September 9, 2009, 12:00 AM

Popcorn retailer expects natural growth in payments via mobile phone

As he builds Doc Popcorn as a place to buy a natural snack food online, in stores and at the stadium home of the Denver Broncos, president Robert Israel figures sales will grow along with his customers’ use of their cell phones to buy popcorn.

 

As he builds Doc Popcorn as a place to buy a natural snack food through his e-commerce site, retail stores and the stadium home of the Denver Broncos, president and founder Robert Israel figures his sales will grow along with his customers’ use of their cell phones to buy popcorn.

Since beginning to accept payment through customers’ cell phones about a month ago, Doc Popcorn has experienced a largely favorable and enthusiastic response from customers, Israel says. “I think this is going to be pretty big,” he says. “People are excited about it.”

Doc Popcorn, which operates 10 retail stores in the Denver, CO, area, plus another 10 retail locations in sports arenas including the Broncos’ Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, and DocPopcorn.com, began accepting mobile phone payments about a month ago through a system provided by Boulder, CO-based Mocapay.

Consumers who register on Mocapay.com through a text-messaging system from Mocapay can use ACH bank transfers or payment card accounts to load value onto electronic gift cards offered by participating Mocapay retailer clients. When in a store, customers with stored value on their gift card accounts simply send an SMS text message about an intended purchase to Mocapay, which instantly sends back a payment authorization code the customer shows to the store clerk. Mocapay is also designed to provide purchase authorization codes for e-commerce sites, though none of its participating retailers are currently using that option, a spokeswoman says.

Israel, who says the mobile phone payments are as easy and fast to use as cash or payment cards, says he is also using the Mocapay system as a marketing tool. For example, he has offered other retailers in shopping malls where Doc Popcorn operates discounts on Mocapay gift card accounts they can give to their employees. “We’re starting a buzz about this among mall employees,” Israel says.

Mocapay also works with retailers to send text messages offering special gift card promotions to registered customers.

Israel, who is also planning to build a franchising company for his Doc Popcorn brand in partnership with a Hawaii-based fruit smoothie retailer, says the mobile phone payments have proved popular mostly among younger customers, but that even older ones are open to the idea. “If you can text, you can do this, but everyone is texting these days,” he says. “The time has come for mobile phone payments. We’re just a little early to the party.”

 

 

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