With the launch of Walmart Pay, Bentonville, AR-based retailer Walmart's new mobile payments system rolling out nationwide by the first half of this year, the mobile payments landscape is set to become increasingly complex and balkanised, with retailers choosing to develop proprietary mobile payments platforms rather than work together to develop a common platform or spur mass adoption of device-based platforms such as Apple Pay.
So says commentator Laurence Cooke on Betanews.com. Money quote:
"Walmart is seemingly departing from the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) consortium and its pending CurrentC mobile payment platform, which has been plagued by numerous delays and concerns over the underlying technology platform. While Walmart will still continue its partnership with MCX, Walmart Pay will be the company�s main focus. This could mark the beginning of the end for CurrentC, an industry-wide payment system that was created for MCX restaurants and retailers, including Walmart, to utilize as a single payment solution."
While lowering transaction costs is the prime driving force behind retailer mobile payment initiatives, Cooke sees at least one other potential benefit to Walmart's move: the power of actionable customer insight to drive loyalty:
"With the integration of payments into its mobile app, Walmart wants to control the complete shopping experience. Walmart customers will now be able to complete the shopping lifecycle from weekly fliers, offers, lists and product information to mobile payments in-store with digital receipts that simplify product returns and warranty claims. By creating an extension of the physical store, Walmart Pay not only allows shoppers to make purchases in-store, but also while they are shopping elsewhere. Ultimately, Walmart will be able to collect important shopping data from customers that will provide insight to drive loyalty by engaging customers with personalised offers and relevant interactions."
Could Walmart Pay result in a move toward more robust CRM and loyalty initiatives? Time will tell - but you know Walmart is considering it. With 22 million customers actively using the Walmart app each month, that's a lot of customer loyalty up for grabs.