Unlike some of my colleagues in the tech media, I don't have any particular beef with Walmart. Yes, they sell cheap imported crap, and yes, they under-pay their employees, stiffing both the people who make stuff and the people who sell stuff. But if you object to that strongly enough to actually change your buying habits, you'll soon run out of places to buy things. I do, however, object to the idea of a mobile payment system that works at exactly one store. That's taking the biggest problem with mobile payments as a whole, the lack of inter-operability, and turning it into a selling point.

And indeed, that's what the ubiquitous American retailer intends to do with Walmart Pay, announced this morning via press release. Walmart Pay will be an extension of the existing Walmart mobile app that allows shoppers to pay via "almost any smartphone" and with "almost any payment type." But the system won't be offered to any other retailers (even those that don't directly compete with Walmart, like, say, McDonalds), so the big blue store is the only place you'll be able to make use of that rather complex system.

To be fair, I'm approaching this from a technology perspective, where inter-operability and ease of use are always desirable. Walmart and its corporate rivals don't particularly care what you or I think - they're probably approaching mobile payments as an extension of their existing services, like those Walmart credit cards that Craig Robinson won't shut up about. So the idea of spending money somewhere that isn't Walmart doesn't really cross their minds. For the sake of completion, I'll mention that the press release says that Walmart is looking into incorporating "other mobile wallets" sometime in the future.

Press Release

BENTONVILLE, Ark.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Walmart knows customers want to save not just money, but also time. Today, the retailer introduced Walmart Pay – a fast, easy and secure way for customers to pay with their smartphones in Walmart stores.

Built with the goal of improving how customers check out and dramatically expanding mobile payment access, Walmart Pay is like no other mobile payments solution available today. With this launch, Walmart becomes the only retailer to offer its own payment solution that works with any iOS or Android device*, at any checkout lane, and with any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift card – all through the Walmart mobile app. The mobile payment feature will be introduced in select stores beginning this month, with a nationwide launch to be complete by the first half of next year.

”The Walmart app was built to make shopping faster and easier,” said Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Walmart Global eCommerce. “Walmart Pay is the latest example – and a powerful addition – of how we are transforming the shopping experience by seamlessly connecting online, mobile and stores for the 140 million customers who shop with us weekly.”

Twenty two million customers actively use the Walmart app each month and it ranks among the top three retail apps in the Google and Apple app stores. The Walmart app enhances the shopping experience in Walmart stores with features including checking in to pick up an online order at a Walmart store, refilling pharmacy prescriptions and finding an item’s store location.

Open, Scan, Done – It’s That Easy

Checkout using Walmart Pay happens in three easy steps:

1. Open: Visit any register, open the Walmart app and choose Walmart Pay. Activate the camera.

2. Scan: At any time during checkout, simply scan the code displayed at the register. Walmart Pay is now connected.

3. Done: Associate scans and bags the items… and it’s done. An eReceipt will be sent to the app and can be viewed at any time.

“The simplicity and ease of Walmart Pay comes not only from how it works, but also in how it’s been built,” said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president, services, Walmart U.S. “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.”

To learn more about Walmart Pay, please visit news.walmart.com.