PayNearMe, the cash payment solution that allows users to make online transactions with cash, is announcing a bundle of new initiatives today, and what they all point to is the versatility of PayNearMe’s platform, which seems to be brimming with endless possibilities.
Among the new initiatives is a service that allows users to purchase transportation tickets online and pay in cash for their ticket. PayNearMe has partnered with Greyhound Lines to allow users to book their travel online, print out a slip with a barcode, which they present at their nearby 7-Eleven, complete the transaction in cash, and receive a ticket printed directly on their receipt. Or, alternatively, transportation companies can distribute PayNearMe-powered cards that customers can pick up directly in the 7-Eleven. Customers can then call the number on the card to speak with a customer service representative, read their card number to the agent, and book their trip.
In addition to its new transportation ticketing service, PayNearMe is also debuting a new bill pay service that lets users pay their utility bills in cash (see the image above). Some 10% of utility bills are paid in cash or money orders, and some $338 billion in bill payments is done in cash or money orders each year. PayNearMe has teamed up with InfoSend, a billing aggregator that represents over 200 municipal utilities organizations, to launch the service, which will allow customers to pay with cash by embedding a barcode into each printed bill. Customers can then take their bills directly to their friendly neighborhood 7-Eleven, pay with cash, and the biller is notified in real-time that the funds have been received
Along with that, PayNearMe is also launching a new money transfer service that will allow users to initiate a money transfer using their mobile phone and complete the transaction in cash at a nearby 7-Eleven. PayNearMe has partnered with Ria Financial, the third largest money transfer service after Western Union and Moneygram, to launch the service, which can send money to 134 countries. Currently, Ria partners with local bodegas to allow customers to send money by paying at the cash register, but by partnering with PayNearMe, Ria automatically has a nationwide footprint among over 5,000 participating 7-Elevens.
And finally, PayNearMe is also launching a new value remittance service that will allow users to add minutes to friends and relatives’ mobile phones anywhere in the world. PayNearMe CEO Danny Shader explained to me: “If you’re one of the major mobile operators, you have no problem getting your scratch off card on the shelf at 7-Eleven, but if you’re a smaller operator, you have no chance of getting distribution.” PayNearMe has teamed up with Sochitel, a provider of value remittances and a distribution partner for MTN, the largest operator in Africa and the Middle East, to allow customers to pay in cash at a 7-Eleven to top-up another’s overseas mobile phone account.
So clearly, given these four new announcements that have all rolled out on Tuesday morning, PayNearMe is quite the busy little bee these days. Of course, having interviewed Danny Shader earlier this year, he definitely strikes me as the type of guy who thrives on this kind of chaotic workload. But why all of the hullaballoo all at once? “This is a platform that can be used in many, many different ways,” he told me. “We have a lot more stuff coming.”
Like, perhaps, live events, which Shader said he’s very interested in exploring.
In essence—the possibilities are infinite given the fact that the platform is taking everything that is currently available to credit card owners (think about that—that’s a lot) and making it available to cash payers. The cash economy currently stands at $1.2 trillion, with some one-quarter of the U.S. population having no access to credit cards or bank accounts.
And the service is growing. While Shader likes to keep the number of users PayNearMe sees to himself, he did inform me that dollars moving through the PayNearMe system were 50% higher in April than they were in March, and the number grows as the company adds new payees (partners) to the system.