Jumio Turns Webcams Into Credit Card Readers – And Why Merchants Will Welcome ‘Netswipers’

If it were up to Jumio, we’re all going to be ‘netswiping’ to purchase books, clothes, travel, FarmVille crops and whatnot online in a couple of years. The startup has been extensively testing its digital payments service in private beta mode since last year, when Jajah founder Daniel Mattes started teasing whatever they were building.

The startup has since assembled an impressive advisory board, including former Google exec Zain Khan, former Amazon exec Mark Britto and Maarten Linthorst, CEO of CSI Communication Systems. And we recently learned that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin and other investors pumped $6.5 million into the startup.

Today, Jumio is finally unveiling Netswipe, a technology solution that enables e-commerce site owners and Internet retailers to process online and mobile payments by having customers ‘swipe’ their credit cards using virtually any webcam. Think of it as Square for the Web, without the need to purchase and install additional hardware. Watch the video below to see how it works, in a nutshell.

Jumio is introducing three products for online merchants: Netswipe Start, Netswipe Scanning and Netswipe Processing. Additional products, including a mobile solution, will be released later this year.

The idea of processing digital payments by scanning credit card information isn’t entirely new, we should note. Last month, for example, saw the launch of Card.io, a startup that is developing mobile applications also capable of scanning credit cards using smartphone cameras, and some other applications like AisleBuyer include similar features.

Netswipe will, howevever, allow merchants to securely process payments both on the Web and mobile – and like Card.io, Jumio intends to enable third-party developers to integrate the technology into their own apps and services. It’s also worth noting that Jumio claims its technology is patented.

Jumio says credit cards that are used to pay for goods and services via Netswipe are not ‘photographed’ – rather, the scans are made using videostreaming technology, which enables the company to recognize and verify the card details without storing any data on the client side.

The main benefits for merchants to implement such a solution are: reducing the time between a customer’s decision to purchase something online and effectively making a transaction, minimize the friction (entering credit card information by typing can be tedious and distracting) and reducing fraud.

Jumio CEO Daniel Mattes says that, during the pilot phase, a survey with a focus group showed a decrease in churn rate from 52% to 21%. This may well have been more of an exception than the rule, but for most businesses even a 5 percent decrease would have a big impact on the bottom line.

Mattes posits that online retailers and e-commerce site owners can quickly and easily implement Netswipe on their websites, and that the solution doesn’t rival but instead complements existing payment solutions that have usually already been deployed (PayPal etc.).

If all this is true, the Netswipe technology solution is one hell of a unique selling proposition for everyone involved – little or no downside and a lot of upsides for sellers and an additional, convenient method of payment for buyers.

The proof of the pudding is of course in the eating, as they say, so I’d be very interested to learn from online merchants and e-commerce business owners what their thoughts on the new service are.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5_iuQ88fzg&w=480&h=390]