Ann Arbor’s Stratos Launches “Industry First” Connected Payment Card
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“We realized how important a referral program is, so we’ve built that into the app. If you refer someone, we’ll send a link and both of you will get a discount.”
The 50-person Stratos team is already hard at work on new features like “wave and pay,” and fingerprint authentication. Eventually, Olson hopes users will be able to load their cards on the app without a card reader.
The Stratos card is not the world’s first mobile payment system, of course—there’s Apple Pay and Google Wallet, to name two of the best-known examples. Olson says his card can work in tandem with services like Apple Pay: “We don’t view Apple Pay or Google Wallet as competition, but as a complement. We also have smart suggestions, and they don’t. It comes back to what we’re trying to do, which is a membership as opposed to a one-off gadget, and a way to improve upon the security of the way we pay. You also have the empowerment and intelligence that a connected device brings.”
Olson says it was tempting to introduce the Stratos card through a crowdfunding campaign in order to drum up media interest and pre-orders. But the company ultimately decided it didn’t want to go that route with a complex, new fintech product. “We wanted to establish a trustworthy relationship with our members first,” he explains.
Olson estimates the value of the market for the Stratos card is big. “It’s in between fintech and wearables, and the numbers associated with those markets are both high,” he says. “This is really a wearable of sorts. We’re focused on creating a lifestyle brand, so we plan a lot of social content with, for instance, influential Instagrammers.”
A year from now, Olson hopes to have a nationwide base of members as the company begins rolling out product updates. Stratos is also working with banks and the financial ecosystem to reach the audience of potential members who might not be as tech-savvy as early adopters.
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