Welcome to Walmart: Canadian Walmarts, Visa Reach Deal

January 10, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Some time back, starting in July and then spreading to October, there was friction between Walmart and Visa in Canada, sufficient friction to call for Walmart to pull the plug on Visa operations in Canadian Walmart operations.

That’s all changed, though, and now the two have patched their differences and brought Visa back to Walmart everywhere.

The issue that shut down Visa at Walmart stemmed from credit card fees; Walmart wanted lower transaction fees from Visa, and Visa wasn’t budging. It’s not immediately clear if Visa blinked or Walmart did as specifics of the deal weren’t disclosed; either side might have and there was evidence to support same.

Perhaps the biggest point was a study from Walmart customers, who noted that they sympathized with Walmart, but didn’t believe that they—the customers—would actually see any lower prices if Walmart got what it wanted.

This made the sympathy somewhat limited, and given that customers basically adjusted payment methods in mid-stream, the impact was comparatively limited to Walmart. Yet at the same time, customers made it fairly clear that a prolonged loss of Visa might well shift their business around to other stores, which made it possible that Walmart pulled in its horns a bit.

While we don’t know just which side blinked, or if both sides decided to wink instead and come to something mutually satisfactory, we do know there was likely quite a bit at stake here. With so much business being done through Walmart—and by extension through Visa cards and payment mechanisms being used therein—it was a safe bet that neither side was particularly interested in losing ground. Walmart is used to using its market clout as a bludgeon to get better deals, but it’s unclear just how far it could have gone with Visa.

Still, in the end, both sides managed to reach at least some conclusion. With mobile payment systems from cards to software proving increasingly popular with users, losing an option isn’t conducive to keeping business. That might have been enough for even Walmart to think twice about belligerence, and be a bit more willing to deal.