“Ah NFC,” nods David Pipe, marketing director for ZNAP, shrugging his shoulder as he considers a question on the popularity of Near-Field Communications. “NFC nowadays essentially stands for ‘Nobody f***ng cares’. If all a company does is facilitate mobile payments, consumers will say ‘so what?’”
“A lot of our competitors with mobile payment technologies say that you can leave your wallet at home. But there are a lot of different things in my wallet apart from money. Credit cards, loyalty cards, etc.” You can’t declare the humble wallet obsolete, he argues, if you’re not providing modern alternatives to all that it contains.
This is where MPayMe's app comes in. “ZNAP can be paired with all these things,” he claims. It is not just an app that provides an alternative way for customers to pay for their coffees, but a way to securely map their entire financial lives, using their phones for everything from paying bills to using vouchers and loyalty cards.
The lack of mobile payment solutions offering the flexibility of ZNAP is one of the reasons that Pipe believes mobile payment technologies haven’t yet taken off. According to Pipe, ZNAP is the only secure mobile payment solution that simplifies all aspects of today’s payments and streamlines them into one consistent user experience.
“I grew up in Silicon Valley so I had a front row seat for the PC and online revolution. It’s fascinating to me now to talk to merchants in numerous industries and discover that out of all the problems they face, virtually none of them are to do with payments. They’re to do with loyalty, targeting customers, generating vouchers.”
Retailers’ suspicion on the usefulness of mobile payments is evident in the fact that only seven and a 0.5 per cent of all Oxford Street stores have mobile payment solutions. But Pipe argues the lack of interest in mobile commerce is largely down to a sizeable gap in the market that developers have not yet seized upon.
“A lot of players in the industry are taking a step back and requiring merchants to add new hardware, whether it’s dongles or scanners – and merchants are very suspicious because they don’t want to invest money in a technology for their shops when so many people are competing with different products and the merchants don’t know who’s going to win the race.”
So if technology has cracked making mobile payments streamlined and secure, Pipe believes that the next step forward will be to provide a service that creates value-added solutions that benefit both business and consumer.
A part of this is vouchers. For example, “super markets are often a conduit to push brands over other brands” he says. “So if I’m Kelloggs, I can go to a supermarket and that supermarket can use brands to push a new brand of cereal by cross selling and upselling.”
“ZNAP allows supermarkets to get information, special offers and coupons to consumers that’s relevant and up to date.” Essentially, by collecting information on buyer’s spending habits, Merchants can distribute targeted offers directly tailored to the customer, and consumers will benefit by only receiving useful offers relevant to them.
So what is the future of mobile payment? Pipe looks thoughtful, then asserts: “I believe that in my lifetime my wallets and my debit cards will be obsolete. Banks will cease to have to print credit cards and loyalty cards. It’s hard to say when, but I hope these kinds of things will be ubiquitous in 10-15 years.”