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Upaid announces the launch of the first mobile payment service for store card bills

m-payment service enables bill payment of Cofinoga credit cards used in Galeries Lafayette stores in France

LONDON & PARIS – 16 February 2005 – Upaid, the mobile payments specialists, announces the launch of an SMS-based bill payment service for monthly store card bills. Store card issuer Cofinoga, part of the LASER group, which includes Galeries Lafayette, and the third leading consumer credit organisation in France, has deployed the service and branded it 'COFISMS'. It is currently being offered to Cofinoga cardholders who have an Orange mobile phone.

COFISMS is the first SMS application for mobile payment of monthly bills and represents one of the first m-payment applications for services other than digital content to be introduced in the market.

The service is based on Upaid's Text cheque™ application, which enables payment using SMS on a mobile phone for any type of bill that arrives on a consumer's doorstep. As an alternative to sending a paper cheque or enrolling in a direct debit scheme, consumers simply send a 'text cheque' to make payments. The hosted service is provided by IBM and Upaid in collaboration with multiple divisions of IBM, including IBM Wireless Broadband & Sensing Solutions, SDDC and IBM eBusiness Hosting Services.

When the text reminder bill is received, the cardholder can opt to send a message back confirming payment. The customer uses a password previously allocated during registration in the SMS to authorise the transfer of funds from a bank account and indicates the payment amount. The amount paid can vary from the minimum payment due up to the full balance on the store card account. Similar to a direct debit or automated payment, the payment is simply debited from the user's registered bank account once the platform processes the user's payment SMS. Merchants collect payment from the payment source only once the user has sent an SMS authorising that payment can be made.

Philippe Cessac, director of the COFISMS project at LASER-COFINOGA says "COFISMS enables easy monthly payments of the card account balance, leaving the customer to choose the amount to be paid and offering more control over when payments are debited from the bank account. This is an example of technology designed to make our lives easier. We envisage making the service available to our cardholders who are SFR and Bouygues mobile users in the near future."

Ashley Ward, CEO of Upaid explains, "This service is innovation in mobile payments and marks a transformation in our industry. It is an example of a new generation of practical mobile payment services to help consumers pay bills more easily. Many consumers don't like paying by direct debit so this gives our customers a way of increasing the chance of early payment and lower payment processing costs."

For users, COFISMS offers:
  • Convenience of direct debit but with the control over when payments are made
  • Flexibility in the amount that can be paid
  • Easy-to-use payment method, in almost 'real-time'
  • Possibility of making payments anytime, anywhere, via simple SMS – even while abroad.
Cofinoga cards are accepted at over 25,000 retail stores across France, including France's premier department store, Galeries Lafayette. Cardholders register for the service on Cofinoga’s website at www.cofinoga.fr or through Cofinoga customer service.

Upaid's Text cheque™ application has been designed for any type of mobile phone – no changes or additional technology on the handset is required. The same Upaid technology has also been deployed for Visa International CEMEA for the Visa Mobile Recharge Service (VMRS) for SMS-based top-up of prepaid mobile phones from Visa credit and debit card accounts.

For further information, please contact :

Mary Carol Harris
VP, Marketing – Upaid
Tel: +44 7815 757 431

Thea Macleod
Hotwire PR
Tel.: +44 207 608 4629

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