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 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.


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 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.