Ohio City — Remember the phrase "Cash Is King"? Well, apparently not anymore. In fact, a recent study found only 12% of people prefer using cash over credit or debit cards.
But paying with your phone could soon surpass all three. About a third of people are doing it already.
And a Cleveland-based company has launched a new service that’s very different from the services out there now. And even I could figure it out.
Because for those of us of a certain age, paying with anything but cash or cards sounds crazy.
But what if you're at a place that doesn't accept credit or you need cash and have none on you?
And how many times have you gotten caught in a situation where you’re like, where is the nearest ATM?
Well the nearest ATM can now be in your pocket with Mezu.
Here's how it works. Let's say you owe a friend money or you want to give someone a tip.
You just whip out your phone and enter a one- time four digit code.
Share it with to the person you want to pay and go from “give” to “got”.
"It's a way for you to give and get money without sharing your personal information, so it also protects your privacy," says company Co-Founder Yuval Brisker.
And that's the key difference with this app.
With other mobile payment options like Venmo or PayPal, you're sometimes exposed to strangers.
"In order to exchange money you either needed to give them your phone number or your email or you social handle," Brisker explains.
Think this is above your paygrade? Well, I would have never tried this in the past.
But I downloaded the app, linked my bank account (you can also use a credit card), and I was in business.
In fact my intern Henry downloaded the app in the middle of our interview, and I transferred him money within seconds. I don't even have his telephone number!
Now, Mezu isn't Brisker's first go around in Northeast Ohio. He Co-Founded software company TOA technologies in Beachwood, which was purchased by Oracle in one of the biggest buyouts ever in Ohio.
"I started really enjoying myself and loving the place and really appreciating the community. And then I became a die-hard Clevelander," Brisker told us.
It's why he chose to set up shop at the Limelight, a co-working space in Ohio City, and where he hopes the community will help make his start up a success.
Brisker says, "It's about giving Cleveland the kind of global technology company that we can all be proud of, and point to and say this was started here, it was supported by the community, because we can all help make this a success."
And here’s a bonus: If you sign up over the next few weeks the company will give you $5 dollars to start your account.
Mezu is the first two syllables of the word "cash" in Hebrew. Brisker is an Israeli immigrant who's been bringing ideas to life in Cleveland for the past fifteen years.
And that's One for the Money.