Semble launched across New Zealand today. Using the app and a special Semble-enabled ‘Ready Secure SIM-card’, anyone with an Android smartphone can now make payments at any contactless terminal in the country. Semble estimates there are around a million Android smartphones and more than 20,000 contactless terminals in New Zealand.
Semble chief executive Rob Ellis said during the launch event at Auckland’s Skycity Grand Hotel that the collaboration involved in the project is unprecedented in New Zealand and worldwide. He said mobile wallet initiatives existing internationally have all involved just one or two parties working together. All of New Zealand’s major telecommunications companies – Spark, 2degrees and Vodafone – plus ASB, BNZ and Paymark are supporting Semble. Each company’s CEO was present at the launch.
Westpac and ANZ both have their own plans for a competing mobile wallet app underway.
Ellis explained that Semble had been designed so that it was simple to use. Customers hold their phone over the contactless terminal, wait for the beep, and then the payment is processed.
“All the companies here today are committed to making this simple and secure.”
ASB CEO Barbara Chapman compared Semble to the early days of eftpos technology.
“It was this sort of industry initiative which, 25 years ago, got New Zealand into the eftpos space.”
She echoed Ellis’ confidence that the public would swiftly embrace the new payment technology, saying the use of mobile banking was tracking four times faster than the growth of internet banking.
Mark Rushworth, CEO of Paymark, told a story about standing in line at the supermarket on a Sunday grocery run, reflecting on how much the Kiwi payment experience has changed over the years.
“I’m sure that those who grew up before the 90’s wouldn’t have thought we’d be waving a card in front of the terminal, let alone scanning our own groceries, packing our bags and… wandering out of the supermarket.”
He commented that, like Semble, when eftpos launched it had only two banks on board as well.
BNZ CEO Anthony Healy said the impressive line-up of banks and telcos was a sign of Semble’s importance. He said mobile banking had now overtaken internet banking as BNZ’s most popular digital channel.
“Although a lot of us are competitors in our day-to-day business, with Semble, we’re working together to benefit our customers.”
Ellis flagged numerous expansions in Semble’s repertoire, saying the payment app hoped to expand into loyalty systems, coupons, public transport ticketing and more.
Public transport card system Snapper was today announced as Semble’s first partner, and an active trial with BurgerFuel testing special offers for redemption through the use of the Semble app will kick off in April.
Asked when Semble will be available for Apple smartphones, Ellis said the company had not yet begun speaking with Apple, but the new iPhone 6 and 6+ were the first Apple devices to have the necessary NFC technology.
Vodafone CEO Russell Stanners added that, “Apple talk to you when they’re ready.” “They will tell us when… but now that they’ve got their technology in their phones it’s just a matter of time.”