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  • Zipmark releases API and developer program for check processing

As companies big and small try to invent the "next big thing" in payments, one company is looking to resurrect something from the past -- the checkbook. Well, maybe not the checkbook per se, but the network that made checks so useful for so long. Zipmark, a New York City-based start-up, is trying to update checks for a mobile world and make things easier and cheaper for merchants at the same time.

Launched in 2010, Zipmark recently secured $2 million in Series Seed funding from NYC Seed, High Peaks Venture Capital and the New York City Investment Fund.

As a part of its rollout, Zipmark announced yesterday the launch of its Developer Program and API. The new API provides the first real-time authorized checking transactions, Zipmark said, and gives businesses and app developers access to an entirely new kind of fast and secure payment system for online and mobile transactions. The Developer Program is designed to be efficient and effective for developers looking to integrate payments into their apps, the company said.

It will be debuting its iPhone app at next month's South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. The app will let users pay bills and fees using QR codes on their statements.

"We created Zipmark to address the billing and operations challenges faced every day by startups and established businesses alike," said Jake Howerton, Zipmark's co-founder and head of product. "The same thing happens across all industries: too much time and resources focused on collecting money instead of their actual business. That is why we're giving the checkbook an update - to increase cash flow and decrease hassle with payments."

 According to Zipmark, its platform brings the infrastructure for check-processing to billers and their customers and lets businesses accept secure payments from any bank, thrift or credit union checking account without the fees associated with credit cards. Service charges are a flat 1 percent for each transaction with a $5 cap.

"Our goal is to simplify the way businesses get paid," said CEO and co-founder Jay Bhattacharya in the announcement. "There are so many inefficiencies in the payments system right now — from the length of time it takes for a payment to process to the cost of transaction fees and unnecessary labor dedicated to handling collections - which we see as a major opportunity. We want to give product developers an ideal payment mechanism: low-fee, high utility, fast settlement."

For more stories like this, see the Bill Payment research center.

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