By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Australian M-commerce start up Qpay is currently preparing to launch its first series of phone applications in support of its mobile retail business. The first apps will be for the iPhone and Facebook, and will enable consumers to shop remotely on their mobile phone.

Currently available primarily through SMS, Qpay acts as a medium between the retailer and the consumer, giving the former more means of communicating and engaging with perspective shoppers. understands that Qpay CEO Greg Walter has been in discussions with at least one of the major listed electrical retailers to include the service in the retail cache.

Once applications are released, consumers will be able to browse, order and pay for their goods on their phone. The interface, which has been test driven by, is much the same as online shopping, but with an important level of additional security. After an order is placed, but before credit card details are exchanged, the purchaser must authorise the sale though an automated telephone call. This protects users from fraud should they, for example, have their mobile phone handset stolen.

The release of apps is the next stage for Qpay, which is seeking rapid expansion in the Australian market. Currently a public unlisted company, Walter said the goal was to float the company by the end of 2011. Always on the lookout for more investment, Qpay has 168 shareholders, which Walter described as “mum and dad” investors. Walter himself owns 35 per cent of the company, which is capitalised at $42 million.

In order to generate more interest from retailers and consumers, Walter has appointed a Sydney-based public relations firm and is currently investigating marketing options. The Qpay service is not ideal for instant communication – demonstration and understanding will be key components of acceptance. So far, Qpay’s biggest client is surf lifesaving in Queensland, which uses the service in its fundraising drives. The step up to a retail model, with the additional logistics and overheads, will be crucial for success.