Seamless Distribution AB has been working with mobile payments from an early stage. With the SEQR® service, consumers can pay in stores and online via an app on their mobile phone. For a period in the 2010s, the service was the most used mobile payment solution in both Sweden and Europe. Groth & Co filed patent applications for Seamless mobile payments in 2011.
Mobile payments are payment methods where a mobile phone is used to pay for a purchase. When the technology was new in the early 2000s, this often meant paying by SMS. But since 2010, payments have more usually been made through an app on a smartphone. The technology used to communicate to and from the mobile phone can now be SMS, website, app, Near Field Communication or QR code.
One company to see the benefits of mobile payments at an early stage was the Swedish FinTech company Seamless Distribution AB. In 2011, Seamless launched the SEQR service, which enabled anyone with a smartphone to pay in a shop, restaurant, car park or online. The user could also send and receive money for free, connect their customer club memberships, collect receipts digitally and take advantage of deals direct in their phone. Their technology was based on scanning a QR code at the checkout and approving payment with pin code. We drafted and filed patent applications for Seamless to EPO, in the USA, and via PCT in September 2011.
For a period in the 2010s, SEQR was the most used mobile payment solution in both Sweden and Europe. But the rapidly expanding market has many major players and competition is fierce. In late 2017, Seamless (now Invuo Technologies AB) sold SEQR to the newly established company Glase FinTech AB and, in October 2018, Invuo initiated bankruptcy proceedings.
Mobile payments are increasing, and the technology will become more common in the future. Today there are five main types of mobile payments, which can also be used in combination:
Operator invoices, where a payment is added to another bill, such as a telephone bill.
Payments with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology
Direct transfers between different bank accounts, such as Swish.
In 2017, 66% of Swedes used the app Swish to pay for purchases and carry out transactions with their smartphones. Despite all this, however, Europe is trailing other continents when it comes to the use of mobile payments. Only 22% of Europeans used some form of mobile payment in 2017. Globally, the corresponding figure is 33%, with China and India topping the list at 45% and 41% of the population respectively making mobile payments in 2017. The two largest players within mobile payments are both Chinese – WeChat and AliPay, which had 600 and 450 million active users respectively in 2017. Other major global players are PayPal, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.