By Kevin Woodward
With more $1 million (Canadian) in new funding, self-checkout app SelfPay looks to expand its reach within retail stores. Toronto-based Digital Retail Apps says the funding, which is approximately $764,402 in U.S. currency, also will be used to secure more patents.
Dallas-based Texas Ventures led the funding, along with capital from other U.S. investors. Digital Retail Apps says this is the company’s first outside investment.
Once a SelfPay account is set up, a consumer can shop with it inside the store. SelfPay taps into the iPhone’s geo-location technology to know when the device is inside a participating retailer.
After recognizing the consumer inside the store, the app displays a custom retailer-branded screen, which unlocks the capability to make a purchase. The user scans either the Universal Product Code or a barcode placed on the merchandise and generated by the retailer’s point-of-sale system. SelfPay displays an accurate in-store price and product description, also pulled from the retailer's POS system. The shopper then adds the item to her cart, selects a payment method, and enters a SelfPay PIN.
Upon exiting the store, a sales clerk scans a barcode generated on the consumer’s phone by the SelfPay app to ensure products are paid for. Available payment methods are credit and debit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay.
The funding will enable Digital Retail Apps, led by Wendy MacKinnon Keith, founder and chief executive, to talk to more retailers, especially those outside of North America. Keith says discussions are ongoing with retailers in Europe, Canada, and the United States.
Interest in SelfPay, which relies on digitizing the payment method to make the transaction secure and speedy, could increase because of the impending U.S. migration to EMV, which involves dipping a payment card instead of swiping it through a point-of-sale terminal.
“If we can make a payment in-app, it’s a much more secure and seamless transaction when digitized,” Keith tells Digital Transactions News.
The real value of apps like SelfPay is for consumers and merchants, suggests Rick Oglesby, senior research analyst at Double Diamond Payments Research, Centennial, Colo. “When you consider that consumers all have fully functioning POS systems in the palms of their hands, it seems rather silly to stand in line for a checkout,” Oglesby tells Digital Transactions News via email. “However, consumer and merchant behavior is entrenched, so self checkout is an idea that will keep iterating until consumers, merchants, and technology providers figure out the best way to make it work for everyone.”
Updates for SelfPay are already in development, Keith says, including adding other payment methods, enabling the app to provide offers while the consumer is shopping in a store, and integrating SelfPay data to retailer’s back-office systems.
SelfPay represents the latest iteration of efforts to let smart-phone-wielding consumers shop and pay for merchandise inside stores without standing in checkout lines. One of the first startups to specialize in this technology, AisleBuyer LLC, in 2011 signed agreements with several retailers accounting for 19,000 locations before it was acquired the following year by Intuit Inc.