February 23, 2012, 1:46 PM

Chase claims a local mobile option

The banking giant backs GoPago, a mobile wallet with big expansion plans.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

This view shows the available items at one participating merchant.

In the scramble to emerge as a dominant provider of technology that enables consumers to pay for goods in stores using their smartphones, GoPago Inc. hopes the backing of banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. will boost its chances for success.

Chase today has announced that it has made an investment in the mobile wallet company, though it declines to reveal the amount.

Chase will help GoPago through its relationships with millions of consumers and businesses, says Leo Rocco, GoPago founder and CEO. “Our partnership with Chase provides us with access to many millions of businesses out there,” he says. Later this year, Chase says it will offer free mobile storefronts through GoPago to many merchants. And Chase cardholders will receive offers and discounts from participating merchants that accept GoPago.

Consumers use GoPago’s smartphone app to buy items at participating stores. A retailer must accept GoPago transactions, and can do so with an application on a tablet or one installed in a point-of-sale system. Approximately 50 merchants in Mountain View, CA, and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas accept GoPago, Rocco says. On April 1, GoPago will add 250 San Francisco merchants, he adds.

A first-time user of the app enters a mobile phone number and creates a personal identification number. Then she enters a credit or debit card number to be used to make purchases. The number is stored in GoPago’s secure servers, Rocco says. With the enrollment process complete, the consumer then can use the app to not only pay for products but to order them, he says.

It works like this. A consumer opens the GoPago app and selects a city. Then she selects the venue. A list of available products appears. For example, at the Steakout restaurant, the consumer might tap the Experience burger. She selects the cooking temperature and number of patties before adding it to the cart. Then she taps either the Dine In or Take Out buttons before proceeding to the payment page. Retailers also can offer discounts and deals within the app. Steakout, for example, has a 5% discount when using GoPago.

Merchants verify the payment when the consumer holds her smartphone showing the digital receipt to the sales clerk who verifies it against a paper receipt generated by the POS system.

GoPago also supplies merchants with data about GoPago customers, such as recent purchase history and ratings they’ve given products, using the GoPago app.

Rocco says GoPago is distinguished from its competitors in that it can be used by a variety of merchants. “We’re looking across all verticals,” Rocco says.

GoPago is free to consumers. Merchants do not pay a start-up fee, but do pay 5% in per-transaction fees to GoPago, Rocco says. That includes payment card processing fees and access to the customer data, he adds. Those fees typically run to 2-3% of the transaction amount for most merchants.

The app currently is available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry smartphones.

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