Camera-to-Credit Card the Next Mobile Trend?

Camera-to-Credit Card the Next Mobile Trend?

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Point, click and get paid?

That could be the next step in the evolution of mobile payments, as a new trend is allowing businesses to process payments by capturing a credit and debit card's information with a phone camera. While this technology eliminates the need for awkward dongles or additional credit card-swiping hardware, it also may bring up a fundamental consumer security question: is it safe to let someone take a picture of your credit card?

"Our process just allows for it to read the card," said Greg Goldfarb, co-founder and chief executive of Flint Mobile, a Bay Area startup developing such payment technology. "The information is uploaded through the phone and sent to the cloud. It is never stored in the phone."

Flint's mobile app — which uses the camera on an iPhone to "scan" credit or debit cards — launched in November of last year. Since then it has more than 100,000 downloads and business has increased tenfold since January, according to Goldfarb. In March, the company — which has nearly $3 million in funding — announced a partnership with NXGEN's subsidiary Fidano.

"People have to be more and more self-sufficient in this world, and with this you just need a phone in your pocket," Goldfarb said.

Flint is not the only player when it comes to no-swipe technology. Less than a year ago, PayPal bought one-year-old Card.io, which had developed a mobile payment process initiated by a smartphone capturing an image of a card and requiring no additional attachments. PayPal integrated the technology in its PayPal Here offering. Palo Alto-based Jumio also offers camera-to-card payment technology for businesses.

"My concern is consumer perception of someone using a camera phone to take a picture of their credit card," said David Kaminsky, a senior analyst with Mercator Advisory Group. "I'm not saying it's not secure, but rather what are people's perceptions? That's what's going to matter."