By now, most have heard of Swipe, the credit card terminal/scanner that plugs into the iPhone and that Apple has begun featuring in their brick-and-mortar stores. That gadget may be outmoded now, though, because a new one called Card.io, based in San Francisco and founded by two former AdMob employees, lets you swipe the card using just the phone’s built-in camera.
The Card.io app scans a temporary photo taken of the card and gleans the card’s information (number, owner’s name, expiration date) and uses that to process the card for a purchase.
Right now, Card.io is targeting the app at iOS developers who build e-commerce and similar apps (like local ticketing, travel, and so forth) as they are the ones most likely to quickly benefit from the technology.
Eventually, you could be simply holding your card up to someone’s iPhone at the mall, the pizza joint, or whatever and paying for your stuff quickly.
Card.io only began nine months ago and didn’t have a beta version of their app until three months ago, when it entered testing. The app is entirely automated – no human visual required. It pops up a square on your phone’s screen with test telling you where to hold the card. It then scans it, pulls the information, and then any merchant account plug-in (through the Web, a register, whatever) can process it.
Currently, Card.io hasn’t partnered with any merchants and is offering the app for developers who have their own. That will likely change in the future, of course. The information is pulled, but card images are not stored on the phone or card.io’s servers.
This is a very cool (and obvious) next step for card-present transactions on mobiles. The company claims high accuracy in the scans and the more the app gets used, the better it will become at it, since it learns over time.