Why Kiwis won't pay for it with 'Payforit'

Yet another payment system has been launched in New Zealand, but will it work? I think not.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor

Yet another payment system has been launched in New Zealand.

Payforit works using your mobile phone for small payments under NZ$10, and takes money from your phone bill as opposed to your credit card or bank account.

But while the New Zealand telcos have come up with standards for the system to operate, it seems that no "traditional" Kiwi retailer is yet to offer the service. Although, to be honest, I wonder why anyone should bother.

Payforit has operated in the UK for several years, where it has gone down like a lead balloon, despite claims that it can boost retailers' sales by 28 per cent.

Very few retailers offer the service, typically providing computer games or nightclub tickets, although Virgin Trains is one well-known participant, allowing passengers to buy on-board Wi-Fi.

Indeed, Payforit seems to be the payment system that UK retailers forgot.

We haven't heard how much it might cost New Zealand retailers to offer Payforit, but if it is anything like the £1000 per month claimed in the UK, it will be way too expensive for practically all Kiwi retailers, especially for the countless number of small retailers that New Zealand has.

And if Payforit didn't succeed in Britain, then it is even less likely to in New Zealand.

Few countries have such an EFTPOS culture that Kiwis have, which is also true of Australia, where early interest in Payforit has diminished.

The UK, by contrast, has been slow in adopting the EFTPOS equivalent known as Switch, with many smaller retailers, such as the shop in my parents' village, demanding that customers spend at least £8, whereas many a Kiwi retailer will allow EFTPOS use on sales of just a few dollars.

I can imagine that EFTPOS will continue its dominance.

Furthermore, with text-to-park phone-based payment, as well as "tap and go" card payments, not to mention the new arrival of RFID-based wrist tags, I see little or no need for Payforit, either for the retailer or the consumer.

And, back in the UK, it seems rival m-commerce, or "mobile wallet" systems, looks set for take-off, despite concerns over security.

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