Telecoms

Zapper targets viral status

Read time 3min 10sec

The Zap Group aims to have five million users signed up to its home-grown mobile payment app Zapper within the next year, by following the same path to viral status taken by Twitter - that of organic growth via word of mouth.

According to Zap Group GM Derek Wiggill, in the roughly 100 days since Zapper officially launched on local soil with just 80 restaurants signed up to the service, the app has garnered a following of 48 000 active users - a number that is growing by 22% to 24% per week.

"We would love to be at five million users in a year's time. That is basically the penetration rate of SA's smartphone user and dining-out market. By then, we aim to have 6 000 restaurants on board."

To date, about 550 restaurants have gone live with Zapper, and Wiggill says the company is engaged in final pilots with some of SA's big dining groups. When the deal is closed, he says, the number of restaurants signed up will swell significantly.

Over a third of the users currently on board have completed three or more transactions using the app and the average transaction amount is above the R200 mark.

Incidental market

In July, SA's mobile market saw a land grab in the mobile payments space, with the likes of Standard Bank's SnapScan, Net1 Mobile Solutions' VCPay and local start-up FlickPay also entering the market.

Wiggill says, while Zapper is classed as a mobile payment service, the fact that the app allows users to pay the bill using their smartphone is secondary in the grand scheme of things. "Zapper is a customer relationship platform and a digital marketing channel that happens to do payment. The payment side is incidental - it is how we close off value."

Zapper uses quick response (QR) code technology to enable patrons of local restaurants to pay their bills by scanning a code printed on their slip. Customers have the option of splitting the bill and including gratuity, as well as rating service.

Merchants (for now just restaurants), in turn, are able to use the app to manage customer relationships and offer incentives - encouraging return business - Wiggill explains.

Viral venture

"The digital channel gives you surety of effectiveness, unlike outdoor advertising, for example. It allows you to determine who your influencer is and who shares what with who - and offer rewards through coupons or vouchers.

"This creates a wonderful cascading means of permeating groups and communities - all through word of mouth. If successful, the concept can go viral and that is what mobile is all about. The same is true with Twitter and all successful platforms. None of them advertise themselves. If you have to advertise, you have lost the plot."

Despite industry cynicism around the readiness of the local market for mobile payments as a whole, Wiggill believes SA is "very much ready" for the new wave of payment technology. "People are fast to adopt and we have been surprised by take-up in some places - for example, Melkbosstrand in the Western Cape. We expected introducing Zapper to the community would be a lemon, but we were wrong."

Wiggill says further functionality is set to be sewn on to Zapper, including a bespoke facial recognition feature - which is coming in the next couple of weeks.

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