Cardfree Raises $10 Million to Enter the Crowded Mobile Payments Business

There are about 269 active start-ups in the mobile payments space, according to Jon Squire, the CEO of Cardfree, but he says what differentiates his company from the rest is the team.

Of the two dozen Cardfree employees, the company has veterans on staff from Starbucks, mFoundry (the company behind the Starbucks app) and InComm (a gift card technology company). “It was one of those things where we said if we ever get the money, we’d get the team together,” said Squire, who comes from CorFire, the company behind the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app.

Cardfree is a little vague on what its approach will be to the market. Squire says everything is on the table, including near field communication, barcodes, one-time authorization or PayPal’s approach involving entering a mobile number and PIN. For now, the company sounds a lot like a consultancy, with many of the brands requiring a lot of hand-holding to figure out what they need or want.

In the company’s month-long existence, it has already managed to sign up three undisclosed customers.

Cardfree will be competing against a ton of start-ups and tech behemoths targeting every aspect of the food chain, from loyalty programs to payments. A short list includes Belly, Lemon, Pirq, Square, PayPal and Google. “I think there’s a lot of noise with companies saying you have to replace the point of sales equipment, or use my tablet, or upload this software. It’s always about ‘let me leverage your customer to build my brand,'” Squire said. “My belief is, we can do more on behalf of their own brand and building a direct one-on-one relationship.”

To get started, the company has raised $10 million in capital from Jeffrey Katz, who founded Mercury Payments Systems, a payments processor.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

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