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Visitors try out the latest smartphones at the Microsoft stand on the first day of the CeBIT 2012 technology trade fair on March 6, 2012 in Hanover, Germany. - 

Jeff Horwich: Remember when every store was pestering you to sign you up for a credit card, so you would shop there more? Now, it seems like every store wants to get their smartphone app. We've got news this morning that a group of major retailers, including Walmart, Target and 7-Eleven, are teaming up to create their own network for mobile payments. It's one more way for stores to draw you closer -- and get a jump on outsiders, like Google.

Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore reports.

Heidi Moore: Steve Ledford, a consultant at the research firm Novantas, is a self-described mobile-payments geek. He has a lot of apps designed to make his phone into a virtual debit card.

Steve Ledford: I have every new payment system that comes along. I try it out.

He’s going to have to find more space somewhere. It seems like every major company wants in. There’s Google Wallet, of course, and Starbucks just signed a deal with Square so you can buy a latte just by saying your name.

Now 14 retailers including Walmart and Target are working on their system. But they have more than mobile payments on their minds.

Ledford: The ones I like to watch are the folks who are talking about changing the shopping experience.

Ledford says these companies love a captive audience. If you’re looking at their app on your phone, you can get little pings to remind you buy more stuff from them.

Ledford: If you go on any street or subway or airport lobby, people are always looking at their phones. So it’s not a bad way of getting to folks.

The field is crowded, but there’s one company that hasn’t done anything yet: Apple. And when they do, that might change everything.

In New York, I’m Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

Follow Heidi N. Moore at @moorehn