Total Apps

Zenius casts itself in behind-the-scenes role

As big name companies scrap over bringing mobile payments to market, at least one start-up is happy to stay behind the scenes. Zenius, a 3-year-old company based in Palo Alto, Calif., is a provider of several technologies that power mobile payments systems and has its sights aimed on being the service provider to mobile services providers.

Just last month, Zenius announced the release of a suite of new software solutions that it hopes will form the backbone of many NFC implementations. The suite features several core products, such as a mobile wallet and a mobile point-of-sale product, that give Zenius customers the ability to bring mobile payment solutions to market immediately.

The secret behind the suite is that Zenius offers customers the ability to re-brand, or "white label," the products. That means customers without the ability or time to create mobile payment offerings in-house can still bring payment solutions to market.

Jenny Rae Le Roux, Zenius' vice president of business development, said the company is responding to a growing need in the still-nascent mobile payment space: the need for a company that can provide payment solutions to a wide assortment of customers across a variety of hardware and technology architectures. While the company bills itself as "an NFC company" for the sake of convenience, she said, its solutions are much broader than that.

"The industry needs a new way," Le Roux said, adding that the industry "needs a pure software solution" that accommodates a range of applications and products.

The outlook for this "new way" is good. According to Le Roux, the company is expecting revenues to increase by thirty times over last year, driven by increased interest in Zenius' solutions from companies like mobile carriers and major online and offline merchants.

The company's revenue model is very flexible, with revenues coming from software licensing to consulting services provided to companies exploring mobile payments, she said. The company reached a milestone in the first quarter of this year when product sales overtook consulting revenue for the first time according to Le Roux.

The success of the company's products, she said, is based on the fact that its applications can be used across many sectors, including banks, financial institutions, mobile banking providers and trusted services managers (TSMs), without Zenius being involved in how the products are actually marketed or sold to end-users.

"We're in a very unique position," Le Roux said. "We're like Switzerland."

The company is obviously bullish about its prospects, but much of the optimism is based on the fact that explosive growth is still several years away.

"What we're seeing now are just precommercialization trials that are ready to be rolled out quickly," Le Roux said; however, the company doesn't expect the industry to actually see critical mass for a couple of years.

And when mobile payments does hit critical mass, Le Roux said that no matter how the industry evolves, Zenius will be ready to provide whatever services are necessary.

"I think you're going to see some business models that haven't been though of yet," she said.

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