Santander's Polish subsidiary is linking its mobile banking app to a merchant marketplace where purchases of deliveries, flowers and transit fare can be funded directly from the user's bank account.
Called BZWBK24, Bank Zachodni WBK's mobile banking app allows users in Poland to order products from merchants listed within the app. The bank plans to support purchases of flights, hotel stays, movie tickets, taxi rides and takeout food in the near future. There's an option to use bank accounts to make payments, which would avoid card payments and interchange fees.
"Money is being transferred from the bank's customer account directly to the merchant account, bypassing the middleman and interchange fee," says Tomasz Krajewski, head of mobile commerce at eLeader, the vendor powering the Santander subsidiary's mobile app.
Santander, which announced the app on April 14, did not provide an executive for an interview by deadline and did not disclose the fee structure for its non-card mobile payment service.
ELeader, a Lublin, Poland-based smartphone technology company, built the "SuperWallet" app that carries the Santander subsidiary's brand.
"The bank in fact becomes the gateway to commerce by creating a new sales channel for merchants who use the bank's considerable marketing power," Krajewski says. "The bank also profits from merchant sales."
Purchases on the SuperWallet are made with a single in app-click, and the user's financial data is protected by the bank. Banks have an advantage over other mobile wallet providers since their mobile banking app is already installed on the consumer's phone, Krajewski says.
Santander did not disclose plans for other markets, though Poland's strict regulatory environment should facilitate international expansion, Krajewski says.
"The solution can be easily implemented in other countries. It already meets most of the necessary foreign standards," Krajewski says.
There's also momentum in Poland for payment schemes that rely on funding from bank account instead of credit cards. Bank Zachodni WBK is one of six banks working on a national standard that would make it easier to offer mobile payments without the involvement of cards.
"Poland is a very innovative market in payments, from being one of the leading markets on contactless point of sale penetration to working on solutions for payments directly from a bank account," says Zil Bareisis, a senior analyst at Celent.
Many mobile wallet and mobile point of sale providers are trying to reduce or offset interchange fees by supporting cheaper funding methods such as bank accounts, PayPal, Dwolla and Bitcoin.
"The big question is whether customers are prepared to view their banks as online malls where they do shopping across a broad range of retailers," Bareisis says. "What can such a bank mall bring over and above individual merchant sites, such as merchant discovery, single sign on, etc. It might work for small local merchants, but it is more difficult to imagine a customer going to Amazon via her bank."