Hong Kong-based MPayMe has every intention of taking its Znap mobile commerce app to the U.S., but doesn't want to be categorized as just another mobile payments option.
"Payments are not broken nobody is asking how to pay for something," says David Pipe, chief marketing officer for MPayMe. "But problems exist in other areas related to payments."
Some of those problems, Pipe says, occur when merchants lose money by sending coupons targeted to the wrong audiences, or when consumers duplicate paper coupons for extra discounts.
As such, MPayMe views Znap as a "mobile business platform" that allows merchants a clearer view of their customers and allows them to escape the "one size fits all coupon models," Pipe says.
MPayMe, which began operations in 2010, has a North American headquarters in New York. The company is launching in Indonesia, China, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland, and plans to be established in the U.S. before the end of the year.
"We will have some news regarding deals with U.S. retailers very soon," Pipe says.
For the consumer, Znap's technology supports mobile payments through the use of QR codes. It also lets consumers manage bank accounts, loyalty cards, coupons and bill payments.
Znap users can scan the QR code on any item and pay using any of the cards or accounts loaded on their Znap profile by entering their PIN.
The cloud-based system allows merchants to participate without extra infrastructure or hardware. In addition, Znap operates across all channels, giving merchants a "single view" of their customer for targeted marketing, Pipe says.
MPayMe does not white-label its app for merchants, but will co-brand Znap with a merchant's existing app, Pipe says.
"If we are working with a fast-food chain, we would incorporate Znap into their app so that when the customer hits the pay button, all of the functionality of Znap comes into play," Pipe says.
Merchants using Znap can create their own QR codes through a website, and the codes can integrate with the point-of-sale terminal or be static. In this way, the merchant could simply enter the price at the terminal to initiate a transaction, Pipe adds.
Merchants can monitor a customer's purchase history or demographics through the app, then send coupons or offers specific to those customers. They can also send messages or discounts through text messages when the customer enters a store.
Znap is available on iPhones, Android devices, Windows and Blackberry.
"What really differentiates us is that the application and the QR codes work in any area, speaking the same language, so to speak," Pipe says. "We offer ubiquity, the same as Visa and MasterCard."
Companies that can bring payments and marketing together are likely to hit the "sweet spot" that most merchants are seeking, says Adil Moussa, payments strategic marketing analyst at Omaha-based Adil Consulting
"Payments are a pathway to get into mobile commerce, but payments don't always have to be there" for a merchant to find a marketing product beneficial, Moussa says.
Znap has a good business model in that it is not directly competing with Visa and MasterCard, but rather providing a platform for more transactions, Moussa adds.
The Znap model has some similarities to what the retailer-driven Merchant Customer Exchange has been developing for its mobile commerce initiative.
MPayMe has talked from "time to time" with MCX and others, but continues to position itself as an independent, global organization, Pipe says.
Mostly, the company is focusing on steering merchants and consumers to a technology they are familiar with, he says.
"The merchant doesn't have to buy or upgrade to a Near Field Communication reader," Pipe says. "We like to say we enable merchants and consumers to use what they already have."
The only technology requirements are Wi-Fi and 3G or 4G networks, he adds.
MPayMe has established deals with payment processors and acquirers in sharing a portion of merchant interchange, and acquiring it in bulk, so that no additional fees fall on the merchants using Znap, Pipe says.