The race to cash in on m-commerce (that is, the looming billion-dollar mobile commerce marketplace) is on. A recent entry: card.io, a San Francisco-based apps creator that has debuted an app that lets the camera do the paying.
The way it works, explained co-founder Mike Mettler, is that a user takes a cellphone photo of his/her credit card and submits that image to trigger payment.
Taking a photograph, Mettler suggested, is dramatically easier than inputting a credit card number using a tiny cellphone keyboard.
He added, “The camera is fast, intuitive. It’s easy for most people to use. Our solution does not require new hardware. And we never store the photo, not on the phone or on our network.”
That last bit indicates there are no security vulnerabilities involving card.io in the event a phone is lost or stolen.
Mettler added that nobody else has debuted a functioning photo-based payments system - despite the obvious ubiquity of cellphone cameras – because “It is hard to photograph credit cards correctly. The raised, embossed numbers make for a difficult image to capture. It is hard to read cards reliably.”
Early card.io users include MogoTix for event tickets and TaskRabbit for local services.
Mettler, who said card.io has raised around $1 million in angel funding, indicated the app presently is available for Apple devices. An Android version is under development and should be released in a few months.
Bottom line: nothing is settled in the m-commerce space, except that this is the space to watch over the next year or two.