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A new idea for an analytic business startup

Checks sent by email, rather than mail. The idea works as follows:

  • You (the payer) want to send a check to (say) John, the payee
  • You log on to this new start-up website, add your bank information (with account name and number, routing number) and a picture of your signature (the first time when you sign up with the service), then for each check, the dollar amount, payment reason, the payee's name and his email address.
  • The payee receives an email notification, and is requested to visit a URL to process his check.
  • He prints his check from the URL in question (operated by the start-up), just like you would print a boarding pass.
  • The payee goes to his bank to cash his check.

Note that this start-up could charge the payee 20 cents per check (it's less than 50% of the cost of a stamp) and have a higher successful delivery rate than snail mail (easy to beat!)

The analytic part of this business model is in the security component to prevent fraud from happening. To a lesser extent, there are also analytics involved to guarantee that email get delivered to the payee at least 99.99% of the time. Information must travel safely through the Internet, and in particular, the email sent to payees must contain encrypted information in the URL used to print the check.

Paypal already offers this type of functionality (online payments), but not the check printing feature. For some people or some businesses, a physical check is still necessary. I believe checks will eventually disappear, so I'm not sure if such a startup would have a bright future.

Read related article (other analytic start-up ideas)

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Comment by Ust Oldfield on June 13, 2012 at 4:09am

Hi Vincent, I don't know what cheques are used for in the US, but in Europe (and especially the UK) they have dwindling functionality. Barlcays has unveiled its PingIt app which is pretty much the same as paypal but doesn't charge for transactions. Even physical card payments are becoming vulnerable to these types of electronic payment systems. Barclays, again, has introduced contactless payment in the UK which has now extended to the mobile phones using various digital wallets and contactless payment technology.

Comment by Vincent Granville on June 4, 2012 at 4:53pm

Hi Chana: if you follow the Read related article above, and recursively follow all related links for all related articles, all the way to the first posting a while back, you'll discover all the start-up ideas that I have mentioned so far. Time permitting, I'll include all of them in one single document.

Comment by Chana Hercenberg on June 4, 2012 at 4:45pm

Vincent - How about you recommend this type of product feature and functionality to Paypal, and then ask them for a percentage (even a small one) of the profit, for the idea? ;) 

Speaking of which - I have great ideas that I could (potentially) share with businesses all the time, the question is how to approach them. So, perhaps someone could start a business of analytic folk who have creative ideas for businesses, and help them to sell their ideas - for a piece of the profit :)

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