Skip to Content

The Mobile Money Battle Gets Physical

Large merchants are joining forces in the battle over who controls smartphone payments
August 15, 2012

Walmart, Target, 7-11 and Best Buy are among more than a dozen merchants joining together today to launch their own network that would give customers the ability to pay for purchases on their smartphones, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

The new network’s name, the Merchant Customer Exchange, is of the dry variety you’d expect in the field of payments, however the fierce competition in this emerging market is anything but. In March, Walmart’s vice president and assistant treasurer Mike Cook did not mince words in explaining why his company balks at prospect of sharing its customers private—and highly-valuable—data with the growing number of companies offering mobile payment services (see “The Most Powerful Man in Payments”): 

“Would you want some telco provider or some technology provider knowing all of your prescription goods that you purchased at Walgreens or Walmart?,” he said.

Aside from privacy issues, companies like Walmart want neither Google, PayPal, Verizon, AT&T nor a bevy of heavily-funded startups to have a view into that same competitive data, which could happen if their costumers use another company’s app or touch-to-tap technology on their smartphone (see “Battle of the Electronic Wallets”) to pay for goods. Mobile wallets are also a way for stores to offer real-time deals to shoppers, and merchants don’t want to have another company control that communication.

Few people pay with their phones today, and Walmart’s Cook is quite skeptical the technology will catch on widely soon. But for Walmart to join forces with its competitor Target, it must be more than a little worried. 

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept
AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept

The big new idea for making self-driving cars that can go anywhere

The mainstream approach to driverless cars is slow and difficult. These startups think going all-in on AI will get there faster.

biomass with Charm mobile unit in background
biomass with Charm mobile unit in background

Inside Charm Industrial’s big bet on corn stalks for carbon removal

The startup used plant matter and bio-oil to sequester thousands of tons of carbon. The question now is how reliable, scalable, and economical this approach will prove.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.