Walmart may eventually change its stance on accepting Apple Pay — but there’s no indication on when, or if, that will actually happen. But what a Walmart spokeswoman did reveal was that the major retailer may be open to accepting Apple Pay, The Wall Street Journal reported.
During the company’s investor day Wednesday (March 4), Walmart CFO Charles Holley acknowledged that mobile payments is the wave of the future and said Walmart will be part of the innovation, at least in some capacity or another. Whether this means Apple Pay or not is uncertain at this point, but Holley didn’t rule out the possibility.
"I think that’s where the future is going to be going for our customer,” Holley said about the mobile payments market in general. “It’s just not clear where exactly it’s shifting."
He didn’t specify what payment options Walmart was considering, but did say it was likely that Walmart would look into incorporating mobile payments options that are compatible with both iPhone and Android systems, along with those that align with the MCX (CurrentC mobile wallet) option. He indicated that Apple Pay was among the possible options to be incorporated into Walmart’s mobile payment options.
"It needs to be convenient to the customer, it needs to be safe and secure, and it needs to be at a low cost,” Holley said. “If you can figure those things out, then I think that’s going to win."
The hitch last year that prevented Walmart from adding Apple Pay was Walmart’s involvement in the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) system that also includes major retailers like Target and Best Buy. The CurrentC mobile wallet app from MCX is planned to launch sometime in 2015, which could impact how Walmart decides to move forward with its mobile payments options. Generally, MCX members haven’t accepted Apple Pay — partially out of loyalty and costs and partially because of a MCX clause that may prevent retailers from joining Apple Pay because of a possible conflict with their agreements.
MCX differed from Apple Pay in that it uses QR codes — which can be scanned by just about every smartphone — as opposed to NFC, which is what Apple Pay will use and which requires POS systems that support NFC and are NFC activated. Still, with the rate of Apple Pay acceptance growing — gaining an increasing share of the mobile payments market — it may be difficult for major retailers like Walmart to stay away from the Apple Pay buzz. And now there’s going to be Samsung Pay in the mix to potentially shake up the mobile payments competition.
So as Walmart works to create its competing merchant-owned mobile payment system, MCX, the question remains: Will the U.S.’s largest retailer warm up to Apple Pay? Or will Samsung win the battle? Holley’s vague comments make it hard to say, but this has been one of the first times the retailer has shown signs it’s open to other mobile payments systems.