UK's Powa buys MPayMe for US$75m in mobile payment push

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 5:13am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 5:13am

Hong Kong technology startup MPayMe has been acquired for US$75 million by British company Powa Technologies, which aims to create the world's leading mobile payment system provider for the retail, telecommunications and utility industries.

"We both want to do the same thing: revolutionise the world of e-commerce," Alessandro Gadotti, chief executive at MPayMe, told the South China Morning Post last Friday.

The combined business, which will integrate MPayMe's Znap application with the PowaTag solution, counts more than 500 merchants and brands as customers in Asia, the United States and Europe. Most of these customers' mobile payment initiatives are expected to be rolled out in the fourth quarter.

Dan Wagner, the founder and chief executive of Powa, said the merger would see the value of the privately held firm reach US$2.68 billion after it paid with 3 per cent of its pre-acquisition shares.

"This deal reinforces the perception that PowaTag is the emerging leader, if not the dominant provider, of mobile payment solutions worldwide," he said. "None of [the other mobile wallet initiatives] have had any traction from merchants."

Research firm Gartner forecast the global mobile payment market would be worth US$721.4 billion by 2017. This estimate included merchandise purchases, ticketing and bill payments, while excluding person-to-person payments and mobile airtime top-ups.

Wagner and Gadotti said their PowaTag and Znap mobile payment platforms complemented each other.

With Znap, the PowaTag app can support a wider range of "triggers" for transactions on a smartphone or tablet. These include QR codes, near-field communications and audio watermarks embedded in live and pre-recorded television broadcasts.