Walmart has launched its own mPayment service for use in its stores. Called Walmart Pay, the service went live in a limited number of US stores today, and Walmart says its presence will be expanded to all American Walmart stores during the first half of next year.
The service functions in a similar way to the Starbucks mobile app: iOS and Android users add their payment cards to the Walmart app, and then use the app to pay at checkout by using their smartphone cameras to scan a code at the POS terminal. (Conversely, the Starbucks app requires that a code on the user’s device itself be scanned.) The system is a little more complicated than that afforded by mPayment platforms like Apple Pay, which uses NFC for seamless, contactless payments at the POS; still, it could offer a compelling payment alternative to many customers. Reuters reports that Walmart Pay “will also allow for the integration of other payment options such as mobile wallets in the future,” but it isn’t yet clear what this means, and integration with bigger mPayment platforms like Apple Pay seems unlikely.
That’s because Walmart was the company spearheading CurrentC, a mobile payment platform designed as a rival to Apple Pay. While the Walmart-led coalition behind CurrentC, MCX, suffered a security breach last autumn, it isn’t alone in having endured such an attack, and the platform nevertheless remains in development, with a beta test currently underway in Columbus, Ohio. Meanwhile, Walmart has persisted in its refusal to support Apple Pay, and its latest mPayment offering appears to represent another shot across the bow.