Ingk Labs, an IP accelerator in New York City, has purchased payment platform ORCA Inc. and will use it to power a new PayPal competitor called Payz. ORCA, formerly known as OneTXT, was backed by Metamorphic Ventures, KPG Ventures and individual investors Geoff Judge, Roger Ehrenberg, and John Frankel. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
ORCA, also based in New York, was a social media payment platform that helped facilitate transactions on social networks and online games. Ingk Labs will now take possession of ORCA’s IP and other assets and will use them as the basis for Payz, a comprehensive payment, loyalty and analytics platform that will include support for gift cards. Payz’ promise is to make taking payments dead simple while providing deep customer analytics and services like gift cards and rewards to improve customer relationships and decrease abandoned shopping carts.
Payz offers a lightweight API that lets merchants without a merchant account or payment gateway create a single unified commerce system. More established retailers can wrap Payz’s service around their existing payment system including PayPal. Merchants can build their own payment experience, brand it themselves, keep transactions onsite and encourage more loyalty through gift cards. The goal is to help merchants better convert sales by taking a very consumer-centric approach to payments.
“We feel the industry is in need of a makeover,” said Craig Alberino, CEO and founding partner at Ingk Labs. “E-commerce has de-coupled payments from customer service and commoditized payments. But our customers tell us $87 billion is left in e-commerce because of abandoned shopping carts. We’re trying to help our customers find new revenue.”
Alberino said ORCA was close to being bought by GSI, which ultimately decided not to go forward after GSI itself was purchased by eBay. ORCA’s core services have been rewritten and Ingk Labs is looking to sign-up old ORCA customers, who were dropped in anticipation of being onboarded by GSI, said Alberino.
The acquisition of ORCA highlights a more aggressive stance by Ingk Labs, which has been around since 1996. After the company sold InstantService, an Internet communication platform for live-agent customer service, to Oracle in 2010, it’s been ramping up plans to rescue and accelerate IP and turn it into new companies. In December, Ingk Labs bought the technology behind SwapThing and will use it as the foundation of a new service called Barterpop, that allows people to exchange goods and services in multi-party trades.
Ingk Labs will launch a dozen companies this year and has plans to roll out 24 next year, Alberino said. It’s raising a $50 million fund to fuel its ambitions.
Payz will have a lot of competition in the payment space, from established competitors such as PayPal to hot new start-up Stripe. But Alberino believes his experience with customer service in building InstantService will help create the kind of payment platform that merchants need. The company believes it can get up to $400 million in transactions processed after its first year. There’s a lot of work to be done but Ingk Labs hopes it can prove to a winner not just with Payz but its overall IP acceleration model.