Securing Digital Payments on a Mobile Phone

MagicCube

Digital payments have crossed the Rubicon and are now not only an acceptable form of payment but soon expected to become the dominant form. But the problem is small businesses are still hampered in leveraging digital payments for the convenience of their customer base. The below graph indicates the share of small business owners in […]

MagicCube

Digital payments have crossed the Rubicon and are now not only an acceptable form of payment but soon expected to become the dominant form. But the problem is small businesses are still hampered in leveraging digital payments for the convenience of their customer base. The below graph indicates the share of small business owners in the United States who accept digital and mobile payment methods as of October 2017.

Source: Statista

Similarly, IoT is no longer the future. Autonomous cars and voice-controlled assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home are already in our lives. All of these technology developments represent a new challenge in how to manage and secure our digital payment and IoT devices and infrastructure.

The MagicCube Business Model

The MagicCube solution helps in securing digital transactions on different devices, with the same level of security as device hardware solutions without the complexity and cost associated with hardware deployments.

While working with VISA, founder and Chief Executive Officer Sam Shawki witnessed that companies had to use Apple Pay to access chips while securing credit cards. This required an extensive hardware set up. This led him to embark on a project to create virtual chips.

MagicCube’s patented technology provides an embedded software solution in the existing hardware set up. Now, Visa users will not have to go to Apple to get tokenized cards. Rather, they can use the hardware of MagicCube on their regular devices via cloud by just entering a pin. Now the phone can be used to access payments and there is no need for a separate external device. A lot of companies used to give these devices to merchants for free to capture payments and lending business. But now, with MagicCube, the onboarding process does not require expensive hardware. This allows for faster and cheaper penetration of the market, and merchants don’t have to interact with bulky hardware for managing transactions. Now, consumers will not require credit cards to make payments and merchants will not need any hardware device for accepting payments.

The company charges a setup fee depending on the geography, specific requirements, and volume of the client. There is a fee for active merchants on a monthly basis and a software license fee for every user.

MagicCube Products

    • Mobile Payments: According to research reports, digital payments will overtake cash transactions by 2023. All stakeholders in the payments ecosystem need to conform to the latest technologies as well as ensure that these payments are as secure as those executed through chip-based credit cards. The company’s MC Token Shield will offer a device-independent, hardware-grade security for mobile payments without the complications of hardware. It will also render the excessive middlemen fees associated with current digital payments redundant. The company has achieved PC-DSS Level 1 SP Certification and needs just a single API for integration with any App.
    • Connected Cars: Device security in connected cars is extremely important. According to research, by 2020, one in five vehicles on the road will have some form of wireless network connection. The company’s MC Vehicle Shield offers hardware-grade security to autonomous vehicles for their most critical parts. It will not only reduce the hardware bill for the car manufacturers, but any updates in security standards can be handled like a normal software update instead of having to recall the vehicles.
    • Pin on Glass: Only 45% of US Small Businesses accept credit cards. The point-of-sale hardware costs and the complexity attached with operating them has made it too expensive for millions of small merchants. Pin on Glass technology allows for a regular smartphone to safely accept payment card PINs, thus transforming the humble phone into a POS terminal. The tech has the power to change the entire payments paradigm. MagicCube’s MC Screen Shield works on delivering hardware-grade security and cloud monitoring services for such “PIN on Glass” payments.

Who Are MagicCube?

Founded in 2014, the Silicon Valley- and Brisbane, Australia-based MagicCube is the creator of the world’s only Software Trusted Execution Environment (sTEE) platform, a technology that enables large-scale deployment and management of IoT and mobile-secure solutions for consumers. The company has raised over $10.5 million in funding from Bold Capital, Epic Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, and others. The company’s seed round saw participation by payments giant Visa.

Before launching the startup, Shawki was the head of Visa’s Global Remote Payments business unit. He was the driving force behind the company’s global push in mobile and remote payments. He also served as the chief innovation officer of VimpelCom, the sixth largest telecom player in the world with over 214 million customers in 18 countries.

Nancy Zayed is the cofounder and chief technical officer. She was head of engineering and operations at InnoPath, a founding member of OMA (Open Mobile Alliance), head of platform development at Cisco Systems, and also spent 10 years at Apple in various leadership roles.

Partnerships and Competitors

The company has entered into a partnership with Visa-funded Yellowpepper to secure token-based payments and is launching the solution in the Latin American market. The company has also partnered with ID Tech, a POS solutions provider for launching a product that will securely allow any mobile device to be converted into a POS terminal.

The young startup is competing with heavyweights like Qualcomm and Infineon, who provide security chips powering and securing payments today. But the CEO is confident that their software will soon make any hardware solutions obsolete. The company is also looking to partner with other players for launching new products and is in the process of attaining critical industrial certifications which will make the sales process much easier. The company seems to be in the pole position to change how digital payments and IoT devices will be secured in the future.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Taking Financial Inclusion Around the World With a Smartphone App

financial inclusion Juvo

Steve Polsky has a simple vision: Take financial inclusion to the world’s unbanked and underbanked by extending short-term microloans through their smartphones so they can stay connected on those devices longer and more conveniently. “We have an opportunity to walk hundreds of millions of people up the pathway of financial services through their mobile phones,” […]

financial inclusion Juvo

Steve Polsky has a simple vision: Take financial inclusion to the world’s unbanked and underbanked by extending short-term microloans through their smartphones so they can stay connected on those devices longer and more conveniently.

“We have an opportunity to walk hundreds of millions of people up the pathway of financial services through their mobile phones,” he said. “Nearly 80 percent of the world is on prepaid phone, but their usage is very different than in the United States.”

To that end, prepaid phone users spend trillions of dollars every year on transactions related to those devices. In fact, Polsky said, the most frequent financial transactions for a large number of smartphone users are done on their mobile phones. Many smartphone users prepay for their service by the day, but Juvo allows them to extend their service by borrowing the money to pay for it while building a credit history that can then be used for future credit. After starting in Latin America three years ago, he has taken his brainchild into 25 countries with 500 million downloads.

Juvo’s Explosive Launch

Chief Executive Officer Polsky founded Juvo in 2014, but the actual launch of the app didn’t take place until September 2016. Out of the gate, the company saw 100 million downloads. Growth since that time has quintupled, a big stretch of business from the launchpad of Guatamala and El Salvador where the first users logged in.

“Today, 43 percent of Guatamalan smartphones transact with us multiple times and 47 percent of smartphones in El Salvador transact with us multiple times,” he said.

From these countries, Juvo expanded quickly into Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. To get to the users in those countries, however, the company had to establish relationships with the mobile operators that provide the service to smartphone users. He spent two years setting up the infrastructure in order to do business and get the reach that he has. Currently, Juvo partners with Millicom, Cable & Wireless, and Tune Talk in the countries where they are operational. In the U.S., they work with Sprint. Every three months, the number of transactions processed through the mobile app doubles putting them on pace to register half a billion transactions by the end of this year.

Financial Identities in the Developing World

In essence, what Juvo is attempting to do is help people in developing countries establish a financial identity. According to World Bank figures, two billion people worldwide in 2014 didn’t have bank accounts. That was down from 2.5 billion three years earlier. At that pace, it will be 12 years before the entire world has a bank account. Juvo wants to make that happen more quickly.

“We call it identity scoring,” Polsky said. “In 83 percent of the world, there is no underlying credit scoring, no signals about financial capabilities, and we can reach a broad number of people to help them gain access to more financial services.”

Those services include checking and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, mortgage products, personal and consumer loans, business financing, investment vehicles, insurance products, credit scores, and more—services that many of us in Western societies take for granted. By bringing the world’s unbanked and underbanked into the financial ecosystem, they’ll have access to more buying power and consumers, and it has the potential to increase the service clout of companies with the ability to service them, such as online lenders. In short, a rising tide raises all ships.

Juvo’s Financial Clout

Recently, the company closed a B Series funding round with $40 million led by New Enterprise Associates and Wing Venture Capital. That takes their total funding up to $54 million including the Series A round completed in September 2016. On top of that, in May, Juvo appointed Ron Suber to its board of advisors.

They’ve also got backers across a broad spectrum of telecom and fintech sectors, Polsky said.

“We partner with these big mobile operators and help them with the way they service their customers,” Polsky said. “And we do it without charging the end customer.”

Instead, they provide the funding to extend mobile service for those consumers without charging fees or interest. A person in Africa, for instance, may be paying for mobile service by the day because that is all they can afford. But they can download the Juvo app and get an extension on their service for one day. After paying for that day’s service on their own timetable (no late fees) they are able to move up to a larger commitment and get funded for two days of service.

“So the consumer can move up as they pay off the previous commitment to bronze, then silver, then gold, then diamond,” Polsky said. “And we do it without ever using the words ‘bank,’ ‘loan’, or ‘credit’.”

This benefit is provided at the expense of the mobile operators, who pay Juvo a percentage of the extra business they gain by extended longer mobile service agreements with their customers. Everyone wins.

Polsky said the worldwide average revenue per user (ARPU) per month is about $12, but it varies in different parts of the world. In the U.S., it’s $30. In other parts of the world, the ARPU is $2.

Communication is a Basic Human Need

Consumers in various parts of the world download Juvo at Google Play, the Apple store, and anywhere mobile apps are available. Most users, Polsky said, are on Android devices because they tend to be more affordable, but the company wants to be available anywhere customers may download the app.

Worldwide, the smartphone is the most important device for most people because communication is a basic human need. And because computers are so much more expensive compared to smartphones, the smartphone is an entry-level device to access of much of what the developing world has to offer. Still, Juvo is a unique company even in Silicon Valley where it is located because of the global nature of its business and the channels through which they reach their customers.

“The idea of someone being out of data and needing to get more minutes on their phone and being able to borrow the money for that, that actually started in Africa,” Polsky said. “But we take it to another level. We’re willing to go up to a full month.”

In Africa, everyone is familiar with M-Pesa, a mobile-based money transfer and microfinancing service. That company is popular in Tanzania and Kenya. Nevertheless, Polsky doesn’t see anyone competing directly with Juvo at this point in the company’s lifecycle. That doesn’t mean there won’t be competition at some point in the future.

“Any time you’re doing something well, you’re going to have competition,” he said.

Right now, though, he’s focused on expansion.

“We’re hoping to partner with upstream financial services and with more big mobile operators,” he said. “That’s how we’ll grow.”

Author:

Allen Taylor