Mobile payment system Paydragon fights the food cart line

paydragonThe point-of-sale payments market is begging for disruption. The more smartphones invade our pockets, the more we’re all in pursuit of seamless transactions. Merchants and buyers both stand to gain, and perhaps the only looming issue is an abundance of competition.

It’s a big, roomy space right now, and plenty of platforms are ready to give it a go – including Paydragon. Paydragon (available for iOS and Android) allows you to order from local food carts, pay via a card saved to the app, and then skip the line to pick up your food. Merchants are pinged when you place your order and use the Paydragon interface on their end to see how long customers have been waiting. You’ll also receive a notification when your order is ready.

Paydragon was spun out of Paperlinks, the Y Combinator backed QR code startup that’s been focused on advertising. But the desire to make sales happen is what drove CEO of both companies Hamilton Chan to create Paydragon. “Really, in the end it’s about the transaction,” Chan tells me.

“We switched from B2B to the B2C arena to focus on the transaction and give value to the customer,” he says.

The payment app launched today but was introduced to a handful of merchants at SXSW – land of the food carts. “The number one feedback we got was that it was simple,” says Chan. “We debated internally over whether it was too simple, but merchants loved the lack of complexity.”

paydragon1Paydragon is indeed minimalist – to say the least. Chan describes the app as “uber-streamlined,” and with its limited tapping experience and visual aesthetic, he’s right. Merchants can choose a total of six menu items to list. You tap to reveal big, bright photos, and hit pay. It’s not only customers that benefit from this UI; in a demo Chan showed me the merchant-end of the software, which is also incredibly simple to use and understand.

While Paydragon is a fantastic, clean app and is at least initially targeting the increasingly tech-savvy food cart niche, I had to ask Chan about the competition. Square, Isis, Google Wallet, and PayPal are just a few of the systems out there making a play for merchant business and buyer loyalty – it’s an industry facing some serious fragmentation.

paydragon“I think there will be consolidation in the market,” he says. “It’s still a wide open field, which is really exciting for startups to get into and apply their solution to. But there are advantages for consumers in having one solution.” Chan says that users will start to commit eventually, based on the value for them in a platform’s community – something Paydragon knows and is working on. “We don’t want it [the social and game side] to be gimmicky. We want it to have real value.” As it currently stands, you get Paydragon points when you use the app that translate into rewards.

This isn’t the only feature in the pipes. Chan says Paydragon (currently available in LA and Austin, and launching next week in New York) will move beyond food. Through Paperlinks, Paydragon has connections with a number of big name product companies, like Neutrogena and Nestle, who are “dying to try out some kind of cool consumer solution.”

One thing you shouldn’t plan on seeing is order customization. Right now you get what you see: no “dressing on the side” or “hold the ketchup” caveats allowed. “I’m going to resist it for as long as I can,” Chan says. He wants to keep the service an expressway for ordering and keep it clutter-free.

It’s a good – albeit busy – time to get into mobile payments, and this simple stab at it seems to resonate with retailers and buyers well. “The difference between us and other alternatives is that with those you pay and then wait and line. With us, you skip it,” says Chan. “We’re disrupting the line.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Product Review

Size matters, and Anova got it right with the Nano sous vide immersion circulator

Thinking about trying your hand at sous vide cooking? Anova recently came out with the smaller, more affordable Nano. The compact and easy-to-store precision sous vide immersion circulator is only $99. Here's our take on the device.
Home Theater

As Amazon turns up the volume on streaming, Spotify should shudder

Multiple players are all looking to capitalize on the popularity of streaming, but it has thus far proved nearly impossible to make a profit. Could major tech companies like Amazon be primed for a streaming take-over?

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.

Bigger than Black Friday: Don’t miss the best Single’s Day deals

Thanks to AliExpress, Single's Day – the world's largest retail day – is no longer a foreign affair. If you're ready to do some early holiday shopping or want to score some discounts ahead of Black Friday, we've rounded up some of the…
Product Review

It's so fast it has a clip-on fan. But the Asus ROG phone isn't just for gamers

Is a gaming smartphone only something a mobile gamer should consider buying? In the case of the Asus ROG Phone, the good news is the device is so capable, and a genuinely impressive all-rounder, that everyone should take a closer look…

Our favorite ebook reader is not a Kindle. Here are all the best options

If you're a bookworm, an ebook reader can be an important part of your life, one that allows you to read your books whenever and wherever you like. But which should you get? Here are five of the best ebook readers available.

Samsung made a $2,700 flip phone with the brains of a smartphone

The Samsung W2019 is a high-end flip phone that comes with flagship specifications such as 6GB of RAM and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845. The device features a pair of S-AMOLED displays, a dual rear camera setup, and an eye-popping price tag.

Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei face off in an Android battle royale

The good news is that there are some great options in the Android smartphone market right now. The bad news is that too much choice makes it tough to decide. We compare the Pixel 3 XL, the Galaxy Note 9, the OnePlus 6T, and the Mate 20 Pro.

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.

Google’s Gboard now uses A.I. to recommend GIFs based on your conversation

Google is bringing a new feature to Gboard that should make it better for those that regularly use GIFs and stickers. The feature essentially uses A.I. to recommend GIFs and stickers based on your conversation.