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Major retailers team up for mobile payment plan

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.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.

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