Visa launched the Everywhere Initiative last year as a way to team up with innovative startups to help power the future of payments. As a preview to the Initiative’s second year, Visa invited five exciting startups to pitch an idea using Visa APIs in Austin this month. The Everywhere Initiative: API Challenge will be one of the three challenges for this year’s competition that open to everyone on April 14.
Startups participating in the live pitch event included msg.ai, which pitched a way for consumers to use Visa Checkout while messaging with a retailer; Ledge proposed integrating Visa Direct to power fund exchange in its community-powered lending campaigns; Hiku also pitched an idea using Visa Direct to allow brands to offer deals on its device; Eventbase pitched how it can integrate APIs like the Visa Checkout API to offer VIP exclusivity to Visa cardholders; Knocki proposed using Visa APIs to power Internet of Things (IoT) purchases, such as tapping your washing machine five times to order detergent.
And the winner is…
Ledge, a mobile finance platform based out of Los Angeles, pitched the winning idea to a panel of judges during the Everywhere Initiative Live Pitch event in Austin. The P2P lending platform uses a campaign structure similar to that of popular crowdfunding platforms, except pledges are automatically repaid with interest.
The idea: Ledge proposed a prototype that would integrate with Visa Direct to power the exchange of funds in Ledge campaigns, enabling die-hard sports fans to finance a ticket to their dream sporting event or travelers to fund a bucket-list trip, for example, and then automatically repay friends, families and strangers quickly and easily. A panel of Visa technology leaders, including Sam Shrauger, SVP of Digital Solutions, Susan French, VP of Global Product and Shiv Singh, SVP Global Head of Digital & Marketing Transformation at Visa and Denise Persson, CMO of Apigee, chose Ledge out of the five participating startups as the winner of the first Everywhere Initiative: API
“We were especially impressed with their solid leadership, how well the prototype would align with the Visa business and how well it showcased the power of the Visa Direct API,” says Singh. “Along with providing financial resources, Visa is offering Everywhere Initiative winners guidance from our product and development teams, exposure to our resources and intellectual property and what we hope is a long-lasting business relationship.”
As the winner of the live pitch, Ledge will have the opportunity to receive a $25,000 award to develop and execute a prototype or pilot of their idea, plus they’ll automatically enter into the 2016 Everywhere Initiative
finals in San Francisco.
“It feels great to be recognized by Visa,” says Adam Neff, Cofounder and CEO of Ledge. “It's huge validation for our product and reinforces our conviction that community-powered lending is a major opportunity. The Visa network and its Developer Platform will be crucial for our team as we move forward to take Ledge everywhere we want to be.”
Entries for the main competition will open on April 14. Developers can enter the API Challenge as well as two upcoming challenges: The Everywhere Global Events Challenge, which asks startups to creatively leverage popular social media channels to engage fans at Visa-sponsored events. The Everywhere Cardless Challenge asks startups to imagine a cardless world and creatively encourage Visa cardholders to load their Visa cards onto every digital payment platform they use.