Credit Card Substitute
A Sri Lankan born software professional working in the USA claimed that his company has come up with a technology product that would make the credit card redundant.
Mani Kulasuriya, CEO Leapset, which has its development centres in the USA and in Colombo, told reporters on Wednesday that whereas credit cards are receipt based and need signatures, “Leapset” is operated from one’s smartphone, doing away with the need for receipts and signatures, with the picture/photograph of the consumer captured on the vendor’s smartphone being a key authenticator.
Smartphone penetration in the USA is 65%, Kulasuriya who has patented his product said.
Despite being a possible competitor to the likes of Visa and Master card, Kulasuriya said that Leapset has also partnered with such credit card companies, with the possibility of being acquired by them, thereby eliminating the likelihood of Leapset being a competitor of their’s.
He said that e-commerce has penetrated only 8% of the market, “we have sights on the balance 92%.”
Kulasuriya further said that in spite of the great recession, an average American consumer still has in his possession more than three credit cards.The company which began commercial operations as late as in September (after being around for 1½ years previously in developing the product) has already netted in Rs. three billion worth of business by catering to a restaurant supplier in the USA (with 20% of Leapset’s equity given to them in return) which has a network of clients, he said.
Due to the rapid growth of technology based companies, Kulasuriya also expected to grow by 10-15 times in the next one year. It was said at this briefing that comparatively new tech. based companies such as Apple was worth US$ ($) 550 billion, Google ($ 200 billion) and Facebook ($ 70 billion).
The company which employs mainly 16 IT professionals in Silicon Valley and a further 40 in Sri Lanka has provided them with a share option plan where they too cumulatively have a 20% stake in the company, while the balance is shared between Kulasuriya, three US IT professionals and another Sri Lankan.
He further said that Sri Lankan IT professionals were creative, but alleged that this creativity was being nullified by having to take instructions from their Western clientele and working on the relevant software projects dished out to them by such without being proactive. Kulasuriya said that much of Leapset’s R&D work was done in Colombo and said that their IT professionals are being paid above average salaries.
His product which is targeting the North American market plans to enter the European market (countries like Germany) in the next round and afterwards Sri Lanka. It was also said at this briefing that Sri Lankan IT companies were a good 25-30 years behind Silicon Valley while the closest country that has come to emulating Silicon Valley was Israel, backed by high technology innovation.