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Walmart goes head-to head with Amazon, looks to scoop up PillPack

The big box retail is likely to clash with Amazon in pursuit of online pharmacy startup PillPack

Walmart storefront
Walmart, which runs about 4,700 US pharmacies, has ambitions to expand its health care business

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is in early talks about a deal to acquire online pharmacy startup PillPack, which delivers medications to tens of thousands of customers in the United States.

CNBC first reported the talks Monday, and said the price being discussed was less than US$1bln. It’s not clear if the talks will materialise in a deal as there are plenty of suitors for PillPack, including Walmart’s ecommerce rival Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq:AMZN).

PillPack doesn’t just fill prescriptions, it also helps patients and seniors manage their medications by pre-sorting pills into date and time-stamped packets, automatically delivering refills to their homes. Seniors are a key demographic for Walmart, which runs about 4,700 U.S. pharmacies and has major ambitions of expanding its health care business.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that Walmart was also discussing a closer partnership or merger with insurer Humana (NYSE:HUM).

READ: Amazon.com expands offer of sharply discounted Prime membership to Medicaid recipients

Amazon and Walmart are beginning to compete in a growing number of areas and their rivalry has intensified, putting pressure on the big box chain. Amazon is said to be working on its own prescription delivery service, after launching a line of over-the-counter health products like allergy treatments.

Walmart has stolen the march on Amazon in the payments arena at least by launching a global money transfer service Walmart2World in partnership with MoneyGram International. 

"We probably really underestimated the impact we could really make in this business, which hasn't seen a ton of innovation for a long time," Kirsty Ward, the vice president of Walmart Services, told CNBC.

The move expands on the firm’s four-year-old domestic money service, known as Walmart2Walmart. The US platform allows customers to transfer funds between Walmart locations sending as much as $2,500 at a time. 

Quick facts: Walmart Inc

Price: 148.91 USD

Market: NYSE
Market Cap: $421.31 billion

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