Movo Raises Seed Round to Build Venmo Killer

movoPayments startup Movo wants to convert every mobile device into a card-issuing bank.

Bank Innovation has learned that the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company raised a seed round of $700,000 on Jan. 31 and plans to launch next quarter.

The Movo platform will use prepaid funds to issue payment tokens called Movo Cash for use at the point of sale, online, or peer-to-peer. “It is a fully evolved payments and banking solution, like a bank account,” said Co-Founder and CEO Eric Solis. “The P2P functions will be realtime because they ride on credit rails.” Movo calls its platform P2A4.

Movo has deals in place with both Visa and MasterCard, but still seeks a bank partner.

“We’re interviewing banks now,” Solis said. “The technology is done and we’re ready to launch.”

There is very little tech that remains to be built out, in other words, so the funds can be used for staffing and servicing accounts. The company is targeting the 68 million underbanked, who can load cash onto the account via existing cards or accounts, or bitcoin. When a Movo user wants to send money either to a merchant or peer, he uses the app to provision a card on the fly. The app generates a virtual card to be used with systems that accept mobile payments.

It is in P2P payments that Solis sees Movo playing the largest role, however, and rather than emulating Venmo, a common ambition among startups, he wants to take it down. “Venmo has been a fantastic proof of concept,” he said. “We can do everything Venmo does and then some.”

Solis wants “Movo” to be a verb in the same way Venmo is — a lofty goal.

The company will earn money from interchange fees and will grow its business through viral networks, Solis said. This strategy is not as precarious as it may sound, Solis argued, because of the large number of underbanked and the growing appetite for realtime mobile payments.

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