Japanese Music Startup Beatrobo Take Their First Step in the Payments Ecosystem

Beatrobo, a Tokyo-based startup has evolved from an online service for sharing and discovering music to a hardware maker through which they are entering the payments space. The company launched a product called PlugAir last April. PlugAir is a dongle which connects to the audio jack of the smartphone and facilitates song, music video and other music content downloads from the cloud to the device. Recently, Beatrobo announced that it will take advantage of PlugAir to enter the payments ecospace. Beatrobo’s series B funding was led by Credit Saison, Japan’s third-largest credit card issuer, to support the company’s entry into the payments industry.

When the PlugAir was scaled and conceptualized, the company realized that it can be used in authentication and processing of e-commerce payments. PlugAir generates a 256-digit, one-time passcode for each transaction and sends it directly to the device via sound waves. PlugAir is Bluetooth/Wi-Fi independent, which makes the device more efficient and effective. According to the company, PlugAir is a token which does not contain any actual information; when lost or stolen it simply can’t be used. The product is trying to eliminate the tedious process of putting personal information for each transaction. The company is not interested in charging for the device, but the fee per insert will cover the cost of the product. The R&D team is working on alternatives such as NFC and Bluetooth without the use of audio jacks. Founder and CEO of the company, Hiroshi Asaeda claims PlugAir is more secure than standard PIN codes, passwords and even credit cards.

We realized PlugAir wasn’t just for music. It can be a physical key for anything in the smartphone age, replacing your IDs and passwords, Asaeda said to Tech in Asia.

Beatrobo has raised $0.6 million in seed funding from CyberAgent Ventures, KLab Ventures & Movida Japan and $1.1 million in series A funding from Lawson. The company has not disclosed the series B details funded by Credit Saison.

The LTP View:

Digital Payments is booming. And it is absolutely appreciable for a music startup like Beatrobo to venture in the payments ecosystem.