Supermarkets sign up to Zapp mobile payments service
Sainsbury's, Asda, House of Fraser and Shop Direct – which includes Very.co.uk, Littlewoods, Isme, Woolworths.co.uk and the K&Co brands – have signed up to a mobile payment system that will allow customers to pay for goods in store and online using their smartphones.
Zapp, due to launch in 2015, enables retailers to offer a secure, quick and simple way for their customers to pay for goods using just their mobile device, a mobile phone app and their existing bank account - so there is no need for cash or cards.
With this payment system, consumers don't need to remember long card numbers, user names and passwords. The payment between bank and retailer is instant, but consumers will be able to see their account balance at the checkout – to make sure they have enough money to fund their purchases.
Zapp payments work through secure digital 'tokens', which mean customers do not reveal any of their financial details – including their bank account – to retailers when they are shopping. They will be protected in a similar way to debit card payments, so if goods are not delivered or there is an issue with a payment, consumers will be covered.
Other major companies partnering with Zapp from 2015 include Thomas Cook, Clarks, Dune, Spar, Best Western, Starstock, QD Stores, Anglian Water, Bristol & Wessex Water and Sutton and East Surrey Water.
Five banks - HSBC, First Direct, Nationwide, Santander and Metro Bank – have already signed up to Zapp, along with Oxfam and the Charities Aid Foundation in the charity sector.
Zapp is currently working with banks and retailers to integrate the technology into their systems. Pilots are now being planned ahead of a launch of Zapp in the first half of 2015.
Peter Keenan, chief executive of Zapp, said: "Today is a hugely significant milestone in the history of money in the UK. At last the promise of a truly mobile and digital payment method will become a reality, meaning easier and more secure checkouts for millions."
According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research, 20 million adults will use their mobiles to pay for goods and services by the end of the decade. But that has led to consumer confusion, not helped by the recent launch of an alternative mobile payment technology, called Paym.
Zapp and Paym are distinctly different, managed by separate organisations and designed to do different things. Zapp is focused on mobile payments between the bank accounts of consumers and merchants, whilst Paym is focused on person-to-person payments via a mobile phone number.
Issued by a bank as part of a current account and, in a nutshell, serves as electronic cash. Unlike a credit or charge card, where you get an interest-free period before you have to settle the bill, the funds spent on a debit card are withdrawn immediately from your current account. Unless you’ve arranged an overdraft, if you don’t have the cash in the account, you can’t spend it.