Peer-to-peer mobile payments offer privacy of cash with flexibility of digital transactions
You might be familiar with the rise of mobile payment apps like Venmo and Zelle, but what happens when you want to tip someone without giving out personal information like your name or phone number? Money app Mezu, which treats mobile transactions like cash, might be the answer. Where most value exchange is monitored by financial institutions or made visible on a platform’s feed, Mezu offers a P2P (peer-to-peer) payment option that remains completely private.
“We’re trying to create the ‘indispensable money app,’ which means we’re trying to create an application that can do many things, not just one,” says founder and CEO Yuval Brisker, who previously founded Ohio-based TOA Technologies— acquired by Oracle in 2014. “We’re looking to aggregate the worlds of banking, social transactions, and payments both home and abroad by adding the ability to send money without having to share your contact information.”
Incognito “giving” and “getting” lies at the heart of Cleveland-based Mezu’s approach to preserving the perks of cash. Current industry leaders like Venmo connect each user’s identity to Facebook, their phone number or email, making payments to peers an identity-revealing experience. Mezu allows members to send money without exchanging any personal information, think: tipping a bartender or a valet. No cash is no problem ‒ the app works with a unique four-digit code to ensure privacy for both the giver and the recipient.
Mezu isn’t only for anonymous exchange. It’s DropCode feature, which are fixed, location-based codes that allow users to give or get money, even if they don’t have their phone, was created for service providers who often miss out on tips. DropCodes have also sparked major interest from nonprofits, who look for a way to connect with younger audiences and collect “flash donations.” Additionally, Mezu has a standard “send” feature to pay existing contacts. With an eye toward increasing convenience, the app is striving to simplify mobile transactions worldwide.
An idea prompted by his travels abroad, Brisker and co-founder Pedro Silva earned the backing of Draper Triangle Ventures, Draper Associates, as well as Ohio Third Frontier partners JumpStart, the Ohio Innovation Fund and the North Coast Angel Fund. This support allowed Mezu to connect with investors and develop their “smarter-than-cash” solution. In fact, the region has remained important to Brisker with Mezu and TOA Technologies, one of Ohio’s biggest tech exits ever.
“I’ve lived in Cleveland for 15 years and I know its strengths as a place for entrepreneurship,” said Brisker. “We’re dedicated to staying and building our business here. I want to promote this as Ohio’s hometown money app because Mezu is one facet of our joint mission to cultivate this state and its economy.”