Exclusive Interview with Ove Teige VP Sales of Nordic-based 'MeaWallet', on global expansion

Topic: What is the story of the company? Who are the founders and what are the service offerings under MeaWallet?

Response: The CEO, CIO and VP-Sales, part of the core management team, have had prior experience in IBM. They were part of RFID team in IBM which was making use of IBM’s patented NFC & RFID technologies in retail space in Norway & Poland. We wanted to create something fast enough and solve issues and problems with wallets and TSMs so we moved out and started building our solution rapidly. Our employee strength currently stands at 25. It will grow to 45 to 60 by the end of this year.

MeaWallet provides secure and cost effective mobile wallet solutions. Through MeaWallet, we focus on the entire ecosystem; financial institutions, IT/security solution providers, payment schemes, acquirers and more. Other B2B companies use our mobile wallet turn key solution or awhite label mobile wallet and we handle the entire lifecycle including security. MeaWallet provides support for different kinds of cards: loyalty cards, identification papers, tickets, access cards, payment cards etc.

We have five major solutions namely: MeaESB, MeaSafePay, MeaSEC, MeaTrust & finally the MeaWallet. These tools work in unison to deliver a robust end to end payment solution. MeaESB is a flexible infrastructure for integrating applications and services and linking business applications with mobile wallet ecosystem. MeaSafePay uses stored cards in the certified MeaSEC solution for use in any form of m-commerce or NFC payment. MeaTrust is our advanced Trusted Service Manager (TSM).

Topic: Can you describe your company's growth over the past years?

Response: In Europe, we have our presence in Norway and Latvia with Norway being the headquarters. In USA, we have offices in North Carolina, Connecticut and Palo Alto in California. Our company started back in 2011 under the name ‘TrustNordics’. In 2012, we completely focused on developing APIs for mobile wallet apps. But by 2013 TrustNordics failed to fulfill fund raising goals and got an offer for a management buy-out by John Longhurst, a former global investment professional for Capital Group and PIMCO. MeaWallet was established out of the funding acquired through the buy-out.

Over the years we have acquired different clients and partnered with companies like Visa, MasterCard, IBM, Clear Channel communications, etc. We also collaborated with Tieto, a Nordic IT company, to provide mobile wallet services in the Nordic countries targeting financial services industry.

We serve around 135m customers under our white label. We also highlighted our secure turn-key solution at this year’s Mobile World Congress. We will be launching the next version of MeaWallet soon. Available latest the 17th of June. Launch in US 19th and 20th of June at Mobile Wallet Wars in NYC.

Topic: Why are you adopting the white label strategy and not creating your own brand?

Response: Google play has 900 to 2000 mobile wallet apps. So that is a hit & miss kind of situation where many of these wallets get ignored. Then there are services like Isis which focus on a particular aspect by locking either SIM or some specific devices. They represent only one platform or a singular brand. Our aim is to be platform and devices agnostic - multiple modes through microSD, HCE, Beacons, SIM, popular devices like iPhone and establish a common standard. We do have our own brand, MeaWallet. We offer white label as an alternative to this.

Topic: How do you plan to adopt more payment technologies?

Response: Our MeaWallet solution incubates payment technologies like HCE (Host Card Emulation), Tokenization BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), NFC (Near Field Communication) and cloud based Secure Elements (cSE). We are considering other payment technologies.

We have already used some key technologies in other forms of solution. For example, in Scandinavia we collaborated with Bravida Fire & Security to provide a mobile wallet which stored all the key-cards used in accessing buildings. The key-card data was personalized and was provisioned to a secure element on the smartphone or on the cloud.

Topic: What are your future plans? Any significant announcements in the near future?

Response: We will be launching dedicated android and iOS apps on 22nd of May. We will develop a framework at our back end system which would be independent of the MNOs, retailers, operating systems and even mobile devices. Using the back-end framework, we offer a software-as-a-service (SaaS) that provides applications in a digital mobile wallet with secure communication and confidential credentials. Our existing customer and merchant can use the framework to interact with each other as well as we can allow other people to access our framework so that the merchant and customer base can be increased.

We are also in the process of developing a unified payment solution supporting NFC, Bluetooth LE, host card emulation (HCE) and QR as well. This will enable retailers, banks, MNOs and service providers to support a wide range of options for making purchases.

Topic: Are there any other companies providing both TSM and m-wallet services?

Response: Not many companies are there which are doing things we are doing. What we provide is a complete turnkey solution for TSM and Mobile Wallet. There is cooperation+competition in some cases where we work with TSM manager firms like Gemalto. We are working with worldwide partners including IBM, Tieto, Elavon, PayEx, Retain24, Bell ID, C-Sam, Visa and MasterCard to develop solutions supporting all types of smart devices and secure elements. In particular, we tied up with Tieto for providing IT solutions to financial services industry which includes mobile wallet as well as integration as well as consultation services. We tied up with Bell ID to integrate their TSM solution and support the over-the-air provisioning and management of applications on mobile devices.

The time is right for bringing the entire contents of your wallet into your smart phone, not in a multitude of apps, but in one secure mobile wallet. The expansion of our portfolio will take our services to the next level.