Wal-Mart Confused by Mobile

by Tim Sloane 0

Arkansas Onlinereported Chris Bahn wrote this articlediscussing Wal-Mart’s tentative steps into mobile apps. In the article CFO Charles Holley tried to beupbeat while he identified some general principles:

‘Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a good feel for the basics it wants in a mobilepayment system.

Aschief financial officer, Charles Holley explained to investors this month thatconvenience for the customer is a priority. So, too, are safety and security.Eliminating cost is also important to the world’s largest retailer.

Beyondthat, though, Wal-Mart is still evaluating its options.

“Ithink it is shifting toward mobile pay. It’s just not clear exactly where it’sshifting,” Holley told investors at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2015Consumer and Retail Conference. “We need to make sure we’re prepared to beon the leading edge of that when it happens.”

So convenience, safety and security and eliminating costsare the design principles with no particular sense of urgency. While the first three are pretty much tablestakes, it is that last entry that probably keeps Wal-Mart frozen in place –while Starbuck’s has saved money on payments with its app, it is clearly alsoproviding consumer engagement and loyalty, two areas that Wal-Mart did notidentify as a priority. With that, thearticle dove into Wal-Mart’s marginal interest in MCX and the CurrentC mobileapp:

‘ Wal-Mart is part of a 50-retailer consortiumcalled the Merchant Customer Exchange. A mobile payment product, CurrentC, isbeing developed by the exchange. Mobile payments are made through applicationson devices such as smartphones or tablets and allow the user to connect withtheir bank account or credit card.

CurrentCcurrently is in a private pilot phase. There is no firm timetable on when itwill be available in retailers, and the testing program is not being carriedout in any Wal-Mart stores. ‘

Of course CurrentC is not just about payments, but Wal-Martis unlikely to be interested in its other aspects:

“Mobilepay is only part of the product being developed for retailers. There is also acustomer loyalty program component, although Wal-Mart does not currently offerthat to its customers.”

Overview by Tim Sloane, VP of Payments Innovation for Mercator Advisory Group

Read full story at Arkansas Online

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