NEW YORK — Last July 7, Mobile Payments NYC Meetup in cooperation with Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator hosted a fireside chat with Bo Jiang, CEO of Privacy, a new startup that generates a virtual Visa debit card, so you can control your online purchases at Alley Midtown.
“You don’t have to worry about a merchant overcharging you,” he said.
Privacy does the worrying for you. It has to maintain a large cash flow, so it can handle all the money, technology and marketing.
How does it work? You install a tiny icon from Privacy’s Google Chrome Extension. When you click the icon, the extension automatically generates a new virtual Visa debit card. An iOS app should help you get things going if you’re not in front of a computer.
Launched in March this year, Privacy has 5 staff based in Brooklyn. ‘We’ve experienced 50% growth in the past 30 days,” he said. “Our no. 1 driver of growth is media and word of mouth,” he said.
“To keep us ahead things, our first hire was a compliance expert,” he said.
As it generates dynamic numbers every time you need a card, it protects you from credit card fraud. Its CVV works like any visa card. There are no charges to customers but they get a share of income from every transaction – as well as the banks they are partners with.
How are people using it? One would think the cards are being used for porn, but Jiang is quick to point out how porn only represents 1 percent of transaction. “Vast majority is subscription volume,” he said.
How did they convince banks and other partners to work with them? “We have been at this for two years ,” he said, adding how it took the company up to 9 months to work on streamlining the process with banks.
Jiang offers some perspective about his startup, admitting how the first 3 years has been rough. As advice to those just starting their business, he said it’s crucial to “make your initial product as narrow as possible.” You product, he said, may be too broad.
Jiang saw an opportunity in the business as banks usually think customers don’t like virtual cards. What annoys him about the payment system? “There are so many things that can be automated and faster.”
In terms of security, he said Privacy offers a layered firewall. “We maintain minimal information – we store your account and routing number,” he said.
Jiang pauses when asked a question about bitcoin, as he has dabbled on bitcoin for many years but from the way he talks about Privacy, he has clearly moved on.