Mar 8 , 2010

Zoompass trials contactless payments stickers

By Robin Arnfield, News Editor

TORONTO--EnStream, an m-payments joint venture between three Canadian wireless carriers, has announced a three-month trial of a sticker that turns cellphones into contactless payment devices. In the week since the trial was launched on March 3, 2010, around 200 consumers have signed up, along with retailers such as PetroCanada and McDonalds.

The Zoompass Tag sticker, which uses MasterCard’s PayPass contactless technology, was developed by Germany’s Giesecke & Devrient. It measures 43 mm by 33 mm and can be attached to any cellphone. To make purchases, consumers tap their phones against PayPass-enabled point-of-sale terminals.

The stickers are being issued to Canadian consumers who have downloaded EnStream’s Zoompass mobile person-to-person payments app.

Launched in June 2009, Zoompass allows consumers to set up a stored-value account linked to their cellphone and send and receive money from other people. Recipients get a text message saying they have been sent some money, and are given instructions on setting up a Zoompass account if they don’t already have one. Senders pre-fund their Zoompass accounts from their credit cards or their bank accounts.

Zoompass is supported by 60 devices, including BlackBerry, iPhone and Android smartphones, plus all the cellphones issued by Enstream’s owners, Telus, Bell Mobility, and Rogers Communications.

To use the Zoompass Tag, consumers need a Zoompass MasterCard prepaid card, which is issued on behalf of EnStream by People’s Trust. This card is linked to their Zoompass account, enabling payments for point-of-sale purchases to be debited from the account.

“The sticker trial is designed to get people used to the idea of using their cellphones for payments,” Christian Ali, vice-president, product development, at EnStream, says. “They can leave home with just their keys and their cellphone, without needing to carry cards or cash.”

When consumers use the sticker to make a purchase, their phone displays information on the transaction in near-real-time. “This helps with budgeting as your phone will display all your purchases using the sticker,” Ali says.

Rob Burbach, a senior analyst at consultancy firm Financial Insights, says the significant aspect is not the sticker announcement, but the fact that all Blackberry devices issued by Telus and Bell now come preloaded with the Zoompass app. “Other firms already have contactless sticker initiatives,” he notes.

In November 2009, MasterCard, Bank of Montreal, and Research in Motion (RIM) teamed up to put PayPass-enabled stickers on Blackberrys in a four-month trial.

“Zoompass will get more traction once it is available as a core app on users’ devices, without them having to download it,” Burbach says. “I think Zoompass will help to make m-payments more ubiquitous in Canada.”

“We see EnStream as a business enabler, helping the payments industry to achieve standards for m-payment platforms in Canada,” Ali says. “ Canada’s a great market to develop m-payments in, as there are only five big banks, three main wireless carriers, and a limited number of acquirers.”



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