Canada's First Open Digital Wallet UGO Pay Enables P2P Transfers

UGO, Canada's first open digital wallet that supports loyalty, gift, credit cards announced today that it added P2P money transfers to its UGO Wallet called UGO Pay. UGO Pay will initially be available in beta and provide customers an opportunity to transfer funds securely and easily on the mobile device. Basically, UGO is adding Venmo to the wallet.

Alec Morley, CEO of UGO, commented in the official press release, "With the addition of UGO Pay, our wallet now offers more functionality on more smartphones than any other digital wallet in Canada today. Our customers have already added nearly half a million loyalty, gift and payment cards to their UGO Wallets, and UGO Pay is another example of how we continue to bring to market the combined features and capabilities that allow users to simplify their lives."

With the new service, UGO Pay users will be able to load money from Visa or MasterCard credit/debit cards onto UGO Pay. One-time load is limited by a range from $5 to $999.99.

The description of the way the service works is slightly reminiscent of Google Wallet’s exciting feature of sending money in minutes just using someone’s phone number.

UGO Pay will allow to make real-time transfers securely and easily via text messages using either a sender's existing address book, or by inputting any Canadian mobile phone number. Recipients can accept funds with a few taps and choose to keep a balance for future use, cash out, or make a purchase at popular restaurant locations, including Swiss Chalet, Harvey's and Milestones, as the company promises.

The tricky part is that UGO is inclusive with the service and only UGO Pay users may accept funds. If a recipient receives a notification and in case he is not a UGO Pay user, he will be directed to download the app.

Aside from the P2P transfer function, UGO Wallet can be used to make a payment at any merchant who supports contactless payments. Moreover, the wallet allows to redeem reward points and gift card balances wherever the merchant has the appropriate technology at POS.

In the coming months, UGO is looking to evolve the service and add new features. UGO Pay will be supported across iOS, Android and BlackBerry mobile platforms regardless of the carrier. As company stated, all features of the wallet are backed by bank-grade security with optional PIN or password settings.

It is interesting that another digital wallet (just like Google Wallet) is refocusing towards P2P payments. We have been actively analyzing mobile wallets space with tightening competition, low usage and adoption. There is a chance that more and more companies along with Google and UGO that support mobile wallets will start redefining the service to move away from NFC payments to P2P transfers. However, UGO may as well just be looking to expand the services to become a one-stop place for users. In that case, the service will have to significantly invest in the expansion of its merchant network and not become redundant as a wallet.