In a statement yesterday, over in the US Walmart said that it has no plans to join Apple Pay (which is set to kick off in the States next month).
Walmart, as well as Target, 7-Eleven, Best Buy, Lowe's, Southwest Airlines, the Gap and Shell gas stations to name a few big firms, are instead putting their considerable muscle behind a competing system called CurrentC.
CurrentC is similar to Apple Pay in that no credit or debit card information is transferred during a transaction (or if it is, that info is accompanied by a uniquely generated, one-time-only authentication code).
The primary difference is that Apple Pay relies on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology embedded in the newest iPhones. A customer just has to wave their iPhone close enough to an NFC sensor to be detected and then the user authorises the purchase with a fingerprint scan.
When a customer wants to make a purchase with the CurrentC system, the CurrentC app creates a type of barcode (called a QR code) that can be recognised by most check-out scanners already in stores. The system doesn't require retailers to install NFC sensors, so it's much less expensive to implement.
But the biggest difference is the fact that CurrentC works with any smartphone, not just the newest Apple iPhones.
So even if the new Apple iPhones are wildly successful it will still take many months before even a small percentage of the public owns one.
Now other smartphone manufacturers may begin to put NFC chips into their devices just because Apple has done it, and they don't want to miss out on any potential markets (or they simply want to match Apple feature for feature to be competitive).
NFC payments may become all the rage and the dominant cardless payment system. Apple has quite a few major banks on board already. However, Walmart and Target combined make one heck of an impressive eight hundred pound gorilla, and if they want something they can usually get it – so it's quite possible that CurrentC will become the cardless payment system that wins out in the US.