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07.18.16

Another One Bites the Dust: suretap Wallet to Be Discontinued

Canada’s first mobile wallet suretap is now one of the latest casualties in the mobile wallet wars. Citing market changes and an increasing number of mobile payment and banking options, among other factors, the Toronto-based company will shut down the mobile wallet as of Aug. 26. But it’s not alone. Semble, a New Zealand-based joint venture created by several telecoms and banks, discontinued its mobile payment service July 15.

Suretap follows Softcard in the U.S., Weve in the U.K. and other failed mobile wallets backed by telecoms. Rogers Communications Inc. launched suretap in 2014 and later added support from other wireless carriers and Canadian banks, including Bell, TELUS Corp., Virgin Mobile and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). In May 2015, suretap was spun off as a separate company.

In March of this year, suretap announced it was discontinuing its prepaid card program but users could still load credit and gift cards to the wallet. The company also kept its loyalty component enabling consumers to integrate loyalty programs with the wallet.

Suretap’s demise was because the company didn’t understand the mobile wallet as a multiparty platform that would create value for all participants, suggests Richard Crone, CEO, Crone Consulting LLC, a San Carlos, Calif-based independent payment advisory. “Not having a value proposition nor ignition strategy for retailers, financial institutions and ultimately consumers doomed them to slow adoption and weak promotion from the essential participants,” he tells Paybefore. “Rather than creating a more efficient, effective new payments ecosystem where everyone wins, they created unnecessary enrollment friction on all sides, along with increased transaction and marketing costs.”

The company’s first mistake, according to Crone, was limiting its wallet to a hardware-based, device-dependent approach. By focusing on Android and BlackBerry devices, it shut out iPhone users and, ultimately, “their carrier-centric heritage clouded their judgment for considering open, cloud-based software approaches.”

Apple Pay launched in Canada last year to American Express cardholders and in May expanded its program with support from Royal Bank of Canada, CIBC, ATB Financial and Canadian Tire Bank. In addition to Apple Pay, other mobile wallets in the country include UGO Wallet, which launched in 2014, as well as several banks that have developed mobile payment options.

Also appearing in the mobile wallet obituaries is Semble. The New Zealand-based joint venture created by several telecoms and banks discontinued its mobile payment service July 15. Semble’s Website says it remains committed to creating other services and is planning a more flexible, modular and future-proofed technology platform, enabling companies to digitize a wide range of wallet services for mobile devices.

Although many mobile wallet programs backed by telecoms have come and gone, some European wallets have managed to gain traction. Paris-based mobile network operator Orange, which received the 2015 Best-in-Category honor for Mobile Wallet of the Year in Pay Awards Europe for its Orange Cash mobile wallet from Wirecard, announced earlier this year a partnership with Groupama Banque to develop a completely mobile bank. And Vodafone’s mobile wallet, also backed by Wirecard, launched in 2013 and is available in several countries throughout Europe. Late last year, London-based Vodafone announced wallet users could add Mastercard-branded payments cards. A few months prior, Vodafone added compatibility for all bank-issued Visa-branded payment cards.

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Image Credits: Firkin

One thought on “Another One Bites the Dust: suretap Wallet to Be Discontinued

  1. Canada’s Suretap didn’t understand the power of the mobile wallet as a multi-party platform that would create value for all participants.
    Not having a value proposition nor ignition strategy for retailers, financial institutions and ultimately consumers doomed them to slow adoption and weak promotion from the essential participants. Rather than creating a more efficient, effective new payments ecosystem where everyone wins, they created unnecessary enrollment friction on all sides along with increased transaction and marketing costs.
    Suretap’s first error was limiting their offering to a closed, hardware-based, device-dependent approach focused exclusively on secure elements and Near Field Communications (NFC) – which immediately shut out and alienated half the market, those using Apple iPhones. Apple does not provide access to their NFC antenna nor their secure element. And there are no signs that they ever plan to do so.
    On the Android OS side, Suretap tried to execute a classic extortion strategy by holding the secure element hostage and ransoming enrollment by charging monopoly rents to the financial institutions to participate. The lack of value-added benefits for participation by any of the parties involved made it tough to even gain an audience let alone coordinate and gain commitments to back the multi-sided platform.
    Extortion strategies rarely work for struggling consortium-based startups in a multi-sided market.
    What is so sad is they already had payment account credentials on file used by customers to pay their wireless phone bills; these could have been instantly activated and pre-populated for mobile payments. This would have removed all the enrollment friction and financial institution dependencies.
    With that said, all new payment types start with merchant acceptance. A “wallet” is worthless if there is nowhere to use it. Suretap offered no benefits nor motivation for promotional participation to merchants.
    Sadly, Suretap did not bother to study or learn from the many errors of the failed SoftCard venture of their US brethren. They started this venture terminally afflicted with innovator’s dilemma and their carrier-centric heritage clouded their judgment for considering open, cloud-based software approaches.

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