Seamless is aggressively pushing the reach of its SEQR wallet through global partnerships designed to make the app available at millions of merchant locations, enable technology-agnostic transactions, and pry more retailers away from bank issued cards.
Last week Seamless announced a collaboration with Mastercard to integrate Masterpass into the SEQR wallet. The rollout is expected to commence in the second quarter, and would put make SEQR a possibility at more than 340,000 merchants at 6 million locations globally, a network that benefits from Mastercard's easier enrollment navigation.
Seamless is also adding more payment options to feed SEQR's attempt to serve as a bank alternative, said Peter Fredell, CEO of the Stockholm-based Seamless.
"There really is no bank. We're the issuer," Fredell said.
SEQR uses ACH in the U.S., other digital transfer rails in Europe, and a partnership with the U.K.'s national transfer system to allow bank-agnostic link for contactless payments in the U.K. It discounts transaction interchange fees, relying instead on advertising revenue and merchant setup fees, offering what Fredell calls a virtual decoupled debit card.
By adding Masterpass, SEQR hopes to attract more consumers outside of its Scandinavian base. It's also providing a service that's similar to the new technology plays that are designed to make it easier for Chinese travelers to shop outside of their home country. In addition to the Masterpass merchant boost, Seamless previously added cross-border payments and digital currency exchange to encourage international payments and transaction acceptance for travelers outside of Sweden.
With the Mastercard support, SEQR will offer a digital wallet that includes Host Card Emulation (HCE), a software-based alternative to NFC, as well as e-commerce portal and in-app 'buy buttons,' alongside its existing technology. Seamless already supports QR codes and NFC.
The mix of options is meant to appeal to a diverse range of countries and merchants, but it also
"We want consumers to be able to shop anywhere geographically, as well as in apps and in stores," Fredell said, calling SEQR a "converged wallet."
The most interesting part of the Masterpass/Seamless collaboration is the mix of technology types, making SEQR similar to Chase Pay in its approach, according to Tim Sloane, vice president of payments innovation at Mercator Advisory Group.
"This indicates that Mastercard now supports an app that can make in-store payments on Apple and Android via bar code and NFC," Sloane said, adding Mastercard is supporting a mobile wallet that could weaken Apple Pay, "in theory." Mastercard did not return a request for comment by deadline.
SEQR will still be challenged to add merchants because the full value for stores comes from participating in Seamless' loyalty program, according to Sloane.
"The loyalty program may be a positive for small stores that have yet to implement loyalty, but for stores that have a loyalty program already operating, a switch is very difficult," Sloane said.