Of all the retailers you might expect to be pushing forward the adoption of digital wallets and other FinTech products, Walmart is probably not be first on your list. And yet the mega-chain has been doing just that via their Walmart Pay option, partnerships with PayPal, and more. That’s why the technology site Benzinga recently invited Walmart’s head of digital wallets Karla Allen to speak at their 2018 Benzinga FinTech Summit in San Francisco and give an update on the companies ongoing efforts.
First Allen shared that Walmart Pay — the mobile payment option that allows users to scan a QR using the Walmart app in order to streamline their checkout process — has continued to catch on. Allen said, “The product has been really growing and consumers like it. Over 20 million customers per month use the Walmart app overall, and we’ve seen hundreds of thousands sign up for the Walmart Pay feature each month. We’re seeing a lot of growth there and there’s a ton of innovation.” Controversially the retailer has also made efforts to further drive adoption of Walmart Pay, nixing the option for users of their Savings Catcher tool to scan traditional receipts. Instead, the Savings Catcher program now operates exclusively through the use of Walmart Pay, with users being able to submit their receipts for processing after completing their transaction.
Another interesting way that Walmart is stepping into the FinTech arena is via a partnership with PayPal. Announced last month, the chain will soon allow PayPal users to make deposits or withdrawals from their accounts at any Walmart location. Allen declared that this arrangement is a great opportunity for both brands, saying, “This is the first time that PayPal has had a physical footprint for giving cash back from an account. We want to do more with partners to help support our customers in the way they pay.” The massive size of the chain was also on display as Allen prefaced that answer by noting that Walmart has more than 5,000 stores in the United States and that and 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart location.
Lastly, while it’s been Amazon that’s made headlines for its testing of cashierless stores, Walmart has been testing similar technologies. As Allen explains, “We’re trying to lead in customers getting in and out of the store quickly and not having to stand in line, especially during rush times like lunch time and holidays.” She added, “This is just a new way to remove some friction, and what we find is that people are shopping with us more often because they can get out more quickly and they really love it. About 80 percent of customers use it again within 90 days.”
When it comes to Silicon Valley and FinTech, even Allen is acutely aware that Walmart might not seem like the most natural partner. However she says, “We feel like there’s a gap in the products and services that are being built for middle America.” Based on their efforts so far it seems that the chain is making some real progress toward correcting that. As a result those who are interested in financial technologies and their growing implementations would be wise to watch what Walmart does next.