Dean Rizzuto spoke about Feed, which is a mobile payment technology. Officially 3 months old, they already have 200 merchants signed up. Any phone that can send text messages can use the technology, so the potential market is huge. Basically, you sign up on the Feed website, and give them some money. Then, when you are at a merchant that accepts feed, you SMS your pin to the Feed number. You recieve an authorization code good for 15 minutes. The merchant can then enter that code into either their POS system or a standalone, Feed provided and maintained terminal. The Feed system then makes sure you have enough money in your account, and tells the merchange yes or no, and, if yes, withdraws the sum and gives it to the merchant.

What does the merchant gain? Feed charges a flat fee of $0.19 a transaction, which is much cheaper than typical credit card transaction fees. Feed doesn’t provide the consumer the same protections as credit card companies, as the transaction is treated as if you had paid cash. Additionally, once someone has bought something with Feed, the merchant can send them special offers (in the future, possibly focused to the SKU level). I wasn’t clear about how a user could opt out from those offers.

What does the consumer gain? Dean was honest that they are targeting the youth market (the millenials) who use their cell phones all the time, and are interested in quick transactions. For someone with a credit card already, it might not be such a win.

I wonder how secure SMSes are, especially if you’re sending a pin that can be used to retrieve money. A quick search of the internet seemed to imply that SMSes are relatively secure, but that is a definite issue to me.

But, if you want to try Feed, text ‘pickle’ or ‘noodles’ to 39598 and you’ll get a one time credit to buy lunch, at the Spicy Pickle or Noodles, respectively. I think this might just be in Boulder, but I’m planning to give it a try. (I have worked with Dean in the past.)

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