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Ask HN: Alternative Payment System for SMBs
2 points by digitcatphd 2 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 4 comments
I've been researching a new payment system designed to compete with credit cards designed to do two things:

(1) Remove the 'deadweight loss' in credit card fees (2) Outperform the incentive structure of all credit cards for their users

Venmo solves (1), but fails to address (2) because it doesn't properly incentivize users like credit cards offering cash back, and isn't perceived to be a legitimate form of payment for business.

My researched approach is to charge the same processing fee as credit card companies of around 3%, but rather offer an instant discount of the order at the merchant, rather than a points system. What this does is:

(1) Outperforms the reward system of any other payment system (2) Incentivizes consumers to spend more at SMB because they are getting a discount (3) Allows SMBs to pass on their fees to save the customer money (4) Creates instant gratification to the consumer

Because mobile pay is such a nominal percent of transactions, merchants would be given a small RFID sticker that could be appended to their existing POS or elsewhere and consumers would be given tap to pay embedded fabs synced to a mobile app to process transactions like credit cards. Fabs would not have numbers to avoid theft and would just have RFID embedded chips like YubiKey.

The payment system works the same way as Venmo. (I.e. uses the fee-less transaction technology in the way that payments are processed)

If anyone has ideas, open to hearing them below, or anyone interested in pursuing this research.

-- Notes --

There are of course other incentives with credit cards such as the chargeback capability and financing. However, it's been cited 86% of chargebacks are 'friendly fraud', which further incentivizes SMBs and disincentivizes at-risk users. Financing may be outsourced and points charged for the rights to do so.

First, I applaud your attempt at thinking-out a "better" system

The big critique is going to be getting the network effect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect) strong enough to really take off

Real-world example: Facebook is by far the most-well-known social media service

There are scores to 100s to 1000s of "better" social networks - but the problem of "everyone's on Facebook ... so I need to be there, too" strikes

"Everyone" already accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, Android Pay, PayPal, etc

What are you going to bring to the table that's not merely "better", but so much decidedly "better" that would actually make people want to switch?

Even one of the great successes in "new" (or, at least, "simplified") payment tech, Apple Pay, took a long time to take off - but had the advantage of 100s of millions of iPhones in circulation whereby using it became "free" (users only had to take 20 seconds to add their card to Apple Wallet, and vendors merely had to upgrade their card readers to be [Apple] NFC-compliant)

This is a very good point and I definitely agree that this is primarily a go-to-market strategy problem.

My logic fundamentally was the incentive system compensating for switching cost:

(1) Customers gain an extra 1% cash back assuming they are already using a 2% cash back card. (2) Companies now discount all customers 3% which gets them an additional 1% from cash back.

The logic was to put a QR code at the POS system to signup and send users the Fab in a specific neighborhood to routine business (E.g. Cafe, Markets)

However, as I think about the motivating factor for people to carry it around and use it... This is probably the biggest issue I guess, is it's either all or none.

>Customers gain an extra 1% cash back assuming they are already using a 2% cash back card.

But how? Your new payment system still has to be paid-for. The 2% cashback credit cards rely on two things: a 2.5-5% merchant fee (that you "never see"), and an expectation you'll never fully pay-off your card (so even with 2% back, they're still getting 8-27% from you)

If you're going to hold folks payment in escrow (like a bank essentially does wrt debit cards), then you have to get folks to deposit money to you (even if it's "instantaneous" a la Paypal) before sending it on to the merchant

If you're not going to be holding payers' money in escrow, you're now loaning it to them, which means you need to establish payment systems to recover from your users the bills they rack-up (ie - you've become a credit card company)

>Companies now discount all customers 3% which gets them an additional 1% from cash back.

What's the incentive for a company to discount their prices? Why not just keep them where they are, and pocket the higher profits?

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