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Report: Target is working on app allowing shoppers to pay by phone

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A report on Friday suggests that Target has started work on a "mobile wallet" app that will allow customers to pay for their goods using cellphones.

Citing sources, Reuters claims that the Minneapolis-based retailer is in the process of developing the app which could launch as early as next year, and would mean customers won't need to pay by cash, card or checks at the register.

The news organization says Target has been partnering with credit card companies to develop the system, which it said would make it a "powerful new competitor in a small, crowded market," rivaling Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

No testing in-store has been conducted yet, but Fortune points out it follows hot on the heels of its major rival Wal-Mart launching an option on its app that allows store customers to pay using their cellphones.

Although take-up has been slow among customers and merchants, Fortune said expectations for the mobile payments market in the future are huge, with studies showing they are expected to handle $142 billion in transactions by 2019.

Fortune notes Target's mobile wallet is likely to be similar in style to Wal-Mart's and Starbucks', with users uploading a credit card number into the app, which then creates a unique barcode that can be scanned at cash registers.

TechCrunch reports that Target and Wal-Mart are currently members of a retailer-backed consortium that is attempting to launch a collaborative mobile wallet app called CurrentC, but this has been criticized for being "clunky" compared to rival products from Apple and Google.

The website says Target could instead be putting faith in itself to replicate the success with technology it has been having recently, noting that its coupon app Cartwheel is currently a top 10 on the App Store, and is used heavily by Target customers.

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