Payments startup Ribbon, which launched last year with a focus on making it easier to accept payments online across websites, blogs and social media services like Facebook and Twitter, is expanding in a new direction. The company is now working to develop a person-to-person payments service that will allow users to send money to friends over the web.
Though the company’s main website at Ribbon.co was reflecting what appeared to be an entirely new service, we understand that Ribbon’s earlier, merchant-facing product is not being shut down in favor of the peer-to-peer payments product. In fact, it’s still live here. Instead, the consumer-facing version of Ribbon will arrive early next year to complement merchant service, potentially furthering Ribbon’s reach.
Today, the majority of Ribbon merchants use the service on their own website, where it’s easy to add a line of code in order to have a fully functional checkout experience set up in a matter of minutes. As of last month, Ribbon had 10,000 merchants using the product, and saw 150,000 unique buyers who visited checkout pages. The company also recently scored Target as a customer, who used Ribbon as part of a Facebook campaign.
The consumer version of Ribbon, however, is not about buying and selling, but rather about moving money quickly between two people. It will include a responsive, web-based version of Ribbon which you can use without having to first establish an account – basically, it’s a web-based Venmo, from what we’re hearing. You’ll be able to quickly type in a URL, and then dash off your payment and note to a recipient from a single webpage.
This new product would compete more broadly with things like PayPal, Google Wallet or Square Cash, for example, all of which have a consumer angle to their services intended for those who need to pay back friends or family. (PayPal also acquired Venmo maker Braintree this fall, for $800 million in cash). But unlike Square Wallet or Google Wallet’s Gmail integration, the new Ribbon service for consumers is designed to work on the web or mobile web, not within email. Nor will it work over text.
An earlier version of the updated Ribbon website (now pulled) mentioned that the service would support Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express, and noted that payments could be sent via the web or mobile. The site has changed again today, offering still few details on the product, but adding that the service won’t hold your money for a week before you cash out, and won’t freeze accounts without explanation – something PayPal seems fond of.
Interested users are also invited to sign up for invitation here.
When Ribbon first launched one of its key features was its ability to offer a different kind of payment experience – one where payments could operate “in-stream” on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. But as the company grew, it seemed that merchants were more often using Ribbon’s embedding function on their own websites instead.
This spring, Ribbon also ran into trouble when it expanded its service to Twitter, allowing for in-stream payments on Twitter’s site. But Twitter shut Ribbon down almost immediately after its public debut, forcing the company to go back to the drawing board and then relaunch using Twitter’s Product Cards. No longer was Ribbon able to execute on its vision of real “in-stream” payments on Twitter’s platform – a factor that likely played into its decision to think about other areas in the payments space where it could have an impact.
We should hear more about the consumer service after the holidays. When reached for comment, Ribbon co-founder Hany Rashwan confirmed Ribbon’s new direction, and provided the following statement:
“For the last few months, we’ve been working on a new version of Ribbon that takes the technology and ideas that we’ve already built, and uses them in a different way. We’re not ready to fully announce the new Ribbon, but are excited for people to use a payment system built for +today’s age and technology.”
Ribbon is backed by $1.75 million in funding from AngelPad, Sierra Ventures, InterWest Partners, Draper Associates and others.
Update: 150,000 buyers refers to unique visitors, not necessarily those performing transactions. The article has been changed to clarify this.