Snapay aims at the unbanked with an app which replaces cash

There are two billion unbanked people in the world today. Unfortunately the banking industry isn’t very interested in these people, so they are forced to use cash. But even though 4.5 billion people have cell phones, including many of the unbanked, the distribution of access to cash via a mobile is at 1%, more or less. As you can see, there’s a problem to be solved here. Yes, Square, Apple Pay and iZettle all play in this field, but they require hardware.

Snapay is a new startup out of Paris that wants to solve this, but without requiring hardware and squarely aiming at the unbanked. Right now it’s accepting sign-ups for its public release.

The company says it works in 50+ countries and six currencies, with an app which poised is to be launched on the Android/Google Play store.

“We want to put the control of money back into people’s hands by removing all the barriers. The current players are over-reliant on hardware or fragmented on device type, country or bank,” says founder Elise Moussa. She created the startup after realising only 1% of payments are mobile and 85% of payments are still cash.

The product works with anything that has a screen and internet connection to accept payments. To make payments you also just need a camera on your mobile, and, the company says, all transactions are encrypted.

Customers register then sync their payment cards. To pay for something, you select “scan or pay”. At a point of sale you scan a QR code to pay. When not face-to-face with a merchant you select pay to enter a unique code.

Merchants register and specify where to send the incoming funds. Once confirmed you enter an amount and Snapay creates a QR code or unique code to present to the customer. With one scan a buyer makes a payment when the merchant creates a payment transaction request.

Snapay plans to take a small fee on the merchant processing side, otherwise the app is free for the customers/buyers.

The company, which is based between the France and US, is aiming for a Series A round after bootstrapping to date.