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Kroger and Walmart continue to miss the future of mobile payments

Photo source: WCPO Cincinatti

The future of mobile payments is contactless and frictionless. There is really no doubt how things will play out at this time. It is slow to be realized here in the US, but the end is inevitable. People should eventually use their smartphones for most purchases. The younger a person is, the more likely they will be to embrace the use of mobile payments now.

It has taken time, but most dealers and banks have come round the fact that the best way to do this is to go with NFC readers, allowing customers to choose to use Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and others. When you summarize them, these platforms cover most smartphones customers want. People will still be able to use Chip and PIN credit cards, if they choose, for the foreseeable future. But contactless is where the market is heading.

The big problem right now is with holdouts. Remember CurrentC? Probably not because it was basically DOA. This was an attempt to derive NFC-based mobile payment solutions with a QR code solution that just couldn't cut it. Walmart is on its second attempt since then with a new app and internal service called Walmart Pay. Now this week we have a report that Kroger will also go alone with his own internal solution, called, you guessed it, Kroger Pay. Do.

Kroger and Walmart make the same stupid mistakes here. First, they go alone, instead of using the growing standards for mobile payments. These are several apps that you need to set up and wonder with, and give friction to every purchase when customers have made it clear they prefer to use the systems built right into their phones. Secondly, both Walmart and Kroger systems rely on QR codes. Again, the payment method is contactless and frictionless. QR codes are not something. You need to open an app, futz around and get to a QR code and then scan it.

This is a step backwards for consumers who exist for one reason ̵

1; to get more of your data. I understand that both Walmart and Kroger are threatened by Amazon and that data and analysis is the key to improving what they do to better serve customers and keep them to their stores, rather than go online. Kroger already does this with his Kroger card and app, so it's not as if they are flying completely blind.

For clarity, we have a great Kroger Marketplace in my small suburb, and I love to shop there. The layout is good. The staff are friendly and helpful. It's a great local business. I also have absolutely no problem with the Kroger card / account system for discounts and rewards. I have not used a card for this for several years, as I only enter my wife's phone number as my ID. The rewards and discounts are solid and we get what I think is a very nice discount on gas at the Fuel Center. I have no complaints with any of this.

But as I look to start using Apple Pay more and more, I find it just ridiculous that big companies like Walmart and Kroger continue to go against the grain. When it comes to Kroger, they already get my data through the discount card. They get my money in many malls. I flat-out refuse to use Kroger Pay, with its QR codes and inherently inferior design. Hopefully Kroger will see the light when Kroger Pay does not take off and embrace the future.

To get full disclosure, my wife is actually Front End Manager at our local Kroger Marketplace. One of her jobs over the last couple of years that has worked at customer service has been educating customers on how to use the Kroger app and how they can get to the digital coupons and sales items. She has been a great master of the app and is always willing to help anyone with it when asked. But when I talked to her about this article, my wife told me that she also had to fill many requests and questions about Apple Pay and why they didn't support it. I was actually a bit surprised to hear that, but there is just more evidence that contactless payments are what customers, especially younger customers, want.

Come on, Walmart and Kroger. Join the program and join the rest of us in the future.

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