PayPal Buys Itself an API

PayPalWithout the dot, "cardio" is Rule #1 in Zombieland. With the dot, card.io is PayPal's latest acquisition: the startup formerly known as Lumber Labs, whose technology allows developers to integrate credit card payments into any iOS or Android app with no additional hardware.

The idea is pretty simple: use your smartphone's built-in camera to snap a picture of your credit card, and the details are automatically read and optionally processed. Transportation services like SideCar and Uber already use card.io to take on-the-spot payments, and many other developers--ranging from Lemon's "digital wallet" to BarTab's "buy a friend a drink" app to 1-800 CONTACTS's contact lens purchasing solution--are now using card.io's API.

PayPal and card.io both promise that "[t]he current card.io technology will remain available to developers for use in their own applications," though it seems inevitable that PayPal will incorporate card.io's credit card scanning into its own mobile apps. New developers can still sign up for card.io's Android or iOS SDKs, and at least in the near term, allowing others to continue using card.io's services doesn't hurt PayPal.

Things could get more interesting if and when PayPal integrates card.io's API with its existing, global payment systems. PayPal's own API still depends on manual entry of credit card information, which can be tedious on a tiny smartphone screen. And though card.io's image scanning technology works globally--all you need is a decent smartphone camera and an ISO-standard credit card--its payment processing service only works in the United States. When combined with PayPal's ability to send payments between multiple countries and currencies, card.io could suddenly become extremely useful to many more people.

(Hat tip: PayPal blog and @cardio)


Curtis Chen Once a software engineer in Silicon Valley; now a science fiction writer and puzzle hunt maker near Portland, Oregon. You may have seen his "Cat Feeding Robot" Ignite presentation. Curtis is not an aardvark.

Comments

Comments(4)

I will pass... not sure if my bank information is secure with paypal. I've heard about bad things about them in the past. Currently I just switched from Square to mPowa (www.mpowa.com)... So far it's good for me.

This technology is cool, however it's not terribly secure. How hard is it to replicate a legitimate credit card? Or use a picture of someone else's card? At least with the magnetic strip readers, you've got an extra level of complexity for crooks to overcome (needing a card writer to fake info on the magnetic strip). Paypal isn't so hot on their fraud management policies. The merchant is usually the one who gets shafted.

[...] PayPal Buys Itself an API With the dot, card.io is PayPal's latest acquisition: the startup formerly known as Lumber Labs, whose technology allows developers to integrate credit card OS or Android app with no additional hardware. The idea is pretty simple … Read more on ProgrammableWeb (blog) [...]