Swedish mobile payment specialist Seamless has partnered with Turkey's Garanti Bank to launch its Seqr NFC and QR payments platform in Romania — and plans to launch the service in the UK later this year.
Starting as a QR code based payment service in late 2011, Seqr was expanded to include support for NFC tag-based payments in April this year and will be offering both options when the service is launched in a few weeks time.
Peter Fredell, CEO of Seamless, told NFC World: "Since introducing NFC as well as QR code payments, we now always roll both options out to merchants. We have done pilots with the bank in some large retail chains for six months now and the service will be commercially launched in a few weeks.
"We are very opportunistic here at Seamless; we are already in a lot of countries and some markets have been a very natural expansion for us but Romania is a very interesting one. When we were approached by Garanti Bank, we felt that it was the right move to make because the bank has an enormous reputation in Europe."
The platform requires a software upgrade to merchant's cash registers and for retailers to place their merchant ID sticker, which includes an NFC tag as well as a printed QR code, at the checkout.
When a customer wishes to pay via Seqr, they can scan the QR code or tap the NFC tag using their mobile phone. At the same time, the merchant selects the Seqr button on their cash register.
The transaction amount is then sent to Seamless's server and, from there, to the customer's mobile phone. By approving the payment with a PIN, the user immediately receives a digital receipt for their purchase.
Fredell continued: "The fun thing is the difference in the market there to the market here in Sweden. In Sweden, credit card transactions are at a global high of 79% but in Romania, credit card usage is only around 20%; it's all cash transactions.
"As you can imagine, the cost for banks is enormous so they are wanting to make the move away from cash handling into electronic payments and they don't really care how; they just look at what's cheapest, and that's mobile.
"So we are seeing a huge traction from banks in these countries where cash payment is at a global high and where credit card transactions are relatively low in number. It is the banks that are driving this change in Romania.
"We believe that one market is no better than another; we just want to roll our services out to countries that have a high number of payment transactions and we are looking at rolling out the service to the UK this Autumn.
"But for now, we are honoured and excited about entering this collaboration and about addressing together the large potential the Romanian market has for mobile payments."
The company has also announced that it has signed a deal with another retail POS solutions provider, Sweden's Visma. The agreement means that Seqr will be included as an optional feature in most of Visma's retail POS systems across Sweden.
"Visma has a very strong position among Scandinavian food and retail chains, and we can now give even more users the opportunity to experience how easy it is to pay with mobile," says Fredell.