Walmart spokeswoman Molly Blakeman said Walmart Pay is being rolled out in select stores in northwest Arkansas and will reach all 4,600 U.S. stores by mid-year.
Blakeman, also said that Walmart still will remain in the MCX consortium of retailers and is piloting a CurrentC QR payment app in Columbus, Ohio. "CurrentC can be complementary to Walmart Pay," she said.
She also said Walmart is in discussions to integrate other mobile payment services with Walmart Pay. "You might see Chase Pay," she said, as an example.
Gillespie gave MCX, formed in 2012, only a 50-50 chance of ultimate success, partly because it has been so slow to roll out a mobile payment product. "Time-to-market has been excruciatingly slow, and MCX has to be careful or they'll lose relevance," she said.
Analysts said Walmart may have moved ahead with Walmart Pay because it couldn't wait any longer for CurrentC to hit the market.
"This is a critical time for mobile payments, and the window of opportunity for retailers to shape consumer behavior is limited," McKee said. "Walmart and others understand that dragging their feet means potentially missing the boat. Retailers are making a concerted push to develop mobile strategies that build out their relationship with the customer."
As for Walmart's reliance on QR codes instead of NFC, McKee said Apple was partly to blame because it blocks direct developer access to the NFC technology on its iOS devices. Developers must rely on the Apple Pay app to leverage use of the NFC on an iPhone, while developers with Android phones can freely build NFC-based apps.
"NFC alternatives such as QR codes will be mainstay in payments so long as Apple continues to block access to the NFC stack on iOS devices," McKee said.
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