Target Likely to Join Mobile Payments Market

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Target may become the next entrant in the mobile wallet market, facing competition from the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung, and more recently, Walmart. In December, sources close to Target disclosed that the retailer’s new payment system is likely in the early stages of development. No launch date has been announced.

Mobile payment technology allows customers to purchase merchandise via an app on their smartphones. Some systems, like Apple Pay, use near-field communication (NFC) “bump” technology in their solutions. However, sources told Reuters that Target is considering the use of QR code technology, which would allow shoppers to scan a code at the checkout. The QR code reader would reportedly be integrated with the retailer’s existing mobile app (known as Cartwheel) and would link directly to a customer’s stored credit card information.

The announcement about Target’s entry into the mobile payment sphere is especially curious, as the retailer still belongs to the Merchant Consumer Exchange (MCX), a consortium of retailers supporting the development of a single, common mobile wallet solution called CurrentC. While CurrentC—another QR-based payment technology–has been undergoing testing, it has yet to be released to the general public. Its release has been pushed back several times already, which may be why retail industry members are considering other options. Walmart was the first retailer of the MCX to announce that it is developing its own mobile wallet solution.

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As of now, both Walmart and Target plan to continue their participation with the MCX. “Target is a participant of the MCX and we are testing its CurrentC mobile wallet with guests as part of a pilot in Columbus, Ohio,” said Eddie Baeb, Target spokesperson.

Target’s mobile app accepts Apple Pay, but the retailer currently does not take any type of mobile payments in stores. This may not be as big of a problem as it sounds: customers have yet to widely adopt mobile payment tech in their daily routines. A recent retail statistics survey from Accenture reported that while 52% of North Americans are “extremely aware” of mobile payment systems, only 18% use them on a regular basis. The mobile payments market continues to evolve, but it remains to be seen whether consumers will eventually see the benefit of leaving their physical wallets at home.

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