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Walmart Makes Grand (And Solo) Entrance Into Mobile Payments

Walmart has officially thrown its hat in the mobile payments spectrum, introducing its own payment service, Walmart Pay. With the launch, Walmart becomes the first retailer to offer its own exclusive payment solution.

Walmart Pay is integrated into the retailer’s mobile app. Shoppers can use the service to activate their phone’s camera in order to scan QR codes displayed at the register upon checkout. An e-receipt will then be sent to the app and can be viewed at any time.

The move to mobile payments makes a lot of sense for the retailer when taking into account this year’s Thanksgiving weekend sales — nearly half of the orders were placed through mobile devices. Additionally, mobile accounts for 70% of traffic to Walmart.com, further indicating that consumers associate the brand with use of their mobile devices. To cap it off, the Walmart app ranks among the top three retail apps in number of users, below only Amazon and eBay, showing that the retailer has an enormous consumer base to build on (22 million users as of June 2015).

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Walmart Pay is compatible with any iOS or Android device and works with all major credit and debit cards, as well as pre-paid or Walmart gift cards. The service will be introduced in select stores starting in December 2015, and will launch nationally in the first half of 2016.

“The simplicity and ease of Walmart Pay comes not only from how it works, but also in how it’s been built,” said Daniel Eckert, Senior VP of Services at Walmart U.S. “We made a strategic decision to design Walmart Pay to work with almost any smartphone and accept almost any payment type — even allowing for the integration of other mobile wallets in the future. The result is an innovation that will make the ease of mobile payments a reality for millions of Americans.”

Mobile payments have become a “hot button” throughout retail in the past year, with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay all releasing new iterations to the public within that time span. But the journey to developing a major mobile payment system actually began in 2012, when Walmart joined up with numerous major retailers to form a consortium called Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX).

However, MCX’s long-awaited project, the CurrentC mobile payment system, has been delayed multiple times and will likely not launch until 2016. Walmart developing a service of its own casts even more doubt on whether the CurrentC solution will ever get off the ground. Without the backing of the world’s largest retailer in the MCX, and a three-year exclusivity period that expires in August 2016, there is potential that member retailers will abandon CurrentC altogether.

Furthermore, the willingness of Walmart to take the lead in building out its own payment service will surely turn the heads of other industry players looking to take their own spin with mobile payments. While most major retailers are not likely to build their own system, more brand integration with the big guns like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay seems like a strong possibility.

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