Mobile payments start-up Clinkle has raised $25 million in a seed funding round joined by some of Silicon Valley's biggest names, including PayPal founder Peter Thiel and Intuit.
In a blog post, the San Francisco-based stealth start-up's founder, Lucas Duplan, says that he decided to build a mobile commerce app after travelling to Europe the summer after his freshman year studying computer science at Stanford University.
"I landed in London feeling a combination of jet lag, excitement, and, thanks to the selection of airline food, hunger. So, I went to buy a sandwich. I quickly realised I had forgotten my credit card and had nothing on me but US dollars. I instinctively grabbed for my phone, assuming it would solve this problem like it did so many others. But alas, it didn't," the 22 year old writes.
Duplan argues that money and commerce have been left behind in the Internet and mobile age: "There are close to one million apps in the Apple App Store. Yet, none let you comfortably go a week or even a couple of days without paper bills or plastic cards...In fact, most people around the world still rely on the same technology humans used centuries ago: paper and coins."
Returning to the US, Duplan launched Clinkle in 2011 with a group of fellow students, building a smartphone app designed to make it easy for users to pay merchants and friends.
The firm is keeping the details of the service under wraps, and has a noticeably slick but contentless Web site. However, participants in a small beta test at Stanford gushed about the app's intuitive and social nature to TechCrunch.
The app now looks set to come to "university students across America this upcoming year," says Duplan.
Among the big name investors taking part in the $25 million funding round - which will mainly be used to hire more talent - are Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital, Intuit, Thiel, former vice chairman of Wells Fargo Bob Joss, and VMWare co-founders Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum.
Brad Smith, CEO, Intuit, says: "It's clear to us that Lucas and his team have achieved impressive technological breakthroughs. Financial transactions are ripe for disruption and we're excited about Clinkle's potential."