Semble ceasing contactless payments

New Zealand’s first mobile wallet app has pulled the plug on contactless payments. Consumer NZ reported in November last year that contactless payments made up 15 percent of point-of-sale transactions and 10 percent of point-of-sale spend, so, we asked, what’s gone wrong?

Semble was created in 2012 and added Snapper public transport payments to its mobile wallet in July last year.

Chief executive Rob Ellis announced on July 15 that following a strategic review of the business it will discontinue its current mobile payment service.

Ellis says Semble remains committed to bringing innovation to its mobile wallet platform and will refocus the business to develop new services.

“Mobile payment services haven’t had the speed of uptake and usage we expected due to a variety of reasons. These include low levels of consumer awareness of mobile payments and relatively low volumes of contactless terminals, although contactless transactions in general are growing,” he says.

Only about 25 to 30 percent of all payment terminals in New Zealand have contactless capabilities. Outside of major retailers such as supermarkets, petrol stations and big box retailers, the usage numbers are low. Ellis says this was a constraint in the growth of the business.

The app was not compatible with iPhones, which closed off a significant part of the market.

Semble and its key stakeholders, 2degrees, Spark, Vodadone, ASB and BNZ jointly undertook the review and agreed to discontinue Semble’s current payment service.

Billed as the next big thing in contactless payments, Ellis says while Semble was free to consumers, it had low levels of consumer awareness.

Semble will continue to operate and is currently planning to extend its capability to include a more flexible, modular and future-proofed technology platform which offers Kiwi businesses easy integration into their own and third-party mobile apps to deliver a range of wallet services.

“We’ve learned a great deal over the past couple of years, technology has evolved. Semble remains committed to the vision of moving all those cards from your wallet or purse into your smartphone, not just your payment cards.

“At this point we can’t share specific plans for what services will come next, but transit, loyalty, gift cards and vouchers are all very much in the mix.”

While there are no current plans to offer payment services in the future, it has not be ruled out as a possibility.

Semble’s existing payment card services will be discontinued by the end of August and it is no longer available to new customers. Existing “Snapper in Semble” customers will be able to keep using the Snapper functionality on their phones for the foreseeable future. Existing cards due to expire will not be renewed.

Snapper senior marketing manager Nina Ive says Snapper customers can continue using their Semble SIMs without the banking services or revert back to using a physical card.

Customers who continue to use Snapper on their phones will have to rely fully on the Snapper mobile app for checking balances and topping up, as the Semble app will no longer function.

Snapper has not yet decided what future contactless payment options it will peruse.

“We have a development team that’s always analysing the latest technology that will work for transport, but it often takes quite a long time to develop,” Ive says.

The company will announce any new technology when it is ready to use, rather than when it is in development.

This story originally appeared on The Register