The recent mobile wallet launches by Apple, Samsung, and Google have dominated discussion of the mobile payments market, but these three are far from the only players operating in the space.
I recently interviewed Seamless CEO Peter Fredell concerning the company’s SEQR product, one of the mobile wallets that launched before Apple Pay.
Could you give me a bit of background on Seamless?
We have a long history. The company is 15 years old, and our legacy business is the building and selling of a ‘transaction switch’. We’re a payments network, at heart. In 2006, I invested in Seamless (when they had their IPO), because I saw the potential to build a mobile payment system around its existing software. Seven years later, we launched SEQR. Now the wallet is present in 12 countries, with 600,000 active users.
The mobile wallet space is very crowded right now, especially with big names like Apple Pay moving in. What sets SEQR apart from the pack?
Lots of things, really. One of the big differentiators is that Seamless knows the payments business inside out. Our core business is payments, and we’ve been building up our network for almost a decade. Most mobile payments companies aren’t payments businesses at all – they’re middlemen; software providers. All Apple Pay really offers is the ability to store a payment card on an iPhone. There’s not much that’s new there.
SEQR has a lot of use cases: P2P transfers, in-store payments, online payments, even international money transfers. It’s capable of working via NFC or QR codes, and the QR code functionality lets it do a lot of interesting things that can’t be duplicated by NFC-based services. The best example is probably the ability to set up a QR code on a printed or online advertisement that allows for ‘one click’ purchases to be made directly from the ad. Using the MyShop feature, anyone can generate QR codes using the service and post them anywhere online. It can turn Facebook into an online classified network.
Who would you say was your biggest competition?
Apple Pay is certainly a competitor worth taking note of. It has a big brand and is leveraging it well, but it’s completely reliant on the card networks and on banks agreeing to pay it a fee for every transaction, and those margins are stretched tight already. All mobile payments providers are, to some extent, our competition, but we’re looking a bit further than that. We see our product as an alternative to the card networks, so our competition would be Visa and MasterCard.
Because SEQR operates its own payment network and is completely self-contained, and doesn’t involve payment cards in any way, it can offer much lower processing costs to merchants. This gives us a big edge on cards – merchants in general aren’t fans of the fees they have to pay under the Visa/MasterCard duopoly. Our only limit is the size of the network, and we’re working hard on expanding so we can be in a position to challenge the dominance of cards in electronic payments.
Where do you see Seamless and SEQR in 5-10 years’ time?
Currently, we’ve got 600,000 active users in 12 countries, and we’re continuing to build up SEQR’s reach and functionality as a proof-of-concept. We don’t think we’ll be replacing cards any time soon, and we don’t think there will be any one winner in mobile payments. Yet, we see SEQR as a strong contender, and part of the leading edge of a challenge to the card schemes.
– This article is reproduced with kind permission from Verdict Financial. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here.