Mobile payments are hot right now, but many services are only offered for certain phones, or certain stores– like Starbucks’ mobile payment app. A Lithuanian startup has a new take on the concept to also reach users who don’t have a smartphone. Mokipay uses a sticker with a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that attaches to the back of a smart or dumb phone, which can be read by a Mokipay reader already present in about 2000 bars, restaurants, and retailers across Lithuania.
To use the service, you hold the NFC sticker on your phone next to the business’ reader. If the purchase price is less than 10Lt (about €2.90) then a payment is automatically taken out of your Mokipay account. For sums greater than that, confirmation is required by PIN or sPIN through a message to the phone number tied to your account.
For those with a smartphone, you can also download their Android or iPhone app which allows you to check your account balance and find supported stores in your area. It also allows you to check statistics, like average payment size. Mokipay allows retailers to track their customers better, which is why they’re also getting into the loyalty card business. On their website you can find a list of supported businesses, who seem to offer anywhere between 5-10% discounts for using Mokipay.
The Prime Minister of Lithuania has even tried out Mokipay at a restaurant during the European Basketball Championship in July, of which Mokipay was the official settlement system. “We are also leaders in the fields of some technologies. The presented innovations both to the whole world and to ourselves prove that Lithuania is a successful country,” Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.
I’m suspicious of the viability of many mobile payment programs, but by being able to target users who don’t have a smartphone, Mokipay seems like the first mobile payment program capable of gaining serious traction with the critical mass of customers and retailers.