Skip to main content

Walmart threatens to mislead consumers about U.S. mobile payments

Walmart doesn't support Apple Pay. After its previous CurrentC scheme fell apart, the giant retailer rolled out its own, derivative, Walmart Pay system inside its iOS and Android apps. It gave Walmart complete ownership of the transaction pipeline — something a company that hates losing even the percentage typically charged by credit cards considers to be critical. But it doesn't provide the consistency or ease of use of more universal, device-level payments systems like Apple Pay.

That probably explains why we're seeing headlines and articles like this, which read more like Walmart PR than actual business reporting. From Bloomberg:

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."

Let's playback and zoom in on that for a minute:

Walmart Pay will surpass Apple Pay in the U.S. in terms of use by shoppers in stores where they're accepted.

The numbers are from Pymnts. But they're an apples-to-bananas mess. Apple Pay isn't accepted at Walmart, so a direct comparison is already difficult. (Walmart's Jet.com does accept Apple Pay, but I haven't found any recent usage stats.)

On the surface, that makes it read like Walmart is just playing word games to try and get attention — and nothing gets more attention than spoonfeeding Apple and a negative headline. Which is what you'd expect from Walmart marcomms. But it's not news and certainly not anything relevant to Apple, Apple Pay or, you know, any retailer or transaction outside of Walmart.

It's like saying Apple Pay smokes Walmart Pay at Apple Retail. Two thumbs up! Great job! Not news!

Update: Mike Wuertle, writing for Apple Insider:

The data for the Bloomberg story, and WalMart's claim of dominance was collected from a Pymnts survey. Ignored by both are other metrics about digital payments from the survey, claiming that 24.5 percent of those questioned claimed to have tried Apple Pay, with only 5.08 percent having used WalMart Pay.

And:

According to the survey data, an "eligible transaction" for Apple Pay means people with an iPhone that shopped at a store that accepts Apple Pay. For WalMart Pay, eligible transactions are only drawn from people that shopped at WalMart.

The reaction to the story on Twitter was interesting:

See more

The reaction I got was similar:

See more

Bottom line, I don't think there's a story here and if there is, Bloomberg didn't press Walmart or offer facts enough to tell it.

Meanwhile, I'm still using Apple Pay all day, every day in Canada, where it's nigh-ubiquitous. I was even surprised how many places in the U.S. took it when I was visiting New York City last week. Everything from the Taxi to the hotel, the vending machine in the hotel, and the artisanal coffee shop across from the hotel.

Walmart might still be holding out — which is a pity for customers who'd benefit from the consistency and convenience, and their own points of sale, which would benefit from the transactional rapidity — but with 20 countries ramped up, and upwards of 90% of all mobile contactless transactions globally being done using Apple Pay where it's an option, I think Apple's doing just fine.

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

34 Comments
  • All you have to do is use it once to see that it's total crap.
  • If you're shopping at Walmart, and your ApplePay doesn't work and walmart's does, and you want the convenience of electronic payment, you will be tempted to use Walmart Pay through their app. Makes sense. That's what Apple does..
  • So the percentage of people who use Walmart Pay at Walmart is nearly greater than the average percentage of people who use Apple Pay at stores where it's accepted? Well duh. Even if the number was actually greater and this had any meaning whatsoever, who cares? Certainly not Apple, since Walmart doesn't accept Apple Pay anyway. They're not directly competing. Agreed about ubiquity in Canada by the way. I mostly leave my wallet in the car now, only pulling out my debit card for stores I know don't accept NFC, which are rare. I work for a (barely) competing phone manufacturer and I can't use our phones to pay at the work cafeteria, but I can use my Watch - hilarious!
  • It makes as mush sense as 'iPads don't get PC viruses"
  • Wow, I think "in terms of use by shoppers in stores where they're accepted." says it all; if Bloomberg didn't see that perhaps a lesson in reading and writing is required. It just goes to show you that today's journalists/bloggers are not all created equally. In fact I'm surprised the headline wasn't "Apple Pay doomed, Walmart Pay used 100% of the time when electronic payments are made by shoppers at Walmart, is this the end of Apple?". Awesome.
  • I love Apple Pay, but it is so rare to find a place that accepts it. Maybe its better in Canada, but in my town there's Walgreens, Maverick (but not at the pump, only inside), and the dry cleaner. MacDonalds used to have it, but they pulled it all out about six months ago.
  • I've never been to a Walgreens (or Duane Reade, subsidiary of Walgreens) that didn't accept Apple Pay. It was launched chain-wide years ago.
  • Walmart Pay is a pain in the ***.
    Instead of using NFC it uses your phone's camera and the Walmart Pay app to read the QR code at the terminal. Which is fine, if it works. I can't tell you how many times I had a long line of customers behind me, tried to pay using WP only to find out that the WALMART APP HAD LOGGED ME OUT, so I had to log back in again. Even if it uses Touch ID it's still something I don't want to have to think about when there are half a dozen customers waiting behind me.
  • In other news, 99.9% of churchgoers identify themselves as Christian.
  • This really is a non story. What should have been written about is the latest revelations about Apple and it's Byzantine tax avoidance schemes, and their risible subsequent explanation.
  • "Apple and it's Byzantine tax avoidance schemes, and their risible subsequent explanation." I'll bet they want to avoid taxes. Who doesn't?
  • Anyone with a modicum of ethics for a start, but let's face it this kind of egregious tax avoidance is only available to large corporations or the super rich and it baffles me why anyone would support or shrug at such behaviour.
  • Curious on what the penetration of Samsung pay is at Walmart. Could give WMPay a run for its money.
  • Who cares what Wal Mart claims?
  • Apple needs something like MST so Apple Pay can work everywhere.
  • MST is based on soon to be obsolete technology. It's not even available in the UK due to the overwhelming prevalence of contactless and chip and pin payment terminals.
  • Bloomberg also claimed as fact that Apple was degrading FaceID so they could ship faster - which made no sense on a technical level - of course, yea, - basically they are saying that WM pay will be more popular at walmart stores (which do not accept applepay) or Disney Dollars will be more popular at Disneyland than any other non currency or credit cards. Perhaps this is the same research company that claims Windows Mobile would beat out IOS in 2 years.
  • Politically Incorrect Statement (But I don't care) Let's face it. Most of the people that shop at Walmart aren't iPhone people anyway. They have the free Android handset.
  • Snob.
  • There are over 1 billion active Apple iOS devices around the world owned by the the most lucrative demographic on the planet - more than enough to maintain Apple's stranglehold worldwide on mobile payments. And by stranglehold, I mean stranglehold. Apple Pay now accounts for a gob-smacking 90 percent of all mobile contactless transactions globally. 90 percent!! Walmart doesn't have a hope with it's awful convoluted mobile payment model. Seriously, unlocking your phone, launching the payments app and then finally lining up the camera and photographing a QR code is hopelessly flawed compared to just holding your iPhone to the NFC terminal with your finger on the TouchID button, let alone FaceID or just tapping the Apple Watch on your wrist on the terminal.
  • Interesting. I'll have to look up that data. However, mobile payments don't appear to be widely adopted per this article: http://fortune.com/2017/08/04/apple-pay-samsung-mobile-payments/
  • Oct 23, 2017:
    Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s VP of Apple Pay reports:
    "Apple Pay is accounting for 90 percent of all mobile contactless transactions globally in markets where it’s available"
    Apple Pay is available in "20 markets (which) represents a full 70 percent of the world’s card transaction volume"
  • Those stats that Bailey used are as disingenuous as Walmart's. 90% of all mobile payments is one thing, what she doesn't reveal is the proportion of how many card payments that accounts for. 90% of very little is still very little. Furthermore just because Apple pay is available in markets that account for 70% of the world's transactions doesn't mean it has that amount of usage.
  • On the contrary, as of July last year Apple and VISA reported that "Apple Pay accounts for 75% of all contactless payments in the US" and that includes contactless credit cards. Also, "More than half of the mobile payment service’s transaction volume now comes from non-US markets." "There are more than 11 million contactless-ready locations in the countries where Apple Pay is available as of the start of 2017, including 3 million locations now accepting Apple Pay in the US." according to Apple. Another indication of Apple Pay's remarkable success rate is that over a quarter of the ANZ Bank's customers in Australia are now using Apple Pay a scant 9 month after launch. ANZ is one of the Big 4 banks in Australia. In the UK, VISA reports that "The majority of British consumers have adopted mobile payments technology, with 74 percent managing money and making payments using a mobile device. This was ahead of the 54 percent figure for European consumers overall, according to Visa’s 2016 Digital Payments Study. This is a threefold increase from the 18 percent figure recorded in the same study last year." "58% of UK respondents use contactless payments in 2016 up from 20% in 2015. Contactless payments, which have seen rapid adoption in the UK due to the introduction of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and the proliferation of contactless cards, were helping drive the trend, according to Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland Managing Director at Visa. This all shows just how remarkable Apple's utter dominance (90% market share) of the global mobile payments market actually is.
  • Seriously, read those stats back. Not a single one actually gives any figures pertaining to actual usage. The only hard numbers in there mention how many terminals exist. For all we know those 75% of total contactless payments could amount to 3 out of a total of 4 payments. This is obviously not the case but it highlights the issue of just using percentages and not totals to show success, and is exactly what Rene was censuring Walmart for).
  • Here’re some more stats for you that may provide the confirmation you seek. MWE Consulting, reports contactless payments account for about 45 per cent of the value of purchases made with a personal credit card in Australia which is about $250 billion. In the UK, 34% of card transactions are contactless according to UK Finance, the trade body for the banking industry. £57bn was spent by credit cards just in the month of June in the UK. Methinks Apple Pay is doing quite well all things considered, although not that it has to - it is just another perk of owning an iPhone and/or an Apple Watch. Apple certainly doesn’t need the cash. :-) With 90% market share in Mobile payments globally, Apple has certainly obliterated Android Pay and Samsung Pay around the world - that is the main thing that matters here. Apple’s Ecosystem again blitzes the opposition.
  • Thank you for all those lovely stats pertaining to contactless card payments. Tis a shame you neglected to include any relating to how much is spent using Apple Pay, other than its more popular than Android or Samsung Pay.
  • Hi returnmyjedi, we don't have neat stats to reference in this case so we have to look at the figures as a whole. It doesn't take much to put 2 and 2 together if you cross-reference what we do have. For one thing Apple's dominance capturing 90% of mobile payments worldwide means that Walmart's claims of any meaningful dominance over Apple are immediately shot down in flames. Creative Strategies reported in Sept 2016 that 14% of consumers in the USA use mobile payments using a mobile phone, 18% in the UK and 27% in Australia. I think we can safely say that Mobile payments are a tad larger than "4 payments"!
  • If the figures are that plain someone would quote them easily and link to a source.
    When Apple can unequivocally prove a positive stat they back it up, when they can't they resort to smoke and mirrors.
    If TC can make statements like iOS x.x is now installed on X devices meanwhile knowing you can't revert due to their restrictions, (but keeping that a secret), he's obviously manipulative.
  • I have never been in Walmart and I almost don't carry a wallet because I use Apple Pay everywhere. I hate if you don't have it..
  • Walmart and CVS, Home Depot the three main shopping venues I use still holding out on Apple Pay. If they continue I will certainly have to start looking for alternative shopping though offhand really are not many that come to mind. I really dislike the fact that I have to pul out my wallet and credit card to shop at these places. DD, BJ's warehouse, Mickey Dee's all onboard and I was extremely and pleasantly shocked to find my local primary grocery store, Stop and Shop, now taking ApplePay. In line the little plastic order divider you throw between your stuff and he stuff in front of yours ANNOUNCED that Stop and Shop now accepted ApplePay and Android Pay. Someplace I shop constantly, finally!! Not only convenience but security. A so many of have been, I think I gave to counting after 5th company compromised my credit card information. These stores don't need my information to lose, they just need to be paid, tokens are fine. Wake up CVS etc.
  • I don’t patronize Walmart so I have no dog in that fight but I use Apple Pay every time I can and it’s my preference. I actually choose to patronize places that do use it over this that don’t. That said I hope Apple Cash won’t require a Debit card as my CU no longer issues them at all. They did studies and after those and member vote decided they were not worth the effort and risk anymore. They won’t reissue them when expired and won’t issue them for new accounts. You get a Credit Card or a standard nonVisa nonMc atm. That’s it. So if I can’t use a linked credit then this is worthless to me. I love no debit, I never ever use one and it’s jusr giving a theif the keys to the kingdom.
  • I for one hope this doesn't make me carry an iPhone always. I have latest iPhone and multiple Android phones which I keep switching between. Don't want to be stuck with iPhone iMessage alone because of lock ups like this. Great for Apple, sucks for people like me.
  • Samsung Pay > Apple Pay > Walmart Pay Apple Pay isn't accepted at Walmart or Target, but Samsung Pay is. I wish Samsung didn't own the rights to MST tech because an iPhone with Samsung Pay-like capabilities would be stellar.