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:
Let's playback and zoom in on that for a minute:
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 reaction to the story on Twitter was interesting:
The Walmart Pay app is on the cusp of surpassing Apple Pay in U.S. mobile payments https://t.co/IVGqzhbOCO pic.twitter.com/eazjCLSvqJThe Walmart Pay app is on the cusp of surpassing Apple Pay in U.S. mobile payments https://t.co/IVGqzhbOCO pic.twitter.com/eazjCLSvqJ— Bloomberg (@business) November 7, 2017November 7, 2017
The reaction I got was similar:
This is how it reads to me. I don't understand how they're getting Bloomberg or anyone to parrot those heds? https://twitter.com/garrettfahey/status/927901606502211585This is how it reads to me. I don't understand how they're getting Bloomberg or anyone to parrot those heds? https://twitter.com/garrettfahey/status/927901606502211585— Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie) November 7, 2017November 7, 2017
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.
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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.