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Student run coffee shop tests mobile payments

The University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business is always looking for technical innovations they can introduce on campus to better educate students. They need to be familiar with the latest technology for us to be seen as legitimate by the industry, says David Corsun, the director of Daniels’ School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

That’s why the school is partnering with Denver-based mobile payments provider Mocapay Inc. to enable customers at Beans, the student-run coffee shop, to make payments with their mobile phones.

Beans customers have the option to download a Mocapay app to their phone. To make a purchase, they launch the app, enter the transaction amount, and then receive a unique six-digit code on their phone. They provide the code to the cashier and the amount is deducted from their prepaid account.

Merchants can opt to have customers punch the six-digit code into a pin pad or have a bar code sent to the customer’s phone for scanning at the POS. “We are agnostic as to what your point-of-sale process is,” says Kevin Grieve, Mocopay’s chief executive officer, but whatever process is used, “no customer-sensitive information is stored on the phone or passed to the merchant.”

“We’re the first to market with this solution,” he adds. Mocapay conducted trials from 2007 to 2009 and now supports merchant-branded gift and loyalty programs at 125 locations in several states.

Mocapay also uses its mobile platform as a marketing tool. Users receive alerts when new merchants join the service, customer satisfaction surveys and occasional reminders about their remaining balance.

Corsun says academic institutions need something like Mocapay for several reasons. The first is simple convenience.

“We know that most of our students have smart phones and many are reliant on their parents for their spending cash,” he says. With Mocapay, parents can replenish the accounts online or students can add funds from their mobile phones.

Mocopay’s software-as-a-service delivery model meant, “there was no hardware cost to us,” says Corsun, stressing that it’s difficult for colleges to get funds for any new capital investment in the current economic environment.

But most important for Daniels College, all of their students take a technology course that will now include studying the Mocapay project alongside a multitude of software systems used in the hospitality industry. “We see [mobile payments] as something that is going to be pervasive and our students need to know how to operate it. They’re not just learning that Mocapay exists, they’re going to learn the way it adds value.”

Grieve says the Daniels deal will pay future dividends, noting that, “as a young company, we need to build awareness and let people know what we can do.” The best way to do that is to “target industry leaders and innovative merchants, and students are the next crop of industry leaders.”

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