Payzone, Europe’s largest branded consumer payments network with 23,000 terminals at the point-of-sale in UK convenience stores, is expanding its services to drive footfall and shopper spend.
While core services include mobile top-up, credit and debit acceptance and bill payment, the company is adding products to its Payzone terminals.
The plans are coming together under the leadership of Gary Jennison, managing director of Payzone UK. Jennison joined the company in March 2011 and has been focused on restructuring the business internally, improving the existing Payzone service and implementing new strategies.
“There’s been a lot of changes in the market,” he says. “Payzone has been asleep.”
Not any more. Now it’s launching new products, while a completely new retailer point-of-sale system is in the pipeline.
According to Jennison, it will be rolled out across the entire network, beginning in the first quarter of 2012.
Jennison says Payzone has spent £1m on development costs for the system, which will speed transactions and use software that is easier to navigate, grouping utilities and mobile phones into categories, for example.
Payzone has also recently launched a service, which will allow consumers to pay debts, join savings clubs or make holiday payments through its existing merchants.
Described as the UK’s first alternative cash payment network, Payzone Collect includes the creation and distribution of co-branded Payzone Collect Cards and provision of a Daily Transaction File (DTF) to monitor all payments and transactions.
According to Payzone, the service provides a convenient way for consumers to manage their money, attracting new and existing customers who either don’t have a bank account facility or want a simple way to make regular payments and build savings.
Debt collectors can also use the service to pay any doorstep cash collected into a local Payzone retailer, emptying their pockets, which increases personal security and reduces banking costs.
“We believe it will attract many customers into our retailers’ stores, helping them increase footfall and revenue,” says Jennison.
Enabling consumers to make payments to other organisations such as catalogue companies and hamper clubs via its terminals is another opportunity, Jennison says.
Tapping new consumer needs is essential in a changing marketplace. The pre-paid sector, such as pay-as-you-go services for mobile phones, is declining as the leading mobile network operators switch customers to monthly contracts and enhance their deals.
As a result, shoppers are going into stores less frequently, says Jennison.
“Retail margins are declining from cellular because the market is not as big as it was in the mid-2000s,” he says.
Change is afoot in the bill payment sector too, as the leading utility companies explore new ways to manage metering such as smart metering and new technologies for consumers to pay their bills.
Jennison expects smart metering will deploy SIM cards, similar to those used for mobiles, and will parallel the pay-as-you-go system on a phone. Consumers will still need to pay their money somehow and, hopefully, it will be via a retailer, he says. That’s key since bill payment customers spend more in store than other shoppers, Payzone says.
Hence the drive to provide new products and services.
“Where we can grow and help retailers make more money is by putting new propositions onto the terminal,” says Jennison.
Another new product, which helps get customers into store, is the pre-paid debit card. These are relatively new to the UK market but offer a much cheaper way of transferring money. Payzone launched its first version, in partnership with Lycamoney, in April 2011.
Participating Payzone retailers earn commission on card sales and subsequent cash loads.
Further branded pre-paid cards have subsequently been introduced, driving retailer footfall and maximising shopper spend.