Branson takes a punt on stealth start-up Clinkle

Branson takes a punt on stealth start-up Clinkle

Mobile payments start-up Clinkle has secured fresh investment from Virgin mogul Richard Branson, and announced that it has signed up 100,000 prospective users ahead of its roll-out to US college campuses later this year.

Branson's investment in Clinkle comes just months after the mysterious start-up secured $25 million in seed funding from an illustrious group of VCs and private investors, including Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital, Intuit, former PayPayPal chief Peter Thiel, former vice chairman of Wells Fargo Bob Joss, and VMWare co-founders Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum.

Reports from early tests of the product imply that it uses high-frequency sound waves to transfer payment signals between mobile devices and merchant terminals.

Much like Facebook, Clinkle will initially be made available to college students, where critical mass may be easier to achieve among committed users and hyper-local merchants.

The company says Stanford University, University of Michigan, Duke University, Southern Methodist University, and University of Alabama are upfront in student sign-ups to the Clinkle wait list.

Alongside the new investment from Branson, the company has also released a teaser video:

Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 26 September, 2013, 14:54Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I don't get:

  • Most of the senior execs from the payment industry I spoke to shake their heads or laugh when it comes to Clinkle;
  • Sound at POS is an old hat - VeriFone has been offering that since their acquisition of Zoosh (same concept as Clinkle);
  • Clinkle transactions will be "card not present" unless card networks, processors and issuers approve Clinkle; 
  • POS ubiquity, on a practical level, is simply not there; 
  • Square is raising more money for their POS efforts (in, it seems, a downgrade round...)

and yet Clinkle keep getting more investors on board... Are they (and their original investors) THAT good when it comes to "rooting" (aka hype) or am I missing something big there?..