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Walmart launches QR code mobile payment system to rival Apple Pay

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Walmart on Wednesday announced it will be entering the mobile payments business with a branded system called Walmart Pay, a direct competitor to existing solutions from the likes of Apple, Alphabet and Samsung.

Going live in select U.S. Walmart stores on Thursday, Walmart Pay is integrated into Walmart's mobile app and offers smartphone-toting customers the option to pay with any major credit card, debit card or preloaded Walmart gift card, the company said.

Unlike Apple Pay and other NFC payment systems, Walmart Pay relies on QR codes to complete transactions at the point of sale terminal. Upon checkout, customers select Walmart Pay from within the Walmart app and take a picture of a generated QR code on the POS terminal store to connect. An electronic receipt is stored in-app. Users can also elect to use Apple's Touch ID fingerprint recognition module for security.

"The simplicity and ease of Walmart Pay comes not only from how it works, but also in how it's been built," said Walmart VP of services Daniel Eckert ."We made a strategic decision to design Walmart Pay to work with almost any smartphone and accept almost any payment type - even allowing for the integration of other mobile wallets in the future. The result is an innovation that will make the ease of mobile payments a reality for millions of Americans."

Walmart sees more than 22 million active users on its iOS and Android apps each month, the company said.

During a conference call, Eckert said Walmart is in talks with other mobile wallet developers, but did not name any specific companies, reports Reuters.

Interestingly, Walmart is one of the biggest backers of retail consortium MCX, the group behind mobile payments platform CurrentC. That system is currently in limited beta testing. MCX retailers infamously rejected Apple Pay when the service launched in 2014, but a year later some — notably Best Buy — are breaking rank.

Walmart said it will continue to accept CurrentC payments alongside Walmart Pay when the service rolls out to 4,600 U.S. stores in the first half of next year. There are no plans to integrate Apple Pay into the mix.