Kuapay: enabling virtualization of cards

Consumers are finding it a hassle carrying cash or cards viz a viz: debit/credit cards, loyalty cards, membership cards. It might not sound like a big issue in the context of developing/emerging markets but in developed markets, it is a popular issue. Quite often, we see number of start-ups coming up with their unique ideas of making the process of using mobile wallets for (say) e-commerce fast, easy and safe. And one such company in this world of e-commerce business is Kuapay payments.

Kuapay payments was found in 2011 by Joaquin Ayuso de Paul who happens to be the co-founder of which was called as Spanish Facebook and then sold at $100mn to He started Kuapay payments with the aim of creating a mobile wallet where all the cards can be virtualized so that you can pay with the cards at any POS which is Kuapay enabled. From being available at 40 transaction points, it is available in 600 locations as of today. Started with seed funding of $900,000, it got another round of funding for $4mn in initial phase of startup. And this is reflection of the opportunity/excitement that angel investors and venture capitalist see in the future of mobile wallets.

What makes Kuapay payments click?

It enables all the cards (debit/credit, loyalty, membership) get fit into one app. Kuapay app is available for free for all iOS, Android and Blackberry. To attract people to download the app, it gifted a meal voucher worth $15 per download. The app provides with the facility of locating nearby stores that have kuapay payments system enabled. Also, in terms of security, at POS, there is no need to enter the card details. Rather the details remain safe in Kuapay vaults and the customer uses the QR code which is one time usable code which strengthens the security process. Though it charges vendors and merchants a percentage of the order payment made through kuapay, yet it incentivizes them by providing customer loyalty programs. And this is what makes Kuapay payments click. After all, it is not just about easing the process of making payment but also how do you prove beneficial to your stakeholders (primarily merchants and customers in this case). Another smart feature Kuapay has is that the coupons, punchcard punches, offers, etc. information can be transmitted during the barcode scanning process.

Kuapay does not require merchants or customers to buy a new hardware which is a win-win situation. Though, currently Kuapay is not NFC (Near Field Communication) dependent but has provision to do so. Unlike other mobile wallets, QR codes generated by Kuapay system do not contain any personal information or card details that would run the risk of losing. All the data gets encrypted before it interacts with Kuapay servers. Adding to it, it doesn’t limit the number of cards that can be made available in the mobile wallet. Last but not the least, if customer’s phone gets lost, the complete payment system can be disabled via the website.

LTP View: With the intention of eliminating fraud, ease of use and providing a good mobile wallet experience, Kuapay is eyeing to target the $600 Bn potential market worldwide. The beta program with KFC at 100 stores in the US has helped to finetune the offering. With an average American having more than 3.5 cards, Kuapay’s strategy of not putting any limit on number of cards that can be virtualized could be good. We recently saw Google shifting gears and making Google wallet less about 'just payments' and more of storing loyalty cards, coupons, payment cards and . The mobile wallet trend is certainly to provide a complete solution including store, get discounts, transact, get rewards, refer, and locate.