Enabling Technologies

This Mobile Payment Startup Seems to be in a Real Dilemma


Clinkle, a mobile payment startup, is now distributing cash in the form of a vending machine for free. The company had received funding of $30 mn last year. Students of University of California have been collecting free $20 bills for signing up for the service. This also isn't the first time Clinkle has tried paying users to use its service. In June, the company paid beta testers $10 when they swiped their card for a fifth time.

Some are calling it a glorified and gamified Visa prepaid debit card program. Others are calling it “how to burn $30 mn of investors money”. This valley payment startup was the brainchild of Lucas Duplan, a student at Stanford at the time he conceived the idea. He went on to convince many Stanford students to leave the college and join him. Last year, he raised ~ $30 million from big names like Richard Branson and Andreessen Horowitz. Clinkle app finally launched on “select college” campuses it seems (Techcrunch had some back and forth on it).

Here is a list of claims which Clinkle highlights on its website for its service:

– “Swipe like your normal debit card to buy everyday stuff”

– “The more you swipe, the more you create what we call “Treats” ”

– “Send a Treat to a friend. When your friend swipes their card, they can open the Treat. Some Treats refund your friend’s whole purchase.”

– “Pay any Clinkle member instantly. No fees.”

– “Keep your stash on lockdown: we send simple alerts right to your phone. See how much money you’ve got left at a glance.”

– “Let your phone worry about budgeting. Your app keeps track of every card swipe and payment to a friend, so it’s easy to search for your last IOU.”

– “We keep your money safe behind 128-bit AES encryption, just like national banks. Lock your app with your secure PIN, so only you can open it.”

– “Your card account is insured up to $250,000 through the FDIC, and you can shop worry free at millions of merchants worldwide with the Visa Zero Liability Guarantee.”



MEDICI Team is a group of content writers, bloggers, journalists, researchers, and editors from the MEDICI who collaborate to create FinTech insights.

Apply to Become a Contributor