Walmart Bounces Back from MCX Failure

Patrycja Malinowska
Director, Member Content, P2PI
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Mobile Payment War Milestones

2012 - Walmart joins other retailers to form MCX and develop its own mobile payment solution dubbed Current C

2014 - Apple Pay launches

October 2014 - Whole Foods becomes one of the first retailers to accept Apple Pay

2015 - MCX member Best Buy announces it will accept Apple Pay

November 2015 - JP Morgan Chase launches Chase Pay

November 2015 - Walgreens integrates its Balance Rewards loyalty program with Apple Pay

December 2015 - Walmart enters the mobile payment wars with its own solution: Walmart Pay

May 2016 - Walmart accelerates rollout of Walmart Pay to reach all U.S. stores by back-to-school season

August 2016 - CVS introduces own mobile payment solution while continuing to reject Apple Pay

September 2016 - Best Buy begins accepting Chase Pay

October 2016 - ShopRite announces it will accept Chase Pay

November 2016 - Walmart says it will incorporate Chase Pay into Walmart Pay

March 2017 - Chase Pay agrees to absorb remnants of MCX

October 2017 - Albertsons Cos. expands Apple Pay availability to all stores

*Other mobile payment solutions include Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet and PayPal.

After a failed attempt to develop mobile payment method Current C as part of a consortium of retailers dubbed the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), Walmart is finding success in its individual venture.

The retailer's own mobile payment solution, Walmart Pay, has nearly surpassed Apple Pay for mobile payments in the U.S. in terms of use by shoppers in stores where they’re accepted, said Daniel Eckert, Walmart's senior vice president for services and digital acceleration.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Eckert said the retailer is enrolling tens of thousands of new Walmart Pay users a day — up from thousands several months prior — and that two-thirds of users employ it a second time within 21 days.

Walmart is the biggest retailer to eschew Apple Pay, which this year beat out PayPal as the most accepted mobile payment system among U.S. retailers, according to research from Boston Retailer Partners (BRP). Apple Pay is accepted at retailers including Whole Foods, Walgreens, Best Buy, Albertsons, BJ's Wholesale Club, Meijer, Office Depot, Staples and Petco.

While fragmented acceptance among merchants has contributed to lagging consumer adoption of mobile payments in the U.S. — particularly for in-store transactions — both Walmart and Apple are pursuing what is expected to be a lucrative market.

The mass merchant has two major advantages as a retailer: the ability to couch its solution in a mobile application offering additional value and control of communication in its checkout areas. 

“One of the critical factors for any mobile payment success going forward is education. We have found repeatedly that not only are consumers unsure of how and when mobile payments can be used but, even more telling, associates are unsure,” BRP said. “For mobile payments or mobile wallets to succeed, there must be further education at the point of sale to ensure that a transaction using a mobile device is not longer or more complicated than traditional payment methods for either the customer or associate.”

Walmart has been promoting its solution in stores since its launch with checkout signs as well as Smart Network ads. 

If Walmart Pay reaches critical mass, the retailer should be able to leverage it to help track consumer behavior and target specific shoppers both in-store and online. (Apple reportedly doesn't track individual transactions.)