FaceCash’s Aaron Greenspan Is Out to Kill Plastic with Mobile Payment System

2/22/11Follow @xconomy

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your taxes would be done,” Greenspan says. Because FaceCash stores information about its users like their addresses, ages, and genders, it allows merchants to target coupons directly to demographics they are trying to reach, like people who live within five miles of a store, or males between 18 and 35. The coupons are also easier on merchants than signing on with daily deals sites, which often demand a 50 to 90 percent discount on their products, Greenspan says. At FaceCash, a dollar-off coupon works just fine.

For consumers, the system offers identity protection. When the code gets scanned, a picture of the buyer pops up on the register screen, allowing merchants to make sure it’s really them. (Hence the name FaceCash.) To make it work, the company gives small businesses a free cash register program that works in a browser. As long as they have a computer, laptop, or iPad, they can turn it into a register that accepts FaceCash. For bigger companies, FaceCash can integrate with fancy point of sale systems, basically by adding a button. The service comes with detailed records of purchases for consumers too, and paper receipts are no longer necessary. Frequent flier numbers or grocery loyalty program codes can be linked, and FaceCash will even figure out your tip, or split the bill for you, something a credit card can’t do on its own.

“The idea is to kill plastic, and that’s a pretty audacious goal, but it’s going to happen within the next five years, somehow,” Greenspan says.

Greenspan isn’t the only one who thinks so. When FaceCash launched, it entered a crowded field of businesses pushing mobile payment technology, including well-known names like PayPal, Visa, and Intuit.

But, Greenspan says, FaceCash is different. Most of the other companies link mobile payment systems directly to your card. “They’re middlemen between your credit card and your phone,” he says. Which means that vendors don’t get the same financial incentive they get with FaceCash.

This set-up does mean that when consumers go online to sign up for FaceCash, they have to hand over personal information, a process that takes longer than say, signing up for Twitter. But because the site works more like a bank, the company wants to give its customer the protection of a bank, and that takes time.

Others like Verizon and Bling Nation are developing payment systems that use a radio technology called near-field communications to get account information from a device or a tag into merchants’ systems. But only a few phones have near-field chips so far, and Greenspan sees the technology as “a bit premature.”

And while going up against big-name companies is intimidating—particularly for someone self-funding his company with everything he’s got—Greenspan believes everyone is … Next Page »

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  • Joe Cardilino

    Hi Aaron,

    Are there any plans for ISO’s or will you be hiring your sales staff?