Today Los Angeles-based Wallaby Financial, a “one card to rule them all” linked credit card, announced it has raised $1.1 million in funding from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund Angel and Chinese VC fund WI Harper Group, with participation from SLP Ventures, Lion Wells Capital, and several angel investors. The company, a graduate of the MuckerLab startup accelerator, launched in private beta in June 2012, and has over 10,000 people on the waiting list.
“We’re really excited about Founders Fund Angel, who’s been the lead, because they are the PayPal guys fundamentally, and their connections in the payments world and their experience building the most famous modern payments company is huge for us because we’re in that same space,” Wallaby founder Matthew Goldman said in an interview.
While they don’t plan to expand to Asia this year, Goldman also said partnering with WI Harper gives them a great in to that market. He also said that WI Harper has several connections with mobile device manufacturers, and that while Wallaby is focused on its card-based solution right now, ultimately they want to work with players who bring mobile payments to the point of sale. “While we’re currently focused on the Wallaby Card, as the way our wallet works, in the long run obviously mobile payments will take over, and we want to be working with those players,” he said.
Goldman said the funding will primarily be used for product development, expanding the team, and increasing the number of cards they can distribute. With a public launch planned for early 2013, and the Wallaby Card and accompanying iPhone app in testing with a small group of best users, Wallaby’s cloud-based wallet helps consumers maximize their rewards programs by automatically routing payments to the card that would get them the most cash back, points, or whatever other reward they have associated.
The Wallaby Card lets consumers connect any U.S. consumer credit card, including AMEX, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover, and set their preferences in terms of rewards (whether they want cash back, travel points, etc). They’re then issued a Wallaby Card by an unnamed sponsoring bank, which manages their existing accounts. Since it doesn’t actually give users an additional line of credit, all it requires are a user’s name, phone number and social security number. Wallaby Cards can be used in person or online, and purchases and rewards are tracked in an online account. The mobile apps will send users push notifications showcasing how much they’ve saved or earned on a daily basis.
The card is free during beta testing, but they will be charging for Wallaby Cards after the public launch. Goldman said they’re also actively in talks with both banks and merchants to discuss how they can partner in order to offer deals and incentives to users. Aside from working towards the public launch in early 2013, Goldman said they’re also focused on building an Android app.
While eventually the company wants to add mobile payments into its solution, right now it’s leaning more towards being a loyalty program rather than a digital wallet. With startups like Simple and Movenbank trying to provide new mobile banking alternatives for consumers, and mobile payments apps like Kuapay attempting to eliminate the need for a physical wallet, setting its sights on mobile payments down the road is a good strategy for Wallaby if they want to make sure there’s a demand for its product when the physical wallet goes out of style.