Walmart Pay, the mega-retailer's mobile wallet, has gone live at its stores in Texas and Arkansas in anticipation of a national rollout.

As the first mobile checkout option available to Walmart customers, Walmart Pay leads a highly anticipated wave of retailer-centric mobile checkout apps due this year.

So far, Walmart Pay is fairly humdrum. The mobile payment feature enables consumers to pay in stores by linking a credit, debit or prepaid card to the Walmart app with an iOS or Android handset, and because it relies on QR code technology, Walmart Pay requires several more steps than the typical in-store payment approach using the NFC-based Apple Pay or Android Pay.

Once users have linked a payment card to the app, they can pay when they check out by opening the app, selecting Walmart Pay, activating the camera and scanning the code displayed on the register. Consumers may scan the code at any time during the checkout process, and payment is complete when the cashier closes the sale, Walmart said in a press release.

Consumers using Walmart Pay receive an electronic receipt, which is stored within the app.

Walmart in December 2015 said it plans to roll out Walmart Pay nationwide during the first half of this year, and the new feature would allow for the integration of other mobile wallets in the future.

In its initial phase, Walmart Pay takes a bare-bones approach, with no incentive to link a specific payment method.

But Walmart likely has much more in mind for Walmart Pay.

“The current app is primarily about getting better mobile engagement and a richer mobile experience for shopping online or in the store,” said Tim Sloane, vice president of payments innovation at at Mercator Advisory Group, adding that Walmart will “almost certainly” be adding enhancements.

“The longer term opportunity [for Walmart Pay] is to encourage or incent consumers to use a lower-cost payment approach such as debit or ACH,” Sloane said.

Walmart is a backer of the Merchant Customer Exchange's CurrentC retailer-centric mobile wallet, which has been in a prolonged pilot in Columbus, Ohio. Walmart is among stores participating in the beta test there, along with Target, Kmart, Sears, Exxon Mobile and Wendy’s, among other brands.

One of the differentiating features of CurrentC will be its integration with Chase Pay, a proprietary mobile wallet JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced last year that introduces a new pricing structure for participating merchants.

Starbucks Corp. will begin accepting Chase Pay by the fall of 2016, the companies said.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry