Payair's technology supports many mobile-payment methods, but the Swedish company is promoting only the most straightforward forms through its integration with Cash IT.

Payair's work with Cash IT's point of sale systems to allow merchants to offer mobile payments, marketing and loyalty programs with a system based on QR codes, making mobile-payment acceptance possible for Cash IT's merchant clients without extra hardware.

"Merchants can accept mobile payments with no upgrade at all, no hardware whatsoever, it's a simplified way to build mobile payments," says Kristian Hovden, vice president of sales for Payair.

Payair also supports Near Field Communication, but the company is more heavily promoting the use of QR codes because the technology is faster to deploy. In this way, it also resembles U.S.-based PayPal and LevelUp, both of which support NFC but downplay the feature.

Retailers do not commonly integrate QR code-based mobile payments directly with POS terminals, but the practice should gain traction given the simplicity of deployment, says Andy Schmidt, a research director at CEB TowerGroup.

"It works with any smartphone, so the benefit here is you don't have to have a special handset or a special case for your handset to interact with this type of service," Schmidt says. "The fact that it's free of charge for consumers is important because that speeds adoption."

The Payair mobile shopping app works with iOS, Blackberry, Windows and Android mobile operating systems. Consumers download the app, register any Visa and MasterCard products they have, and then use the cards to make payments at retailers that use Cash IT point of sale systems.

To execute payments, consumers use a "buy" button when browsing on the web or mobile phone, or scan a QR code that initiates the Payair service on their smartphone. That scan authenticates the user, and can be used to execute self-checkout and payment by invoice, debit or credit card.

The Payair/Cash IT integration will start in Sweden, but Payair plans to expand to other markets, including North America.

Merchants show a preference for Web-based mobile payments. The Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX)—a consortium including Wal-Mart, Dunkin Donuts, Lowe's and Gap—is developing a mobile wallet that uses a cloud-based system. PayPal also uses a cloud-based system for point of sale payments.

Bank of America is testing QR-code payments, though the bank does not have preference between QR codes and NFC, a representative says.

Isis, a mobile wallet venture led by mobile carriers, favors NFC, but it also offers a plastic card for merchants that cannot handle NFC payments.

Payair's open-network approach, which does not rely on a specific card or merchant, should prove popular with consumers, Schmidt says. However, merchants typically prefer branded closed-loop loyalty cards.

"In part the retailer wants to own the customer relationship and they own the customer through loyalty programs that can be delivered though the mobile app," Schmidt says.

An open-loop payment system tied into mobile marketing "allows merchants to capture more market share than a closed loop card would," Schmidt says. 

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