A new idea for kickstarting the QR code payment habit: the gas bill

The idea of using a barcode to speed up payments is hardly new. Lots of firms are having a go.

Currently, MPayMe is making a lot of noise, while Square, PayPal and Starbucks have all incorporated the basic tech into their payment apps.

You can see why.

In a retail setting, a scan takes seconds compared with (potentially) minutes queuing to be served. Or, if the payment is online, it’s speedy compared with entering card details.

But still, these services have yet to enter the mainstream.

New UK start-up Zapper thinks it has a better plan: print a barcode on a utility bill.

Here’s how it works. The consumer scans the code with their phone. The first time, they are prompted to download the Zapper app and register multiple card details (they can do this with a photo scan).

Thereafter they can pay with a single snap (card details are logged in the phone, not the cloud).

Zapper thinks this a consumer at home is more likely to engage with the concept. Bradley Duke, UK MD of Zapper, said: “In shops and restaurants people can have connection issues and they don’t want to scrabble about looking for cards to enter. At home, people are more relaxed, and more prepared to sign up.”

Duke reckons the utilities are an ideal target market, as barcode scanning can save them money as well as offer convenience to users.

He said: “The alternative is some kind of online portal for payment, which requires a login and a password. And it carries all the security risks around capturing people’s card details. Or there’s a call centre, which is costly. Or cheques, which have to be posted.”

Once a business has signed up for Zapper, the system will generate a unique barcode that can be added to invoices.

In ‘static mode’, end users will be required to enter the amount. In ‘dynamic mode’ the sum will be embedded in the code.

In some cases, Zapper can even generate the entire invoice for the client.

When Zapper handles the payment processing, the fee is 2.7 per cent +£0.20 (0,25€) per successful payment. There are no monthly costs or setup fees.

For large businesses that use an existing partner for payment processing, Zapper charges a small flat-fee per invoice and possibly a fee for integrating with the payment processor.

The firm is only a few weeks into launch, and Duke declined to reveal how many businesses have signed up.

He says the firm will also target small traders and charities – which will bring it into competition with other services such as mPOS card readers, PingIt et al.

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