Delta invests €2.5m in Near Field Communication venture

3 Jul 2009

Near Field Communication is a technology that will feature on every mobile handset in the world within a few years, and will transform these devices into virtual credit and debit cards. One enterprising start-up is ready to pounce on the opportunity.

Zapa Technology will soon launch a pioneering customer loyalty technology across Europe that will take advantage of the Near Field Communications (NFC) opportunity.

The company has just received the backing of veteran Irish venture capital (VC) company Delta Partners, which is putting €2.5m-worth of investment into the company.

NFC is a short-range, high-frequency, wireless communications technology that enables the exchange of data between devices over about 10 centimetres (four inches) apart. The technology could enable the growth in the market for contactless credit cards and other forms of identification and transaction.

Zapa is the first company in Europe to deploy NFC technology in a scaled environment via the ZapaTag.

It is estimated that all mobile handsets sold within the next three years will be NFC-compliant. Zapa intends to bridge this deployment gap by the introduction of the ZapaTag and deploying contactless readers at the point of sale, showcasing Ireland as a model for the deployment and execution of NFC services.

Initially intended for use in customer loyalty schemes, the ZapaTag aims to be the next-generation technology for such schemes. It works by fixing the ZapaTag to the mobile phone handset, which the customer simply taps at the retailer’s cash register to receive loyalty bonuses and rewards.

The technology has the potential for many more applications, from the ability to redeem loyalty rewards from advertising posters to payment facilities. The ZapaTag also delivers a new level of market intelligence back to the retailer in terms of customer profile. 

Delta Partners will support Zapa in establishing its credentials in NFC in Ireland, with the intention of showcasing the country as a centre of excellence for the deployment and execution of NFC services in a scaled manner, reaching out to the wider and scaled markets of Europe. 

Maurice Roche, general partner with Delta Partners, who will join the board of Zapa, said: “This funding will help Zapa roll out a number of unique applications from customer loyalty schemes to NFC payments and help it secure a leadership position in this market.”

Zapa is the brainchild of leading Irish entrepreneur John Nagle, who, as former CEO of card payment services company Alphyra, has indepth knowledge of the payments, mobile and electronic retail transaction businesses.

Delta Partners focuses on early stage investment in technology companies in Ireland and the UK that are seeking to create new markets.  To date, Delta Partners has invested in over 60 technology companies, either at start-up or early development phase. 

Nagle selected Delta Partners over a number of other VC companies because of its knowledge of the Irish and European marketplaces and its strong track record in supporting home-grown ventures, particularly leading-edge technology start-ups.

By John Kennedy