And now there’s an Uber for cash.
I first became aware Nimbl earlier this afternoon, when I saw some skeptical commentary about it on Twitter. The idea, basically, is that you can use the app to call a Nimbl “runner”, who will bring cash to your location.
The idea might seem a little silly at first, like the latest startup catering to lazy techies — techies who, in this case, can’t be bothered to find an ATM. On the other hand, I can definitely think of multiple instances in the past couple of months when I needed cash, and there were no ATMs nearby.
A lot of other people have been in similar situations, at least judging from the handful of folks (inside and outside TechCrunch) who I’ve discussed this with. Almost all of them immediately said, “I would totally use that!” (They were less enthusiastic about the $5 fee, which is supposed to take effect after a user’s first few deliveries.)
Naturally, I wanted to try it out for myself, so I ordered a delivery of $40 to the AOL office in Manhattan. (That’s where TC New York has a few desks, because AOL owns TechCrunch.) Someone from Nymbl was at our doorstep about 20 minutes later, with an envelope containing two twenties. I showed him my order in the app, and after some fiddling with Venmo, paid him $40. Then he handed over the cash and we were good to go.
One thing that became clear in that process: Couriers aren’t driving (or walking or biking) around the city with your cash. As explained to me by Jim Luo, CEO at GreenOps (the self-funded startup that created Nimbl), the runners withdraw money from the company bank account — and they’re only taking as much as they need to fill the order, so they’re not traveling around with enormous sums of cash, either. Then when you pay via Venmo, or another service like PayPal, you’re paying the company.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the runners themselves, they’re background-checked contractors who work with Nimbl — Luo compared them to the people who do deliveries for services like WunWun and Postmates.
Luo also said that this is definitely solving a problem he’s faced himself, since “I literally never carry cash anymore,” turning him into “that guy in my circle of friends”, the guy who always has to ask his friends to spot him in cash-only situations.
And while delivering cash might not seem as intuitive as delivering food, Luo noted that cash actually has some advantages on this front, because it’s “purely a commodity.” That means Nimbl doesn’t have to worry about people getting mad if every little thing about their order isn’t just right— as long as you get your cash in a reasonable period of time, you’re probably going to be happy.
Looking ahead, he added that he hopes to work more closely with businesses. A cash-only bar, for example, might be willing to refer customers to Nimbl rather than sending them out to look for an ATM (and maybe find another bar in the process). The bar could also open a tab for them once the bartenders knows the money is on its way. Luo also suggested that businesses could use Nimbl if they themselves need more cash on-hand.
Nimbl is currently available in San Francisco and New York as an iPhone app, with an Android app planned, too. Luo emphasized that the service is very much in beta testing, and that he expects to work out many of the early kinks in the service over the next few weeks.