UK shoppers to get zapped

Peter Keenan hails the upcoming arrival of Zapp as the biggest change in UK payments since the introduction of the Switch card in the mid-1980s. Mr Keenan is hardly neutral – he’s the Zapp chief executive after all – but the service he enthuses about may indeed rank alongside Switch (which ushered in the debit card revolution) as one of the major retail breakthroughs in recent decades.

Unlike other mobile payment services that have struggled to take off, Zapp has managed to get a number of big-name retailers on board. Two of the UK’s biggest grocers – Asda and Sainsbury’s – were unveiled as Zapp partners last month, as were other well-known brands, including House of Fraser, Thomas Cook and Shop Direct. They join a slew of other outlets that have committed to accepting payments from smartphones carrying the Zapp app, which is slated to go live next year. Mr Keenan says it’s the largest coalition of retailer support for a new payment method ever announced in the UK. (more…)

Operators cry wolf over investment?

A report by the Financial Times says large telecom groups in Europe feel burdened by EU regulation. So much so, claim the region’s big guns, it is hampering network investment. There is a general feeling among them that current regulatory practices, because of their unpredictability and bias towards resellers, is doing a rather fine job of discouraging investment.

In particular, telcos want regulators to stop lowering prices on wholesale copper access. Constant price tinkering, they say, is making them think twice about investing in high-speed fibre-optic access. How can they have clear visibility of the broadband business case if regulators can butt in whenever they feel like it? (more…)