Back in November, we asked whether mobile commerce would be Latin America’s next big success. One Brazilian startup, PicPay, is betting on it and launched this month.
PicPay is a mobile commerce solution that turns smartphones into virtual wallets. Consumers can use their smartphone cameras to scan PicPay codes found on essentially any form of media, from printed magazines and advertisements to computer screens and televisions. From there, they are able to order items and make purchases in a fast and secure way. To start using the service, all users need to do is download the app and input their credit card information one time only.
A Solution that Combines E-Commerce and Mobile
The PicPay product combines e-commerce and mobile – two of the biggest trends in technology today. Diogo Roberte, Business Director and Co-founder of PicPay, and Anderson Chamon, Partner and Co-founder, discussed the concept, “When we talk about online shopping, we are basically talking about sales being made from outside the physical store using a world wide web environment, which means that online sales always happen over an e-commerce platform. PicPay is bringing this concept to a different level. Now, online shopping can be done without the presence of a computer or traditional e-commerce platform. Online shopping can be done directly on billboards, newspapers and magazines, or even when the customer is using or experiencing a product.”
They went on to explain, “The key point of PicPay is to shorten the time between the decision of buying certain product and actually buying it. Currently, when customers decide to purchase something, they either have to pass through long online checkout processes or go to a physical store to purchase. Most of the time, these long processes mean sales never happen. With PicPay, when a customer decides to purchase something, he or she can finish the whole process in less than 20 seconds, simple as that.”
PicPay stands to compete against NFC-based mobile payment solutions already on the market. However, the PicPay team is confident that PicPay’s technology will give it a boost above the rest, ”Our technology stands out above NFC in many ways. NFC requires special hardware and infrastructure, while PicPay only requires the merchant to print the PicPay code and use wherever he or she wants. Apart from the infrastructure on the merchant’s side, the customer’s smartphone needs to come with embedded NFC for related products, which is not a reality for a lot of smartphones available on the market, including the iPhone family.”
Moreover, PicPay can be used to check out directly from the web. Thus, sellers can use the PicPay code on their e-commerce platforms, banners or even Facebook pages.
The tool is especially utile for advertisers and marketers looking to maximize their efforts. Roberte explained, “Rather than just branding, advertisers can effectively sell products, reduce costs and increase ROI for their ads.” Moreover, it serves as an opportunity for offline merchants to sell online without even having a website. The PicPay team gave us an example: “Imagine a typical small business that has its Facebook fan page to show its products. It can start selling online within minutes – the business only needs to attach the PicPay code to their images. It can instantly transform those simple images into new points of sale.”
A million-dollar investment from the startup’s founding partners and local angel investors brought the PicPay app to life. The product has required significant technological innovation in creating a solution that is easy for retailers to implement and for consumers to adopt. One big challenge to consider: The size of the barcode, which has been reduced to just 30×30 pixels so as to avoid taking up too much space in ads.
Following its early December launch, PicPay is now in the process of closing partnerships and getting more retailers signed up to use its service. It has already closed deals with Perfumagi, Ybera, Supflex, Kanui and Fluir. The startup will soon roll out a space for retailers to register for PicPay directly through its website.
And PicPay has no plans to stop at Brazil. Moving forward, it will commence operations in Asia, starting in Hong Kong, and by the middle of next year in Europe and the United States.