Social payment provider Akimbo has launched a co-branding platform that enables banks and credit unions to offer Visa prepaid cards that connect to Facebook accounts for money movement.
The product is an adaptation of its prepaid "allowance cards," but designed to appeal to a wider audience.
"It's not a teen card, we're not focusing on just that little niche," says Houston Frost, co-founder and CEO of Akimbo. "It's a prepaid card that can deliver money to anyone at any time."
The company will continue to sell directly to consumers, but from now on its primary focus will be small to mid-sized financial institutions, which can offer the cards to their own customers. Akimbo's clients will receive a revenue share.
"The Akimbo card is a companion to a bank, you can use it as a travel card or as a budgeting tool, for example," Frost says.
The company also plans to use an adaptive Web dashboard and Facebook-connected payments as lures for issuers and consumers.
Akimbo is allows user to post transactions to their Facebook feeds. The company additionally uses Facebook to identify a user's Facebook Friends that have an Akimbo card.
"So, when you log in to your Akimbo account, you will see all of your friends that have Akimbo and you can send money to them instantly," Frost says.
To use Akimbo, consumers sign up for free and load the card from their bank account or other funding source. The user can then create "sub cards" for friends and familytypical use cases include allowances for kids or paying a babysitter. Akimbo cards don't carry monthly maintenance fees, though there are fees for certain transactions.
Akimbo's new Web and mobile dashboard will go live later this month. The Web platform is built using HTML5, which allows programmers to adapt the dashboard to the computer or mobile device used to access it.
The dashboard includes a list of recent transactions and recent payees. The dashboard displays a list of family and friends who hold sub-cards, and a recipient picker that allows users to choose from that group to send a transfer or make a payment.
Users can also attach photos to transactions. "Maybe I want to take a picture of the group at dinner and attach it to the purchase transaction in my transaction history," Frost says. "This is also useful if you'd like to attach a picture of a receipt."
Frost did not disclose financial institution partners, saying there are eight contracts outstanding.
Other companies are also folding social networks into payments. Chirpify processes payments initiated on Twitter and other social networks, Realex uses Facebook profiles as a means to execute payments, and WePay uses Facebook profiles for risk management.
Facebook, a licensed money transmitter in many states, also plans a service that allows users to use their Facebook accounts as authentication for e-commerce transactions.
There is some traction for these systems, but it's still early stage, says Aleia Van Dyke, a payments analyst at Javelin Strategy & Research.
"We haven't seen too much out there in terms of using pictures to send money. It isn't a huge market, but it will be interesting to see what takes off," Van Dyke says, adding there is still a reluctance among consumers to share payment information in social networks.