Direct-selling industry payment-services provider Towah Group Ltd. is expanding its global reach and customers’ options through a partnership with cash payment platform provider ZipZap Inc, the companies announced May 2.

London-based Towah Group serves as the payment gateway for merchants who operate like Avon–selling to customers who sell to and recruit others to sell and recruit. Towah Group processes payments from distributors to the merchants, and with ZipZap it now can offer unbanked or cash-preferred shoppers a way to join a direct-selling group and pay for goods.

With ZipZap, a consumer making an online purchase chooses the cash-payment option, and ZipZap sends a voucher with a number printed on it and the amount of the purchase. The consumer takes the voucher to one of the 700,000 payment centers in the ZipZap network, hands an agent the voucher and cash, and the payment center notifies ZipZap and the merchant of the payment.

Towah Group partnered with San Francisco-based ZipZap because those 700,000 payment centers are worldwide, increasing the opportunities for merchants to attract developing-world distributors who are more likely to be unbanked than are those in more developed countries, Rob MacColl, Towah Group managing director, tells PaymentsSource.

Many distributors get into direct selling for extra money and not for their primary income, he says.

“For our merchants who have a lot of distributors in Brazil who are middle class, this is a killer app,” MacColl says. “It’s all about easy ways to get money from the distributors.”

The deal is the first for ZipZap with the direct-selling industry, Scott Holt, ZipZap chief marketing officer, tells PaymentsSource. Until now, ZipZap worked as a cash-payment option for online merchants and online gaming companies.

ZipZap expanded its payment center network recently with a deal with MoneyGram International (see story).

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