Rogers, Bell and Telus unveil Zoompass

Canada’s three major telecos have launched a new payment service that enables person-to-person money transfer via mobile smart phones.

The new service, Zoompass, will be operated by Toronto-based mobile solutions provider EnStream LP, a joint venture between Rogers Communications, Telus Corp. and Bell Canada Enterprises.

Zoompass users will be able to send, request and receive money via their smart phones or using a branded MasterCard chip-and-PIN credit card. The service, which also allows users to send and receive money from their personal bank accounts, is available as an application on iPhone, BlackBerry and Java-based devices, with other mobile users able to access their accounts online via mobile browsing.

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While initially focused on the consumer market, EnStream president Robin Dua said the service could have applicability for both small businesses and large enterprises.

“Small businesses that don’t accept credit cards because of the fees involved can use this to accept payments,” he said.

For enterprises that want to send out expense money to their mobile workers, the service can offer a quick and safe way to transfer cash, Dua added. And security conscious users will be glad to know every transaction on Zoompass is encrypted and requires a mobile PIN, even if the user is already logged onto the system.

In order to send money, Zoompass users only need the name and mobile phone number of their intended recipient, Dua said.

One feature that intends to make this easy will allow users to sync their existing address book into the Zoompass system. The syncing feature will automatically recognize and discard landline-based contact numbers.

Whether the intended user has a Zoompass account or not, they will receive a money transfer request via SMS, along with an invitation to sign up for a Zoompass account to continue with the transaction.

Zoompass registration is free, but users will be charged a 50 cent fee every time they initiate a money transfer.

With Zoompass, EnStream is looking to capitalize on a fast-growing market. The number of people worldwide using mobile devices when purchasing goods or services is expected to double by the end of 2012, according to a recent report from research firm Gartner Inc.

Mobile payment users will reach 74.4 million in 2009, a 70 per cent increase over the 43 million users last year, the firm said. In 2012, that number should surpass 190 million users.

And while the Zoompass service may be brand new, the basic concept is not a novel one — especially for Toronto-based technology firms. Dexit Inc., now operating under the name Hosted Data Transaction Solutions Inc., launched in 2004 to strong media hype, but little consumer success.

The Dexit Service was positioned as an alternative to cash, offering users a small tag which would make speed-up daily transactions and could be easily refilled with credit. The service, however, did not catch on with retailers, limiting its growth in the market.

“Dexit was closed, with Zoompass we’ve focused on making the service open,” Dua said.

While vastly different services, Dua said Zoompass’s ability to work on virtually any mobile smart phone gives its tremendous flexibility and strong potential to expand as a consumer-to-merchant payment system.

Zoompass will be officially unveiled at this week’s 2009 Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto.

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