“Zapp will Replace Debit Cards, Cash and Cheque”

Zapp, a mobile payments provider set to launch early 2014, has today announced a huge scalp for its platform, poaching Ian Sayers, a chief architect of the Barclays PingIt service, before the product has even made it to market.

The company’s first target customers are banks themselves, with announcements to be made in September of its launch partners, slated as two leaders in the banking sector. And with an investment from Vocalink, the company that runs BACS, direct debit and the ATM link network, and is owned by 18 banks and building societies including Barclays, RBS, Lloyds, HSBC and Santander, it looks a little like Zapp can’t lose.

“We believe that Zapp will replace debit card transactions, cash and cheque payments,” said Justin Basini, Zapp’s CMO. “Being able to supply services to the banks puts Zapp into a good position, although nothing is guaranteed, to get scale relatively quickly.”

The Zapp-branded button will first be visible within an area of the chosen banks’ apps and when buying something online, the shopper can choose to pay with Zapp, which then initiates the transaction within the app. Basini believes that initially being able to make Zapp payments with your bank will ensure consumers start to trust the name and will drive adoption elsewhere. He said conversations with retailers and merchant-acquirers are also going well.

No P2P

Unlike Barclay’s PingIt, the service doesn’t work with the payee’s phone number, so if the solution gets taken up by your local plumber or high street stores in the future, QR codes, an NFC swipe or a receipt/PIN combo will need to be part of the payment process. Peer-to-peer has also been deliberately omitted, Basini told Mobile Marketing, to make way for the standard P2P mobile payments system on the way from the Payments Council.

Security is always a key issue when it comes to payments, and Basini says that because Zapp has been built mobile-first, with standard online ‘request to pay’ technology, their system has an inherant advantage. Request to pay creates a time-limited, unique code for each transaction, meaning retailers dont hold any banking details and the codes are useless to fraudsters.

Secure and open

He says the Zapp system is also inherently open, unlike something like PingIt, as the brand and system will be transferable across banks, retailers and acquirers. “It’s our belief that we want to create an open payment ecosystem that everyone can benefit from.

“There are going to be lots of innovations in mobile payments over the next couple of years – of course Zapp is just one of them – but the model we’ve created here has a very good chance of having a real impact,” he said.