Does a small San Diego start-up stand a chance in the mobile payment market competing against the likes of Apple Pay and Samsung Pay?
Netclearance Chief Executive David Fernandez thinks so, based on his company’s success last year in Scandinavia, where Netclearance partnered with Danske Bank to get its mobile payment technology deployed in 30,000 retailers ranging from grocery stores to Starbucks.
“The merchants love it because they get over a 50 percent reduction in transaction fees, and they get their money in milliseconds,” said Fernandez, who formerly worked at Qualcomm and Motorola Mobility. “It’s a game-changer.”
That remains to be seen. Mobile payments have been slow to take hold, particularly in the U.S., because most payment machines here lack the wireless capabilities to link cash registers to smartphones.
In addition, current magnetic strip technology works. So consumers in general haven’t been clamoring to pay with mobile devices.
“The track record for mobile payment services is not good … with only a small percentage of iOS and Android users adopting them,” according to a report by industry research firm CCS Insight.
Apple Pay and Samsung Pay use technology and security tokenization that lets shoppers tap smartphones on payment terminals to charge registered credit or debit cards. Dozens of mobile wallet apps, including a popular one from Starbucks, do essentially the same thing.
What makes Netclearance different is it removes the credit card firms from the equation — enabling banks and retailers to set up their own private, direct mobile payment networks. “It allows a person with an app — a bank app, a brand app — to completely bypass the credit card rails,” said Fernandez.
Netclearance is talking with a large financial institution about rolling out its system in the U.S. But it hasn’t signed a deal yet.
“Our main customers are the banks,” said Fernandez. “Because it’s app based, it gives the banks more control on the benefits they can give to their users. It is really an intelligent payment system.”