NFC provider ZAPA raises €1.1m from Delta and private investors

25 Nov 2011

Brendan McDonagh, who will hold a controlling shareholding in Zapa Technology

NFC mobile payments player ZAPA Technology has raised €1.1m in venture capital funding from Delta Partners, Brendan McDonagh, Tom Morrisroe and other private investors. McDonagh will hold a controlling shareholding in the technology firm.

The investors have established an initial fund of €1.1m to support the recruitment of 15 new employees and investment in research and development, sales and marketing, and customer services in the next 12 months.

ZAPA Technology was founded in 2009 and has an established customer base. It provides managed payment, gift, loyalty and couponing services to businesses, including mobile network operators and others seeking to revolutionise the point-of-sale experience for consumers.

Its ZAPATAG can be used by consumers for a vast array of emerging applications, including making payments, collecting loyalty points and redeeming coupons.

ZAPA’s existing customers include local loyalty schemes operated in Bray, Dundalk, Kinsale and Tuam. It also works with major brands, such as Insomnia Coffee Company.

Emergence of a new global market

McDonagh and Morrisroe were the original founders of Arantech, which they grew into a leading provider of customer experience management (CEM) solutions for mobile operators before selling the company in 2009.

McDonagh served as chairman and CEO of Arantech from 2000 until leaving the company in 2010.

“We are at the cusp of the emergence of a new global market which will see a step change in the customer experience of payment, loyalty and couponing and also see mobile operators become major players in the payments industry as they create an alternative to card-based payment”, McDonagh said.

NFC (near field communication) represents the next exciting paradigm in mobile payments, enabling consumers to use their smartphones as virtual wallets. In the US in recent months, Google launched its Wallet NFC-based payments platform on Android devices and Samsung and Visa are joining forces to deliver NFC mobile payments across London in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Apple is expected to put NFC technology on iPhone, iPad and Mac devices in 2012.

“We will build on ZAPA’s track record to date and will focus on developing new disruptive technologies and services directed at the new market created by the convergence of mobile communications and financial services. Our experience serving the needs of mobile operators over many years gives us a deep understanding of their needs and a particular ability to partner with them in innovating new value,” McDonagh said.

“We also look forward to continuing to invest in the partnerships with our existing gift and loyalty scheme customers and helping them to benefit from some exciting technology developments that we will bring to market in the coming years.

“These will include making payments in stores with the mobile phone as the wallet, or from vending machines; paying for tickets on transport; accessing events and venues and even enabling people to download information from and interact with media sites and smart posters,” McDonagh said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years