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Waspit seeks niche in booming mobile payments space

Waspit is a start-up seeking to carve out a niche in the fast-growing mobile payments space, which Gartner projects will grow into a $633 billion market by 2014.

Waspit claims its SMS service can be used to send and receive money between friends and family, to buy and sell things online and through online auction sites and to pay for parking, train tickets and online or mobile gaming. Consumers first link a debit or credit card to their mobile number via a registration process or credit their Waspit account by sending money from their PayPal account or by getting another Waspit user to transfer some money to their account.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Richard Steggall, CEO of Waspit, London. Here is what he had to say:

What is Waspit’s strategy behind launching its mobile payment platform?
Our strategy was to provide a Visa-like platform where a user could use their mobile device to originate and receive payments.

In particular, it was designed to provide businesses with an opportunity to enter the mcommerce arena with a more commercial billing method than PSMS and other similar methods, and to cover an area where other operators such as PayPal—even with their iPhone app—and Zong do not fully cover.

Network operators have had the opportunity to corner this market, but with a lack of a unified and commercial approach by these carriers, PSMS has predominately been limited to mobile originated micro-transactions.

The poor out-payments available through PSMS and other similar services like PayforIt mean that it is often un-commercial for businesses to offer anything other than content and subscription services in this arena.

What is the target demographic?
Tweens and anyone who considers himself or herself an early-adopter.

Does Waspit have agreements with carriers? Do mobile payments made via Waspit appear on a consumer’s phone bill or credit/debit card statement?
Waspit does not use PSMS as a billing method. Therefore agreements with the networks are not as essential as they would be for a company like Zong whose primary billing method is via PSMS.

Each time a user tops up their account using a bank account, debit/credit card or a PayPal account, on their banking statement it will show as a debit to Waspit for the respective amount.

When a User views their Waspit statement, by logging in on the Web site, the top-up will show as a credit from their respective account.

For each transaction on the Waspit account, whether it’s a debit or credit, it will show the date, description, that is, who the payment was to or from, the amount and their running balance.

All transactions are reported real-time.

What brands/publishers/developers have adopted Waspit’s platform? What challenges does Waspit address for them?
It is still early days for Waspit—however, we do have a number of pilot initiatives in place with two of the largest British SMS aggregators WIN and mBlox.

Both of these companies recognize the importance of enabling businesses, their existing clients, to access a more functional and commercial billing method so that they may more fully embrace mcommerce.

We expect to announce by the end of the month a mid-tier retail chain in the U.K. who is adopting the platform, as well as a number of social gamming sites.

Waspit are currently in discussions with a number of developers and publishers about the best way of enabling them to use Waspit as an alternate billing method for mobile apps, particularly iPhone apps.

We expect to announce a product in the second week of August which will deliver this.

The challenge most business operators have but don’t necessarily consider is how to capture customers who do not have access to other means of payment.

Waspit addresses this challenge, and will help businesses increase customer numbers.

Final take
Dan Butcher, Mobile Commerce Daily