Payments Provider Dynamics Raises Even More Capital Than Square! (Just Kidding.)
How ironic. There’s a ton of cash being thrown around to find a better way to pay for things.
Consider the growing list of participants hitching a ride on this money train: Square is trying to create a better register, Google is attempting to build a better wallet, and then there are competing and overlapping efforts being made by the wireless carriers, handset makers, banks, financial institutions and others.
For example, here’s a company doing something as simple as creating a more high-tech credit card, one that doesn’t require customers or retailers to buy new equipment.
Pittsburgh-based Dynamics is announcing a $35 million round of financing — an amount CEO Jeff Mullen is quick to point out is bigger than Square’s last round of $27.5 million (not including a last minute addition by Visa). UPDATE: Before the ink was even dry on this one, Square announced late this evening that it has raised $100 million in a round led by Kleiner Perkins.
Dynamics’ round was led by Bain Capital Ventures with existing investors, including Adams Capital Management and a number of undisclosed angels also participating. The company’s first round raised in 2009 totaled $5.7 million.
While Dynamics isn’t a household name and doesn’t have the same visibility as Square or Google, it has received accolades for its technology. In January, Dynamics won best in show at this year’s CES in the personal electronics category.
So, what does it do?
It is making a more intelligent credit card.
Although it looks the same as the plastic cards you carry around in your wallet, it behaves much differently. Packed inside are a bunch of batteries and miniaturized electronics that can be used to program several credit card numbers and wiped clean if lost. It comes packaged in the same svelte form factor as a Visa or MasterCard, and don’t worry, it’s also waterproof.
A button on the card allows users to toggle between various cards, like a debit, credit or corporate account. Another model enables you to keep your number hidden until a security code unlocks it, and a third model retains information about your rewards points, so they can be spent at the point of purchase without having to wait for a gift card to be sent to you in the mail.
It may not sound as fancy as waiving a mobile phone in front of the register to pay, or even using an iPad as a register, but Mullen argues it’s more practical because it doesn’t require consumers to get new phones or retailers to upgrade their credit card terminals. “Our solution doesn’t require any change to the existing infrastructure,” he said.
The additional financing will be used to double the company’s staff from its current headcount of 30. It will also be investing in manufacturing to increase capacity since all three models are currently in trials, including a deployment with Citi. It is also working on developing cards for Europe, where RFID is a predominant technology.
It is also adding mobile payments to the company’s road map, even though Mullen is not a big believer in the technology. Because of the hardware limitations, he thinks it will take longer for it to be adopted widely.
He declined to say whether the solution would use near field communication chips or some other technology. “Dynamics wants to be the innovation leader for an industry that’s never had innovation. We want to innovate in all areas of tech,” he said.
Mullen said the goal is for the banks to be able to save money or generate new revenue to offset the additional costs of producing a more high-tech piece of plastic. One way is through preventing fraud, another way is by eliminating the cost of mailing gift cards to consumers who would like to redeem the points they earned on rewards cards.