Zoompass, a mobile payment service launched last year by a consortium of Canadian telecom players, is branching out with the introduction of a wireless payment sticker that can be attached to a mobile phone, effectively turning it into a “tap-and-pay” debit card system. Zoompass was developed by EnStream, a partnership among Canada’s three major telecom companies: Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus Corp. The service allows members to send money to friends or family with their handheld device via an iPhone app, BlackBerry app, etc., and to pay for products and services through a credit card linked to their Zoompass account.
Now, the service has launched a sticker that attaches to a phone or other handheld device and works as a “contactless payment tag.” The sticker can be scanned by any mobile payment system that supports it, including many that are already in use across Canada at coffee shops, gas stations and other retail locations. Both Mastercard and Visa have also been doing trials of special credit cards that allows for contactless payment, which involves waving the card near a payment terminal rather than having to insert or swipe it through a slot.
Will users want to stick something to the back of their iPhone or BlackBerry that lets them swipe and pay for things? A short video of the device in action (embedded below) makes it look relatively inconspicuous, but the reality is that you’re still sticking something to your phone, and it has to be thick enough to transmit a wireless signal. It remains to be seen how willing users are to do this, and whether they will trust the consortium to handle access to their bank and/or credit card accounts.
That said, however, Zoompass probably has a better chance of making contactless payment work than some other startups that have tried to do so — including one that also involved Bell Mobility and Telus. The two carriers partnered with two of Canada’s major banks (TD Canada Trust and National Bank) to launch a tag-based payment system called Dexit in Toronto in 2001, installing payment terminals in various coffee shops and other locations, but the service never took off and has since been shut down. That system used a separate keychain-style fob that users had to carry, however, while the Zoompass system uses a device that everyone already carries with them.
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