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08/15/2012

Walmart, Target Join New Retailer-Led Mobile Payment Group

Retailers that collectively account for $1 trillion in annual sales have shaken up the hotly competitive mobile wallet space by forming Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), combining the "convenience of paying at the register with customizable offers," according to a statement released today.

Walmart, Target, Sears, Best Buy, Lowe's, Publix Super Markets, CVS and 7-Eleven are among the retailers behind MCX, along with major hospitality companies (Darden Restaurants, HMSHost) and fuel retailers (Shell Oil Products US, Sunoco).

MCX had no detailed information on its mobile application technology except to say that its development was under way, and that the initial focus will be on integrating a wide range of consumer offers, promotions and retail programs made available through "virtually any smartphone."

"MCX will leverage mobile technology to give consumers a faster and more convenient shopping experience while eliminating unnecessary costs for all stakeholders," said Walmart corporate vice president and assistant treasurer Mike Cook. "The MCX platform will employ secure technology to deliver an efficiency-enhancing mobile solution available to all merchant categories, including retail stores, casual dining, petroleum and e-commerce."

The mobile payment/mobile wallet arena was already crowded with some of the world's biggest corporate names, including Google, PayPal, Sprint and Microsoft, along with startups such as Scvngr, GoPago and Square. The latter company got a big boost last week when Starbucks announced it would begin using the Pay with Square app to process card payments in its stores as well as invest $25 million in the company, despite the fact that Starbucks already has its own in-house mobile payment app.

Now, with a multi-vertical group that includes the world's largest retailer, the mobile payments space has another power player in the mix – one that directly represents a group that will need to be on board with any mobile wallet solution that expects to succeed.

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