Based in San Francisco, Shift was founded by Meg Nakamura, Eugene Otto and Greg Kidd, a team with multiple background experiences, most particularly in payments, telecom and regulation.
Nakamura and Kidd previously founded 3taps, an exchange platform of data or postings from sources such as Craigslist, eBay classifieds and Backpage. The two founders also created Hard Yaka, an investment fund dedicated to startups.
Shift Payments initially came from a common project with two companies Hard Yaka had invested in: digital currency Ripple issuer Ripples Labs, and Marqeta, an innovative payments card issuer. In November 2013, the team had successfully prototyped a Ripple (formerly OpenCoin) debit card.
The official website reads:
“Spend virtual and traditional currencies anywhere major payment cards are accepted. Works offline, online, and internationally.”
The team had then decided to expand their existing prototype to a universal payments card that would process payments in digital currencies, loyalty points and fiat. The startup had integrated both Coinbase and Ripple accounts, and is currently working on the loyalty program and the traditional bank accounts part.
The debit card will come with a mobile app that will enable users to switch from means of payment on the fly. Shift partnered up with a major international card network in order to make the card usable online and offline, according to TechCrunch. The startup is also working with a payment processor, which will be in charge of authorizing transactions made in digital currencies.
According to Nakamura, U.S. banks have been really hard to convince, and one of their banking partners even pulled out:
"We learned very quickly that no bank here in the U.S. is willing to take that leap and actually support something like this. They were just too nervous and no one was willing to take that reputational risk."
Although a payment card that combines various digital currencies and regular money is already a major innovation, Nakamura believes the opportunity lies in loyalty points:
"Bitcoin’s market cap today is only US$8 billion. We’re talking about 6 times larger per year in just the loyalty points alone. We think it’s a big opportunity."
Currently, user can sign up for the Beta version on the official website, here.
- Shiftpayment.com homepage
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