Startup of the Week / Has Cellarix Solved the Secret of the Cellular Wallet?

This startup may finally deliver on a promise we've heard before: that we can leave that bulky and all-too-real wallet at home.

The promise of a cellular wallet has been out there for years. No more need for that leather weight in pocket, they coo: we’ll be able to pay for everything using our phone. Yet it never seems to actually happen.

Most cash registers on earth can't accept payments from mobile phones yet. Physical solutions such as NFC — a chip inside the device that’s capable of communicating with cash registers — haven’t taken off.

Could that soon change? Cellarix, a small start-up in Ra’anana with 14 employees, says it has the solution. It has created an application, also called Cellarix, for iPhone and Android that claims to do everything a wallet does: transfer money from one person to another (P2P) and between a person and a business or professional, collect money and more.

“We registered Cellarix as a company in 2009. In 2011, we came out with our first system, which was based on the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), and in June 2012 we came out with a cellular application," Shlomo Zytman, Cellarix’s CEO, recalls. "We have tens of thousands of downloads, about 10,000 active users and thousands of businesses that accept payments through us. We work according to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, the strictest there is.”

Using Cellarix is simple. After users download the application, they pair their credit cards with it. At this stage, they can send money to a friend or business owner, who receives a text message noting the amount received.

The one who receives the money can do one of three things. He can transfer the money to his credit card and receive immediate credit at the bank, withdraw the money as cash at the Post Office bank or just transfer the money to someone else using the application. There is a thousand-shekel limit on money transfers between two people, and the fee for each transaction is the same: one shekel.

“We’re expanding Cellarix’s ability all the time,” says Zytman. “We’ve added the ability to request money from someone, which is excellent for freelancers, and we’ll soon be launching a feature that allows money to be collected from several people — what’s commonly known as an appeal. That’s good for collecting money from friends for a gift, for example. Many professionals use our application, like electricians, because sometimes the customer is stuck without cash, and Cellarix solves the problem. We can already interface with three common kinds of cash registers, and that allows them to receive payments via cellular devices.”

In early 2014, they'll be coming out with a version of the application that can be used abroad, Zytman says. "I’ve learned to be patient. I have no doubt that this is how payments are going to be made in the future. The question is only who will take the market. We’re in an industry that has Google and PayPal.”
 

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