Monday, September 17, 2007

PayPoint partners with Telrock - 160 Characters News

m-Payment: Deal Opens Up SMS Utility Payments

Submitted by Mike Grenville on Thu, 06 Sep 2007 13:26

UK cash and internet payments company PayPoint has taken on Telrock to provide mobile payment and meter reading to its utility services customers and top up their mobile phones via text message.

Telrock will provide its mobile payments system textDebit to PayPoint under an exclusive revenue-sharing agreement. Technology provided by Telrock enables end users to make secure payments to clients of PayPoint using SMS.

PayPoint handles over £5 billion in over 400 million transactions annually for more than 5,000 clients and merchants in the UK and Ireland. It also has recently acquired a Romanian mobile top-up operator to which a bill payment service will be added, emulating the UK branded retail network. Dominic Taylor, Chief Executive of PayPoint, commented: "This partnership with Telrock will enable PayPoint to exploit the increasing popularity of mobile payments while broadening its proposition to existing and new clients and offering customers a further convenient way to pay bills and buy other services."

Founded in January 2002 by Russell Robinson and Tim Crowley, Chief Executive, Telrock specialises in the design, development and integration of solutions using mobile technology for payments, money transfers and other mobile-based transaction services such as fraud alerts and account information requests.

Already Popular With Consumers

To use the service consumers pre-register a debit, credit or pre-paid card which can then be used to pay a variety of bills such as energy, telecommunications or water, or top up a prepaid mobile phone. Telrock's mobile payment and customer account servicing platform is already being used by British Gas, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group.

"It's a bridge between cash and Direct Debit payments" said Alistair Clare, COO at Telrock. "Since launching with their MINT card nine months ago, about 4,000 RBS customers can authorise payment of their credit card. Customers have been pleased with it and MINT are now starting to market the service more widely."

SMS meter reading photo: Mike Grenville

Its a service that is proving popular with consumers. SSE have been including SMS as one of the options in their welcome pack since February 2007 and about 10% send a text message with their opening meter reading. "In house surveys show customers are impressed with it" said Clare, " in fact 90% asked why hasn't SMS been used before."

Slow Education Process

"We are in discussion with some of Paypoint's early adopter clients such as Utility companies and second tier operators with 4-5 million customers" said Clare "and we expect to be able to make specific client announcements in the next few months" said Clare.

Telrock have been working with British Gas for several years already for customers to text in their meter reading. Clare said that Telrock is moving to the second stage with some clients with newer billing systems where users would be prompted by SMS to read the meter, a reply with the bill amount would come back by SMS and the customer would authorise payment.

Progress however has been slow with utilities. "There is a big education process to go through" said Clare. "There is a natural tendency among these organisations to be conservative towards new technology and innovations. We expect that our deal with Paypoint will help inspire confidence and grow the whole market."

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