US start-up lets buyers photograph card to make payment

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US start-up ‘card.io’ has unveiled a mobile-commerce system that lets buyers take a photo of their credit card with a phone camera, eliminating the need to type in the information.

Smartphone applications using the card.io software activate handset cameras when a customer wants to make a payment. The user then places their credit card in a green frame on the screen and takes a photo. The technology scans the image for card details to complete the transaction.

The company says its system eliminates the awkward process of typing in credit card info on a mobile keypad as well as the need to carry around a separate piece of hardware.

In a private beta programme, card.io is now offering its SDK to iOS application developers, enabling them to drop the software into apps. The firm is already working with MogoTix for event tickets, TaskRabbit for local services and SamaSource for donations. An Android SDK is in the pipeline.

Founders Mike Mettler and Josh Bleecher Snyder – former AdMob employees – have also secured $1 million in seed funding from angel investors Michael Dearing of Harrison Metal, Jeff Clavier and Charles Hudson of SoftTech VC, Manu Kumar of K9 Ventures, former PayPal exec Alok Bhanot and AdMob CEO Omar Hamoui.

Says Mettler: “We’re betting that, over the long term, software will win out over hardware-dependent payment solutions. Because we’re software, we can scale and improve more quickly. Also, we can reach every device owner from day one – as long as you have your phone, just point and pay.”