Chartwell Compliance Discusses Mobile Payments With Joakim Blom, CEO of SEQR USA

Can you please explain what Seamless is and tell us about your product SEQR?

J: SEQR is the next generation mobile payment solution and Seamless is the parent company that developed the product. With SEQR you can pay in store, online, connect loyalty programs, collect receipts, send money and redeem offers. It’s the most complete mobile payment solution.

SEQR’s disruptive technology was developed on the Seamless proprietary transaction switch that’s been tried and tested on the market for over a decade. It makes it possible to bypass the card companies and thereby offer merchants and consumers a unique, cheaper, quicker and safer payment solution. It is available for Andriod, Ios and Windows and utilizes QR-codes and NFC.

I’m calling SEQR a next generation product because it is independent from the old cost inefficient technology utilized by the many solutions that simply add payment cards into smart phones. Merchants will require lower cost transactions and a mobile payment service that enables an improved connection with the consumers. Our technology and business model is tried and tested in Europe where we have managed to deliver on those promises and subsequently become the most distributed mobile payment service in Europe. Now we are getting prepared to do the same in the US. We are not a household name yet in the US but we are no start up either.

Seamless was founded in 2001 and has been publically traded on the Nasdaq OMX since 2006. Our long experience of operating our proprietary transaction switch and servicing a customer list of banks and mobile network operators in over 30 countries really sets us apart from the competition. Our transaction switch processes more than 3.1 billion transactions per year and delivers services to over 525,000 active points of sale. We know transactions and we know how to integrate and deliver our services to merchants.

Where do you think the most significant growth will occur in the company in the next few years?

J: Within SEQR. It is growing fast and will continue to do so. We launched in Sweden in 2012. In Romania in 2013 and Finland, Belgium and Portugal in 2014.  SEQR is a highly scalable product and we will make every effort to modernize payments globally.

How do you expect to manage that?

J: We are investing in our ability to go to market even faster and on-board users and merchants seamlessly. The ability to roll out SEQR quickly is part of our business model. It’s an important factor for our merchant customers and it helps our case. We’ll cut your costs and improve the consumer experience but we won’t charge you anything to get going and it’s really fast and simple to get going. There is no need to install hardware. We integrate with the cashier system and the merchant puts a QR-code on display at check-out. As an example we recently rolled out 1 300 POS in 5 days for a national pharmacy chain in Sweden. So, here’s our proposition, no Capex or Opex and very little organizational efforts to rollout our solution. It sounds good, because it is good.

What are some of the ways you work to ensure that Seamless remains competitive in an ever-changing global marketplace?

J: Our way to succeed in this market is to keep being innovative and to provide a multi-cultural and entrepreneurial environment that enables this. One of our SEQR mottos that really permeate the culture is to implement better ideas at a faster pace. Another one, which might be called a Seamless motto, is to provide our customers with absolute operational excellence. It’s the type of culture that grows with our heritage.

What are some of the most significant shifts that you’ve witnessed in the payments sector?

J: Now we are getting to the fun part! It’s an exciting time in the payment industry because we are at the brink of another paradigm shift as we speak. Just as we have seen how coins and paper have been exchanged for payments with cards, the card is now challenged by smarter solutions.

The hot topic, of course, is payment initiation through smartphones. This is naturally driven by new technology but also by evolving requirements from overarching consumer trends in general. Simply paying with your mobile is not the entire story. Merchants are developing a more holistic approach to how they face consumers and are looking to do so in an integrated way. Payments are a natural part of this development and will evolve to become more of a handshake between the merchant and the consumer. An agreement in which they exchange information to make transactions, loyalty, rewards, shipping and data collection for analysis into a completely seamless experience. The payment experience will become universal and consumers will be able to initiate these agreements with merchants in a frictionless manner and while being in control. The smart phone is the device that ties the knot together, that consumers can use to pay in all channels, with security and ease of use. SEQR does it all and can be used to exchange these agreements and to pay online or in store with the same experience. SEQR is that next generation of payment and consumer experience tied together. By cooperating with SEQR merchants have the opportunity to challenge a 40-year old payment system.

Could you elaborate on what technology changes are shaping the payments sector?

J: Mobile payments will be a disruptive force that shapes the entire industry. The smart phone can be used to route any data that we want to exchange in the handshake between merchants and consumers. This will enable a more intelligent conversation and new more cost efficient routing of transactions.

There is absolutely no point in routing mobile transactions trough the old payment card rails. These rails have costs tied to them like no other. The payment card industry has had to invest in an expensive and now outdated architecture that they have every incentive in the world to try and keep alive. It’s expensive, it’s hard to enter and in the end the merchants pay the price.

Since the mobile can send and receive data wirelessly there is no need for card terminals and there will be no need for cards. Payments have the potential to become cheaper and to support merchants in their desire to develop the consumer experience.

This is what we believe and this is how SEQR has won the merchants appreciation. The merchants decide what payment solutions they accept and they now have the chance to control if mobile payments will live up to its promise.

How does technology help you stay compliant with regulatory mandates?

J: Technology helps us in every way. We use technology for our customer identification program and we use it to screen customers and to monitor transactions.

SEQR take regulatory mandates as serious as we take security and we are the most secure solution around. There is no way for anyone to steal information and use it the way you can steal someone’s card number.

There are no unwelcome transactions because the payer initiates the transactions. There is no way to hack a server and steal a bunch of keychains because we don´t store them on a server. There is no way to intercept sensitive information because it never leaves our transaction switch. Better ideas, safer payments.

What will Seamless strive toward for the future?

J: Our technology offers endless possibilities and we have a bunch of cool ideas that we want to develop for SEQR but as exciting as they are, we will try to keep them to ourselves for now.

But I can tell you that we are here to change the payment industry and be the most rewarding payment solution for merchants and consumers alike. We want to be the merchant’s absolute best friend and preferred payment method.  We want our users to become spoiled with intelligent solutions that make everyday life more efficient and interesting. We want to takeaway any inconvenience in shopping. We want our merchant customers to save money, increase store traffic and build consumer loyalty by accepting SEQR. We want our users to save time and money by paying with SEQR. We want to make all payments secure and we want all payments to be made through SEQR.

This article was written by Iman Boussaada. The nterview has been condensed and edited.



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