Ireland: Loyalty-Scheme Operator Uses Stickers While Waiting for NFC
Users can attach their Zapatag passive stickers to their phones and tap them on readers at the retail checkout to receive bonuses and rewards. The system is designed to enable consumers to use one tag for multiple retail loyalty accounts. Ireland-based Zapa, backed by at least 2.5 million euros (US$3.7 million) in venture capital, funds deployment of the stickers and contactless readers and will earn fees for revenue. As of August 2010, the company said it had deployed readers in nearly 800 shops, nearly all in Ireland, including those of Insomnia Coffee. A partnership with Ireland's largest merchant acquirer, AIB Merchant Services, announced in mid-2010, promises to help expand the contactless loyalty service nationwide and possibly allow Zapa to gain a foothold in the United Kingdom. UK sandwich chain EAT plans to trial the Zapa system for loyalty and possibly closed-loop payment in May of 2011, with an eye toward a rollout later in the year.
Entrepreneur John Nagle believes he can expand the Zapa scheme into several European countries, as he did his former electronic top-up and payments company, Payzone. He intends to add close-loop gift card payment and reportedly has deals lined up for this application in Dublin, Ireland, and Antwerp, Belgium. Though Zapa has a penchant for saying the company's Zapatags use NFC technology, they are strictly passive contactless stickers, although Nagle later intends to move the Zapa application from stickers to NFC phones. Nagle headed Ireland-based electronic top-up and payments company Alphyra, expanding and then rebranding it Payzone. He merged it with UK-based ATM operator Cardpoint in 2007. Payzone's chief investors forced Nagle out as chief executive in 2008.
Update: Zapa, however, in late October reportedly appointed a provisional liquidator to help it pay off its debts. End update.
* Trusted Service Manager: Defined loosely to include companies or other organizations securely distributing, provisioning and managing applications, generally over the air, on secure elements in NFC mobile phones; or licensing their platforms for this purpose.
N/A: Not available or not applicable. Last update: Aug. 2010