If there’s one thing we know, it’s that the mobile payment space is exploding. European players in this space include Monitise, Paddle, ValidSoft and left-of-field startups like Droplet. However despite operating in the UK since July last year it wasn’t known how one of the newer arrivals, Judo Payments, was backed. Founder/CEO Dennis Jones says that it launched with an initial $5M seed round. Terms were undisclosed but it’s understood the round was led by a New York based private investor which previously backed Euroffice and PaymentSense, both UK startups. The startup has now come out of a year long beta with some 2,500 merchants on its platform who pay on a subscription basis.
The interesting thing about Judo however is its focus on mobile above all else. While Braintree and Stripe come close, both have been known more as heavy-lifters in desktop e-commerce. Judo has tools to help developers integrate mobile optimised card payments into native iOS and Android apps with a single line of code via a single server-call architecture and “in-app intelligence” to reduce card entry errors. In addition to RESTful APIs and SDKs for iOS and Android, developers can offer card processing to their users with instant Merchant Accounts and control over funds flow. Developers can sign up easily to accept card payments with a subscription model pricing starting at £19.99/month.
Dennis Jones, CEO of Judo, says getting people to pay via a smartphone app – say for a taxi ride – is fiendishly complicated compared to straight up commerce on the web. For starters there is the whole problem of dealing with a payment query routed over a mobile phone network that might keep cutting out. And most mobile payment attempts don’t lead to successful transactions because users find that it’s too difficult or time consuming to pay.
UK taxi app Hailo had to build their own payment system to tie together the disparate pieces of user interface, Merchant Accounts, and gateway services. They then had to manage payments to their end ‘businesses’ (e.g. taxi drivers for Hailo), reconcile accounts, take a share of transaction for themselves, and manage the risk associated with taking cards. But what if you don’t have the resources to build this from scratch?
To promote its service, Judo is holding a competition for £1M in free card processing split between 10 mobile-first UK customers and has picked out the following apps to get £100,000 in free credit and debit card processing through Judo.
· BarPass – an app enabling users to order drinks from their phone to their seats at bars, pubs and events
· Theatre Ninjas – an app offering free and discounted last-minute tickets to theatre, comedy, and music events
· Metavurt – an app that enables retail businesses to engage with their customers both in-store and across social media
· Duchy Software –an app that helps entrepreneurs make money from their crafted hobbies and skills
· And a Stealth restaurant takeaway app that helps restaurants with customer retention, loyalty, marketing and order value
The second round of applications for Judo’s £1 million competition is due on July 23rd with the selections announced on August 5th.