Walmart Pay Usage Closes In On Apple Pay

by Raymond Pucci 0

Apple Pay ahead of Walmart Pay by a nose—for now. That would be the horse race between the two giants in the battle for mobile pay usage leadership. As the following article reports, Walmart Pay came out of the gate late, but is closing fast on Apple Pay’s adoption rate among shoppers.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s app is close to surpassing Apple Pay in usage for mobile payments in the U.S., giving the world’s largest retailer even more clout as a growing number of people shop with their smartphones. Available in 4,774 stores, Walmart Pay is enrolling tens of thousands of new users a day, up from thousands four or five months ago, said Daniel Eckert, who runs the business. Two-thirds of the customers who try it also use it a second time within 21 days, he said, giving him confidence Walmart Pay will surpass Apple Pay in the U.S. in terms of use by shoppers in stores where they’re accepted.

“If daily enrollments don’t slow down, I think that’s pretty well in the cards shortly,” said Eckert, senior vice president for services and digital acceleration. “I would have to imagine we are getting pretty close.”

Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer rejecting Apple Pay, which requires merchants to have the right hardware at checkout. Since it rolled out in 2014, Apple has attracted retailers including Best Buy Co., Macy’s Inc. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Apple doesn’t track individual consumers’ transactions, which makes some merchants reluctant to use it.  Walmart Pay was unveiled in December 2015, more than a year after Apple’s service debuted. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer resisted the lure of Apple in favor of its own offering — and it’s paid off.

Months after Walmart Pay’s debut, the retailer held discussions with Apple about incorporating Apple Pay into the app, according to people familiar with the matter. The talks continued until March of 2016, ending without a deal due to the difficulty of blending the technology underpinning each company’s approach, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions were private.

Keep in mind that Walmart Pay is only applicable at Wal-Mart Stores, whereas Apple Pay can be used at more than 50% of U.S. merchant locations. Apple Pay makes a payment transaction via an NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled terminal. Walmart Pay scans a code on the phone. For the universal Pays such as Apple, Android, and Samsung, the adoption rate has been sluggish and not incentivized enough for consumers to use over plastic. Walmart Pay allows store management to mine rich customer intelligence that is obtained from payment transactions. Can Walmart Pay pull ahead of Apple Pay?  Start offering integrated loyalty and marketing offers and watch the usage take off.

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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