Mocapay introduces SMS gift and loyalty system, plans move to NFC

The US startup’s closed loop payments and marketing technology has been integrated with Verifone transaction terminals and will migrate to NFC later.

MOBILE PLATFORM: Mocapay's closed-loop payments system, now in beta, will migrate to NFC
MOBILE PLATFORM: Mocapay's closed-loop payments system, now in beta, will migrate to NFC

A mobile platform from US startup Mocapay provides merchants with the ability to mobile-enable existing closed loop prepaid, gift and loyalty programs. Currently the system uses text messages but the company has plans to migrate its solution to NFC in the future.

With Mocapay, cardholders can transact at the point-of-sale, access their account balance and transaction history, find the nearest location and reload their account. In addition Mocapay gives retailers the tools to send targeted one-to-one marketing messages to their customers.

Mocapay says its solution can be integrated with any point-of-sale system. For its unveiling at the National Retail Federation convention in New York earlier this month, however, it was on show running on Verifone’s MX800 series terminals.

“We’re very excited about the potential for mobile payments and Mocapay’s innovative approach,” said Jeff Wakefield, vice president of marketing at Verifone. “Mocapay’s mobile payments solution demonstrates the flexibility of the MX800 Series architecture and its suitability for value-added applications.”

As well as text messaging, Mocapay “also supports a bar code payment system that can work with some point of sale terminals, and will eventually support NFC,” chief executive Kevin Grieve told American Banker:

The system is designed to work with existing payment accounts, so merchants do need not to deploy new gift or loyalty cards to begin using Mocapay. Nor do they have to stop selling plastic cards if consumers want to use both the phone and the card to access the same account.

The Mocapay system makes it possible for users to register a prepaid card account through their mobile phones, and then access the account with their phones to check their balances. Any mobile phone with a browser can produce a bar code image that can be read by some terminals; people can also use text messaging to request a one-time-use text code that can be punched into a keypad or read aloud to a cashier to authorize a debit to the prepaid account.

Mr Grieve said some terminals already include the readers needed to scan the bar code images on a phone for payment, and others can offer the capability through add-on hardware.

He said he expects the bar code system to eventually become more popular than either of the two text message systems, but he does not expect that change to occur overnight. “You have a very long time before that base gets changed, and so that’s why we offer the four different methods,” he said.

The text message codes expire in 30 minutes or when they are used. Mr Grieve said the code could even be shouted across a store without compromising the card account’s security, since it can only be used to initiate a single transaction.

Mocapay’s system was tested in 2007 with about 200 Boulder merchants. When that test was completed, the company focused on integrating the payment system with merchants’ gift card programs.

Its first customer, J.A.D. Inc.’s ShortStop Stop convenience store chain, began offering Mocapay’s payment technology to customers in November.

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