Stockholm-based Seamless is threading currency exchange into its QR code-based mobile payment platform SEQR.
Individuals who use the SEQR wallet will be able to make payments to merchants in foreign countries. SEQR, pronounced "secure," will automatically convert the user's funds to the proper currency.
SEQR has also begun converting currency for users sending money to people abroad, a type of transaction Seamless has facilitated since the spring.
These new functionalities represent "one more step in becoming a complete financial ecosystem independent from the credit card structure," said Seamless spokesman Jonas Larsson. The services are now available to SEQR's European users, with the U.S. market coming next.
Remittances will be free of charge at first, Larsson said. "We use it instead for market penetration."
Founded in 2001, Seamless launched SEQR in 2012 and has created partnerships with merchants, including McDonald’s and Burger King, as well as payment technology providers like Payzone, to spread globally.
"Each and every market is different, and even the payment methods we assume are the same (e.g. debit cards) usually have subtle but important differences," said Gareth Lodge, a London-based industry analyst with Celent. "Whilst they have impressive volumes (3.7 billion according to their website), I suspect they’re quite clustered to specific stores and countries."
As its name implies, the SEQR wallet operates by scanning QR codes; rival wallets such as Apple Pay instead use Near Field Communication for contactless payments.
"I’m not quite sure how successful the QR or NFC approach will be in the U.K., for example," Lodge said. "Purely as a consumer, QR is rather passé – [I've] not seen a QR for years now, to the point I’ve deleted my QR reader app … simpler solutions such as Apple Pay or just ordinary contactless cards pose a significant challenge."
Contactless payment terminals are widespread in the U.K. and other regions, giving Apple Pay and contactless cards an advantage over systems that require new technology at the point of sale.
"The competition has to be on user experience – or rather, improving on an experience many wouldn’t necessarily consider that bad currently," Lodge said.