For many peer-to-peer fee apps, the best way to ship cash to different customers is straightforward — enter the recipient’s title or telephone quantity and the amount of cash and hit ship. But what if you wish to ship cash to say, your bartender or an area vendor on the farmers market, and neither of you must know particulars concerning the different?
That’s the premise behind Mezu, a brand new kind of funds app that’s launching as we speak to “let people give and get money without sharing any personal information.” The app is on the market to obtain without cost on each iOS and Android. The firm additionally introduced as we speak that it has raised a $10 million spherical, led by Pittsburgh’s Draper Triangle Ventures. JumpStart Inc., Draper Associates, the Ohio Innovation Fund, and North Coast Angel Fund additionally participated.
Headquartered in Cleveland, Mezu at the moment has 25 staff. The firm was cofounded by Yuval Brisker and Pedro Silva. Brisker, who additionally serves as Mezu’s CEO, beforehand cofounded TOA Technologies, which was acquired by Oracle for an undisclosed quantity in 2014.
Brisker informed VentureBeat in a telephone interview that he acquired the thought for Mezu whereas touring and discovering himself in conditions the place he wished to tip the parking attendant or lodge bellhop however didn’t have any money.
“I realized the payment apps that were in the market didn’t really address the need to actually have cash — they were more akin to what I would call a virtual check, meaning you’re sending money to someone you know,” Brisker stated. “But in fact cash itself is this tender that people give to each other, whether they know each other or don’t know each other.”
So how does a Mezu transaction work?
In the Mezu app, the consumer enters the amount of cash they need to give in that particular transaction. Then Mezu generates a one-time, distinctive, four-digit code that the giver exhibits to the recipient of the transaction. The recipient then enters that code into their Mezu app to get the cash. The giver may also set the code to run out after a sure period of time. The giver doesn’t obtain any contact details about the recipient as soon as they use the code — only a notification that “you paid $5.”
As with different peer-to-peer fee apps, Mezu customers can nonetheless create a contact listing to ship cash to folks they know by title. But Mezu doesn’t have a social feed element like Venmo, which exhibits different customers who that particular person has despatched cash to and for what functions — one thing that has resulted in a phenomenon referred to as “Venmo stalking.”
Users can sync their Mezu account to a checking account, debit, or bank card to withdraw or deposit cash. They are charged a three p.c price on every bank card transaction, and a 1.5 p.c price in the event that they choose the “Fast Withdraw” choice, which sends cash to their checking account that day. For customers who don’t have a checking account, Mezu additionally advertises the power to receives a commission and retailer cash in a FDIC-insured digital account.
In addition to Venmo, Mezu may even face competitors from Zelle, a peer-to-peer fee app backed by a few of the largest banks within the U.S., and naturally Venmo mum or dad firm PayPal, which at the moment counts 237 million active accounts.
The main use case for Mezu is folks sending money to different people, however Brisker says that the corporate can also be seeking to companion with companies, nonprofits, and different organizations to make it simpler for folks to donate. For instance, Mezu was a sponsor of the Los Angeles Pride competition this previous weekend, encouraging folks to donate to LA Pride on the Mezu app. In this case, companies can create a drop code that customers ship cash to.
“That way, it could very much be an impulse donation — people could donate during the festival and during the parade,” Brisker stated.
The success of Mezu will rely not simply on shoppers downloading the app, but additionally on service business staff. While Mezu presents service business staff extra management over their suggestions, it stays to be seen how enterprise homeowners would possibly really feel about their staff utilizing the app. A restaurant proprietor who swimming pools staff’ suggestions, as an example, may not be too eager on Mezu.
In talking with VentureBeat, Brisker stated he believes that the time is ripe for Mezu to enter the market, particularly following shopper blowback from the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook scandal.
“There’s hunger out there, for a new sort of generation of apps … that really focus on making sure people’s information is protected,” Brisker stated.