Apriva Wallet Creates Niche For ISOs In Mobile Payments

Apriva LLC plans to launch a mobile wallet next month that could help independent sales organizations and agents stake their claim on part of the mobile-payments market.

ISOs can even put their own names on the offering, Paul Coppinger, president of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Apriva, tells ISO&Agent Weekly.

“It’s designed to be everybody’s brand but our own,” Coppinger says.

Apriva will not charge ISOs for the wallet in the hope that the service will raise card-transaction volume enough through its gateway to compensate for the two years of development work, he says.

ISOs would be free to mark up the transaction fees they charge merchants or perhaps offer the value-added service for free but avoid a rate decrease, Coppinger suggests.

“It’s a retention tool,” he says of the wallet’s supposed value as a tool for preventing merchants from defecting to another ISO or processor.

Unlike the Near Field Communication-equipped smartphone schemes that some are touting as the future of mobile payments, the Apriva offering works on all smartphones and just about all card-accepting terminals, says Coppinger. Some terminals might require reprogramming, he says.

“It works with terminals as they are and payment types as they are,” Coppinger says, noting that NFC works on only some phones and with few terminals.

Using NFC requires an NFC-enable chip in the phone and one in the terminal. Encrypted data, including card information, passes from between the two devices when a shopper waves the phone near the reader.

With the Apriva wallet, consumers still swipe a card, but the smartphone has access to all of the loyalty information that goes automatically in the computing “cloud.” The wallet works with any type of card, including credit, debit and stored-value cards. It keeps track of loyalty points, works as a place to store loyalty offers, and can become a repository for anything from a union card to a driver’s license.

Consumers can get started with the wallet when they visit a store enrolled in the program, he says. The sales associate typically would pitch the wallet at the point of sale, offering a discount for signing up. If the customer accepts, the associate enters the customer’s smartphone number. Customers then receives a text message informing them they are enrolled in the loyalty program for that store.

Any time after that the consumer can pay for something with any enrolled card, and reward points automatically accrue, Coppinger says.

Merchants can make offers anytime through the wallet, and consumers can respond to the offers without returning to the store because their phones are connected to the Internet, Coppinger says.

For ISOs, the advantages of the wallet include reinforcing an agent’s role as a payment consultant, he says.