Walmart has made it clear: it will not shy away from digital competition.
The retail giant has recently taken on Amazon, offering free two-day shipping for orders of $35 and over, and piloting Scan & Go for Android users – an app that allows users to scan and pay for products they are purchasing using their phone, and presenting a digital receipt at the checkout.
But Walmart’s newest innovation is targeting an area that seems to have remained in a shadow for a while: money transfers.
The company currently has 1,200 dedicated money services locations, which allow customers to transfer cash both domestically and internationally. Previously, customers would show up to one of those locations, manually fill in (a considerable amount of) paperwork, and then pass it to a Walmart associate, who would manually re-enter all that info into the system. With the newest app update – rolling out next month – Walmart will allow consumers to pre-fill their information through their mobile devices.
For now, consumers will still have to come in to drop off the cash at a Money Center location, but that may change soon, Daniel Eckert, senior VP at Walmart Services, said at a press event yesterday.
As we continue to progress those capabilities, we’re definitely going to be taking a look at, particularly for some our best customers, the ability to completely transfer that money right through the mobile app. It’s a lil bit further off, but it’s definitely something that’s on our radar.
Currently, completing those transactions entirely on mobile is not possible due to tender restrictions, but Walmart is exploring opportunities to tie money transfers with its existing Walmart Pay service. “Wire service is treated as cash, and the two tenders that can act as cash is cash and pin debit transactions, which we currently do not support on Walmart Pay, because of the pin authentication,” he said. “But it’s something we are looking into to see if we can enable that for sure.”
The volume of transactions within money services can be measured “with a B,” Eckert said, adding that money services have been a substantive business for Walmart, with a primary focus on unbanked and underbanked populations, who have very limited (and expensive) choices when it comes to transferring money. “Both with Moneygram, as well as with our partner Ria Financial Services, we have plans to broaden that [service] to international wire service very shortly, as well as to bill pay,” he said.
Taking money transfers digital – especially for underbanked, and especially for international – could place the retail giant in line with some of the biggest names in digital payments. Eckert noted that Walmart anticipates more partnerships announced for its wire services, on both domestic and international sides (cough, Ant Financial, cough cough).
The company expects to complete the full rollout of initial Money Center upgrades by fall this year.
In addition to money services, Walmart’s pharmacy department will also get an upgrade: customers will be able to refill, track, and pay (via Walmart Pay) for their prescriptions all through Walmart’s app. Users will then scan a code at Walmart registers and pick up their orders using the express lanes.
Check out a short demo of money services upgrade below.