ideo conferencing and streaming shows aren’t the only things getting a boost because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Turns out so are digital payments.
At least at Mezu, the privacy-focused payment app that launched in 2017. Since millions of people have been sheltering at home, the app has seen a 60% uptick in downloads and is on track to hit one million downloads by the end of the current quarter.
“People are generally conservative with their money and now suddenly they can’t exchange physical cash and can’t take out their credit cards,” said Mezu CEO and co-founder Yuval Brisker. “They are looking at different ways to pay other people.”
Likening itself to Zoom Video Communications, the video conferencing app that was made hugely popular because of the pandemic, Brisker said Mezu is trying to stand out from rival payment apps by making it easy to use, free to send and receive money, and conduct instant withdrawals, something the likes of PayPal
The lack of a fee when sending money and the private nature of the transactions are two of the reasons why so many people are turning to Mezu.“After listening to customers…I walked away with the understanding that half those people lost their jobs in the last month and they are looking for ways to reduce costs even if it’s $1, $2, or $5,” said Brisker. According to the CEO, most customers are using the payment app to send and receive money and using its Mastercard debit card online. In terms of what types of purchases they are making, Brisker has no clue. It differentiates the app by focusing on anonymity when transactions are made. Unlike Venmo that wants you to list what you’re sending money for, Mezu keeps it private.
Mezu isn’t alone in seeing increased usage as the pandemic continues to spread across the U.S. and around the world. The shelter in place orders prompted many people to stock up on essentials and use digital payments to pay. With stores shuttered tons of consumers are also shopping online, using digital payments as well to meet that end. While millennials have long embraced this way of paying their older counterparts have been more reluctant. But just like the pandemic forced hundreds of millions of people to get used to staying connected via video conferencing, Brisker said people are becoming more comfortable with digital payments, a trend not likely to go away in the era of COVID-19.
“There’s been a dramatic rise in the number of transactions and that’s been consistent over the last two months,” said the CEO. At first Mezu thought the surge in March was just a reaction to the pandemic but when usage was up again in April, the startup started thinking it’s more than a one-off trend. “People are discovering digital payments in general. It’s not just the main players. Other players in the market are doing interesting things.”