Wal-Mart Stores Walmart Pay app is close to surpassing Apple Pay in usage for mobile payments in the US, giving the world’s largest retailer even more clout as a growing number of people shop with their smartphones.
“If daily enrollments don’t slow down, I think that’s pretty well on 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, Macy’s and Walgreens Boots Alliance. 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 retailer resisted the lure of Apple in favour of its own offering.
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.
“As the world’s largest retailer, you can imagine that we have conversations with a variety of companies about products and services that we think would be of interest to our customers, and Apple, as big of a company as they are, is one of those companies,” Wal-Mart said. Apple declined to comment.
Both companies are pursuing a $49 billion market for mobile payments that’s been slow to develop in the US. Many consumers still worry about mobile payments’ security, and find that using a plastic card is often as fast and easy as pulling out their phone to pay. Like many retailers, Wal-Mart still doesn’t accept the wireless payment technology built in to mobile phones, stymieing Apple’s efforts. Instead, Walmart Pay scans a code on the phone to complete a transaction.
Wal-Mart, in control of its own destiny and stores, has been able to train its associates and customers to use Walmart Pay. It’s promoted the service consistently in stores and online. Unlike Apple Pay, which only works with Apple’s devices, Walmart Pay works with both iOS and Android phones — a feature that hastened adoption.
Wal-Mart began narrowing Apple’s lead earlier this year. Some 5.1% of Wal-Mart shoppers said they used Walmart Pay in June, compared with 5.5% of iPhone users at stores that accept Apple Pay, which launched more than a year earlier, according to a survey by Pymnts.com and InfoScout. Walmart Pay’s rate of adoption is higher than Samsung Pay and Android Pay combined, the survey found.
“Apple Pay’s road is much more difficult than Wal-Mart’s is,” says Brendan Miller, an analyst at Forrester Research. “It means that Wal-Mart can make quicker changes, they can move faster in many respects than Apple Pay.” Forrester’s survey of 58,000 online consumers in the first half of 2017 found that 7% of them used Apple Pay in the past three months, while 6% used Walmart Pay.