Bump, With a Fresh $16 Million, Explores New Ways to Connect Mobile-Device Users—Q&A with David Lieb and Jake Mintz

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that’s where the big value is. If NFC becomes ubiquitous—and this is the fourth time it’s been hyped up and was supposed to take over the world, so it may or may not actually happen, we’ll see—it actually makes our lives easier, because we can leverage that as a connection technology and no longer have to put our resources toward what we see as the least valuable of the layers.

X: Mobile payments is seen as one of the biggest application areas for NFC. You guys have had a collaboration with PayPal for a while, where their mobile app uses a bump to initiate a payment. How interested are you in mobile payments as a bigger application area for Bump going forward?

JM: We think mobile payments is interesting, and through our partnership with PayPal we are doing some interesting experiments, but it really isn’t our focus. We actually think that most consumers and most merchants are pretty happy with their existing solutions. NFC enabling of phones isn’t going to let me leave my credit cards at home for a long time, if ever. All these companies working on NFC payments have these great stories about how it’s going to replace your wallet, but we’re not sure they’re really looking at it from the user’s perspective. If the consumer is happy with their credit card, and the merchant doesn’t want to change their hardware, where is the value to the people who actually have to adopt the technology?

X: Going back to person-to-person sharing. Right now people can use Bump to share photos, music, social network IDs, appointments, and contact book entries. Do you have plans to enable people to transfer more types of content?

JM: Absolutely. Even if we were only continuing on this person-to-person trajectory, we would need to grow the team substantially, because we think there are so many more things we could build.

When we try to figure out our person-to-person roadmap, we look at how people are already using Bump and who they’re using it with. Right now people are using Bump mostly at night and on weekends, with friends and family, to do social and self-expression types of things. The majority of what Bump is used for today is photo sharing—that’s about two-thirds of our traffic. The second most popular sharing type is music. What other things can we build that really fit that pattern fun, social, lifestyle expression? We can’t talk about exactly what we’re building, but it’s definitely a lot more things.

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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