Ex-AdMob Employees Make Paying for Things on the Phone a Snap

A company founded by two former AdMob employees is coming out of stealth mode today to unveil a new way to make paying for things inside applications much easier.

In fact, it’s as easy as taking a picture.

Card.io, which was founded by Mike Mettler and Josh Bleecher, has raised $1 million in seed funding.

Angel investors include Michael Dearing of Harrison Metal; Jeff Clavier and Charles Hudson of SoftTech; Manu Kumar of K9 Ventures; Alok Bhanot, a former PayPal exec; and Omar Hamoui, AdMob’s founder.

Card.io is focused on solving a specific part of the mobile payments business — buying things with a credit card on the phone, whether it’s digital goods, like a song, or physical goods from a site like Amazon.

Rather than having to type in the credit card number, users just hold a credit card up to the phone’s camera, which automatically reads the card information and enters the appropriate data.

Co-founder and CEO Mike Mettler, who was one of the original product managers at AdMob, left the company around the time that Google purchased the mobile ad network for $750 million. He said a four-person team has been working on the concept since August.

“It’s super-frictionless. It requires no behavior change and no hardware dependencies,” Mettler said.

The company is targeting developers who want to sell items within a mobile application. The company is launching a private beta today that will allow mobile developers to integrate the service into its iPhone applications. It does not work for browser-based sites or the mobile Web, because they typically cannot communicate with the phone’s camera.

So far, it’s signed up three developers: MogoTix for event tickets, TaskRabbit for local services, and Samasource for donations.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik