June 28, 2011, 2:44 PM

Card.io aims to make mobile payments a snap

The startup firm is targeting mobile commerce developers.

Lead Photo

Correct card placement is indicated when the green bars surround the card image.

Everyone with a smartphone knows how to take picture. Card.io, a startup firm, is banking on that as the company wants consumers to use their smartphone cameras to capture images of their credit and debit cards to pay for products they buy from e-retailers.

“We’ve spent a lot of time working with mobile payments and realize the purchase experience is still pretty bad,” says Card.io CEO Mike Mettler. Card.io wants to eliminate the cumbersome step of typing in a 16-digit credit card number on a small smartphone screen, he says. The hope is that simplifying the mobile payment process will increase the conversion rate for mobile merchants, Mettler says. “We want to start to help shift commerce from the web to mobile devices.”

Card.io’s software, when integrated into a developer’s mobile commerce app, uses the smartphone’s camera to capture an image of the front of a payment card. The consumer holds the credit or debit card in front of the phone’s lens and lines up the image with four guide marks shown on the phone’s screen. Proper lineup is indicated when the marks encapsulate the card image. The camera shutter is automatically trigged by the software.

Card.io’s technology gleans the card number and expiration date and sends that data to the merchant for payment processing. The exchange between the app and Card.io’s server is encrypted, Mettler says. Card.io’s software does not store an image of the card on its servers or on the phone, Mettler adds. The merchant gets the same payment data as though the transaction took place on an e-commerce site, he says.

Card.io collects a 15-cent fee for each scan from developers. The developer, who typically also will be the merchant, will continue to pay their routine card processing fees.

The app currently only is available for the iPhone, but Card.io is working on a software development kit for Android devices.

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