobile payments growth is that, in general, shoppers are satisfied with current payment options, according to Vib Prasad, SVP Innovation at MasterCard. In a session on payments disruption at the Retail TouchPoints Retail Innovation Conference in May, he said “Payments are not broken, but there needs to be added benefits to have customers say ‘This is better.’ We need to get them to reject the old experience, which was seemingly O.K. For Millennials, payment should be fast and easy.”
Smartphone Interacts With Store POS
Shoppers with the Walmart app on their phones scan a QR code displayed at the store’s point-of-sale, receiving an e-receipt when the transaction is completed. Walmart Pay is compatible with iOS and Android devices and can be linked to major credit and debit cards as well as pre-paid and Walmart gift cards.
More than 20 million consumers actively use the Walmart app each month and it ranks among the top three retail apps in the Google and Apple app stores, according to the company. Empowering an easy-to-use payment option in many more of its stores is likely to make the app even more “sticky” than it already is.
While Walmart had been a founding retailer in the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), that group’s CurrentC app never gained traction with either retailers or consumers. In fact, a beta test taking place in Columbus, Ohio just concluded on June 28, with no plans to continue testing in other markets.
“Walmart Pay is a powerful addition to our app, a tool that we’re using to transform the shopping experience by seamlessly connecting our online assets and our stores for customers,” said Daniel Eckert, SVP for Services at Walmart U.S. “The service opens the door to new and better ways we can serve the 140 million customers who shop our stores each week.”