I read on The Next Web the following story: “American Banker” names Square’s Jack Dorsey Innovator of the Year, praises impact on payments space. It is a great article and Jack’s story is a great one. I am disappointed in American Banker. Mr. Dorsey did not create the mobile payments industry. He does not have the the most sophisticated or most innovative solution. So why does he get the innovator of the year? I think it is because he is the most popular individual in the space and that is primarily due to is creation of Twitter. Don’t get me wrong. He is deserving. I just think American Banker team should have made this award to the segment of the payments industry that Jack Dorsey is a member of.
I also read the Amercian Banker article authored by Maria Aspan and it is very well written. [disclaimer: I have met Maria in person and hung out with her at at least one NYPAY event]
I was unable to post a comment on TNW site. I had planned on posting the following:
"Jack was not first to market. His success in the payments space has a lot to do with his success at Twitter. I find his POS and wallet solution innovative. His payment dongle not so much. His peers in the payments space are all innovative. American Banker should have honored them all.
Many know Jack’s inspiration was in 2009. In a Fastcompany article - “McKelvey explained this problem to his friend Dorsey, who is a natural tinkerer, and the pair decided to investigate how the merchant credit card accounting process worked. It didn’t take them long to discover that there was indeed a way for McKelvey, and everyone else, to begin accepting credit cards without having to pay exorbitant fees. All it required was cutting out the middle-man, which the Internet is famously good at, and bringing the card swiping process into the mobile phone era.”
Many do not know ROAM Data, Inc. was founded in 2005. The following is from their LinkedIn page - Founded in 2005, ROAM is a pioneer in the MPOS space, having produced and distributed the industry’s first secure card reader; today ROAM powers mobile point of sale solutions for many of the leading players in this space, globally.”
I wonder if the two of them found ROAM Data when they were searching for a solution? I would have thought they would have found PayPal. There was no reason why Mr. McKelvey could not have his own merchant account at that time. The good news is he did not go with the status quo, he instead went to a buddy and they did their own thing.
I first found out about ROAM Data from the Verizon Get It Now app store. The feature phone I had at the time was the LG Dare. I got this phone as soon as it was available online in June 2008. It was sometime after that I found this ROAM Data app that allowed you to manually enter credit/debit card numbers into your merchant account via your cell phone. I thought that was great. The use cases I was thinking of in my head very similar to Mr. McKelvey’s use case.
There are many other innovative companies out there in the mobile payments space. I did some bug hunts with the card.io app on my Motorola Droid X2 smartphone before they were acquired by PayPal and my current favorite is LevelUp. Never heard of LevelUp? They are the payments company that did away with charging merchants the interchange fee. The language on their site is very well written: “LevelUp’s Interchange Zero™ payment network is a mission to eliminate payment processing fees forever. We charge 0% for all payment processing. We also provide the LevelUp Hardware free of charge. When a customer pays you $10, you get $10. Simple. It’s not just a business model, it’s a mission. We believe that moving money should be free.” How do you not choose them first?
These are just a small sampling of the mobile payments innovation out there. Jack is the most popular kid in the class but my no means the most innovative. The American Banker magazine should have known better. They should have recognized the leaders in the segment and not just the “big man on campus”.