Walmart (NYSE:WMT) leadership believes that its customer base will come to embrace mobile payments as traditional forms of payment like cash and debit cards fall by the wayside. But the retailer is still keeping its options open in terms of which payment services it uses.
Mobile payments have seen a surge recently, led by the successful launch of Apple Pay (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Walmart's CFO said at an investor conference last week that the company is already keeping an eye on how its performance plays out.
"I think that's where the future is going to be going for our customer," Walmart CFO Charles Holley said. "It's just not clear where exactly it's shifting."
When Apple Pay's launch was announced in September, brands like Disney, Macy's (NYSE:M), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) all flocked to it. But Walmart opted not to get on board at that early date, choosing instead to stick with the CurrentC platform in development by the Merchant Customer Exchange, which also includes other big retail names, like Target and Best Buy. MCX members have also promised not to use competing mobile payment platforms.
But Walmart may be softening its stance in light of Apple Pay's early success. While Holley was mum about whether the retailer would accept other payment platforms, he did indicate that the marketplace would probably see a combination of Apple Pay, an Android-compatible solution, and MCX's offering soon.
A Walmart spokesman, however, told the Wall Street Journal that the company would consider alternative payment options, including Apple Pay. At the end of the day, it comes down to what makes the most sense for the chain and its shoppers.
"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."
Apple Pay has been making steady progress for the mobile payment channel as a whole, with two out of every three dollars from contactless transactions at Visa, MasterCard and American Express now coming from the Apple system. The platform has even weathered its first security concern well, with bloggers coming to its defense to point out the vulnerability is with banks, rather than the system itself.
CurrentC, on the other hand, is still in its pilot phase but has already faced concerns over hacking.
-See this Wall Street Journal story
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