Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been pushing ahead with EMV card adoption and the Merchant Customer Exchange mobile wallet, but gave little to no attention to them during its Feb. 18 conference call to discuss fourth-quarter earnings.
Instead, the company's own payments app, Walmart Pay, was showcased as a key development for 2016 with a targeted national rollout in fiscal 2017. The retail giant plans to emphasize customer experience as it develops its digital payments strategy.
Walmart Pay came about in part because the company "realigned our technology teams because we want more speed and more customer-centric and cost-efficient innovations like this one," president and CEO Doug McMillon said.
The goal is to "deliver one Walmart experience to our customers," McMillon added.
In the past two years, the conversion to EMV chip cards at the point of sale was taking up much of Walmart's attention, as it was one of the first major retailers to migrate away from magnetic stripe transactions.
In addition, while the company previously was a strong voice for MCX, it hasn't been as vocal about the retailer joint venture’s CurrentC wallet, which remains in beta testing in Columbus, Ohio at this time. When Walmart Pay was announced in early December of 2015, the company did say it would continue to support the MCX project.
Even with much of its focus now on Walmart Pay, the retailer has moved ahead with other digital payment technologies, including MasterPass.
Even without Walmart Pay available on a wide scale yet, Walmart customers are increasingly using the store's shopping app online and in stores, said Neil Ashe, president and CEO of global e-commerce and technology for Walmart.
"Customers also showed they are now comfortable buying on their phone," Ashe said. "This year  more than half of online sales were on a mobile device on Thanksgiving, which was double from last year."
With that foundation, Walmart began testing Walmart Pay in small groups of stores, Ashe said.
"Feedback from customers reinforced that the experience was simple and easy," Ashe added, noting that company wants to create more digital relationships with shoppers. In doing so, Walmart will put more emphasis on online grocery shopping, Ashe said.