There’s little question that the way we pay is changing: Starbucks Card Mobile is a bonafide hit, PayPal predicts that the end of the wallet is nigh, mobile money transactions are expected to to reach $670 billion by 2015, and it’s believed that more than 80% of point-of-sale systems will accept mobile payments by 2016.
Does an unknown upstart stand a chance with Google, credit card companies, PayPal and Square all vying for market share? Santa Monica-based mobile payments startup Kuapay is now ramping up operations; it believes it can win over merchants and consumers now — as opposed to waiting for NFC-enabled devices to catch on — with what it sees as the simplest mobile pay system yet.
“The mobile payments world is going to move faster if we create products that are easier for users,” says Kuapay founder Joaquin Ayuso, who previously sold Spanish social networking site Tuenti to Telefónica. “The virtualization of the wallet is a path the market wants to take. We are in a place to expose that market to users faster.”
Kuapay has iPhone, BlackBerry and Android applications for consumers. Users can add their credit card information and then present participating merchants with a QR code to scan and pay at the register. It functions fairly similar to Starbucks’ 2D barcode-scanning system.
The mobile application is meant to be a “real,” and secure, virtual wallet that lowers the barrier for consumer and merchant participation, Ayuso says.
In addition to managing payments, the app saves the user’s transaction history, encrypts card data, requires the user set a PIN number for access, keeps track of loyalty program points and rewards, and supports discounts and offers.
The solution is also meant to be accessible to merchants, Ayuso insists, because it doesn’t require them to purchase additional hardware. Merchants need only upgrade their existing point-of-sale software to begin accepting Kuapay payments. The startup, Ayuso says, has relationships with all the major POS providers to make the upgrade process fairly automatic.
Kuapay, which has raised $900,000 in seed funding, is currently beta testing its mobile payment system at select locations in Santa Monica, and abroad in Chile and Spain. It plans to launch publicly in the fourth quarter of this year.
by Jennifer Van Grove, mashable.com