Sunday, April 3, 2011

A feature suggestion for Skype: turning skype in a cash-cow machine for mobile payments

Mobile payments is an hot area, with startup like Square. This company is based on the very simple idea of plugging a low cost little device to a normal mobile phone for reading traditional credit cards. So your mobile will turn into a credit card reader. Not all the platforms are supported (just Iphone & Android), but the company got around 1M users in a short amount of time, $37M in funding and an evaluation of about $200M. Sequoia is one of the investor. Their business model is to take around 2-3% for each transaction. What I don't like about Square is that it is still not working with all the mobile platforms, and that you need to have an external little device for reading the cards.

I was considering how to use Skype to make mobile payments with no external accessories. A couple of considerations. First, Skype is installed on several mobile phones because users likes to make (video) calls at very low fare rates. Second, Skype has already a working billing system for each Skype account. The billing system is currently used for paying calls from skype to traditional phone numbers.   So, why don't they use this credit for making mobile payments?

This can work in a very easy way. Suppose that a Skype account A decides to accept Skype payments. A should register some identity/billing information (name, company, address, and so on and so forth). When a customer B wants to make a payment to A  for a given amount of money, the only thing that B should know is the login name for A. Skype will present to B all the already registered information for A, so that B can verify the identity of A and authorize the money transfer.

For example, say that Ely wants to transfer $10 to Lucy. Ely will start a request to Skype which will answer with all the registered information for Lucy (her address, her age, her town and so and so forth). Ely recognizes Lucy and authorizes the money transfer. Similarly, if Lucy wants to pay the company ACME.COM, skype will provide all the registered data for ACME and will transfer the money if Lucy recognizes ACME billing information.

Simply enough and already working. No external accessories, no need of having a new distribution platform, no need of creating a new billing system. The idea is already there and can be easily implemented by the way of Skype.

I would not mind if they will fund me with $37M for the idea itself ;-)


  1. There is such thing already, it's called PayPal. And there is huge law and legal difference between selling services and transferring money.

  2. Tomasz, obviously I am aware of paypal. You missed my point: skype is everywhere on mobile and pc, so it can be be used for selling services AND transferring money.

  3. BTW, Skype is already working for transfering money but in the specific case of paying Hotspot

  4. I like the idea! BTW, I think there is a typo in the blog post: Shouldn't it read "Ely will start a request to Skype which will answer with all the registered information for ***Lucy*** ..." rather than "Ely"?