Imagine that instead of digging through your wallet to find your credit card or powering up your phone to open a mobile payment app, all you had to do was touch your finger to a pad and funds would be automatically withdrawn from your account.
The creators of PayTango envision that very scenario playing out in stores and restaurants, at gas pumps, and anywhere else payments are made – and they’ve developed the technology to make it happen. Created by four Carnegie Mellon University seniors, PayTango is still in startup mode but is attracting the attention of investors and was named one of 2013’s “Coolest College Startups” by Inc. magazine.
To register for PayTango, users put two fingers on the terminal pad, swipe the card they want to associate with their fingerprint, and key in their phone number. Any magnetic stripe card can be registered. That means gift cards, prepaid cards, loyalty cards and identification cards work with PayTango, as well as credit and debit cards. Once a card is registered to a user, all that a person has to do is place their fingers on the terminal pad at any merchant or other establishment that uses PayTango.
The service would be paid for through merchant contracts so it wouldn’t cost anything for users. Brian Groudan, one of the Carnegie Mellon students who created PayTango, sees a world where people can go anywhere without carrying payment cards or identification and simply use their fingers to show who they are and pay for services.
“We believe you should be able to walk into any establishment and prove who you are without carrying anything — no apps, no cards. PayTango can be used for everyday activities like paying for a morning coffee or critical scenarios like identifying patients’ medical information in a hospital,” says Groudan. Besides Groudan, students Kelly Lau-Kee, Umang Patel and Christian Reyes worked together to create PayTango.
PayTango came to life under the direction of another successful inventor. Luis von Ahn, the creator of an anti-bot online technology recently bought by Google, teaches the Tech Startup Lab course at Carnegie Mellon, where the students invented PayTango. The invention is part of Carnegie Mellon’s Greenlighting Startups initiative. The initiative has assisted in the creation of over 9,000 jobs and 300 companies in the past 15 years.