Launched in March this year, Semble is a joint venture by Paymark, Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees. Using the same NFC (Near Field Communication) technology as contactless cards, it enables BNZ and ASB customers to pay for their purchases with a digital version of their Visa or Mastercard stored on their Android smartphone. It works even if your phone is turned off or the battery is flat, and is as secure as using a contactless-enabled debit card.
“Semble is a free app available to download from Google Play,” says Semble CEO Rob Ellis. “Kiwi early adopters have responded well. Our focus right now is on developing further service categories to increase the convenience, utility and everyday use for New Zealanders.”
Semble’s app partnership with contactless payment system Snapper is a great example of this, Ellis says. “Just 16 weeks after it was launched the app was contributing 15 percent of all services, with customers enjoying the convenience of tagging on and off participating Snapper buses, parking meters, taxis and the cable car around Wellington with their phones.”
Like PayPass and payWave, though, using Semble incurs a fee per transaction from the banks, and this has resulted in many smaller merchants choosing not to activate the contactless element of their Eftpos terminal.
“It’s a misconception that it is more expensive for small and medium retailers to accept contactless credit card transactions,” says Kirkland, who is concerned merchants may dismiss the opportunity without fully researching the costs and benefits. “They have the same interchange rate as major merchants, plus MasterCard have reduced fees on sub-$15 transactions as well as providing better interchange rates for contactless debit and credit.”
Kirkland also notes that retailers offering contactless are laying the foundation for the next wave of payment solutions coming to the market. “A recent MasterCard survey showed only one in five Kiwis carry cash, and 45 percent believe we will be a cashless society in 10 years time.”
As we stand on the threshold of this technology, Kirkland urges retailers currently not using contactless to have a re-think.
“Speak to your bank, find out the charges – you’ll be surprised that they’re not as high as you think”. The cost of not remaining competitive and service oriented could be much greater.