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I’m working with a very interesting new API offering from the retail focused InComm, dubbed the Cashtie API. Over the last two decades InComm has worked hard to build relationships with major retailers, resulting in a very hard to establish presence at the cash register of major retailers like Walmart, Target and CVS.

InComm’s new Cashtie API opens up access to retailers point of sale (POS) systems, allowing any approved developer to sell online goods to consumers at these high value retail locations—opening up the possibility for web and mobile applications to accept cash payments for virtual goods, services and utilities at top retailers.

InComm is the company behind gift card activation solutions for all those major gift cards you see everywhere, and digital barcode solutions that we are getting familiar with when purchasing physical goods like a coffee at Starbucks, but the Cashtie is pushing commerce into an entirely new realm. These earlier solutions are about buying physical goods with virtual gift cards and online accounts, where the Cashtie API is about allowing buy digital goods at retail locations with cash.

The immediate use of cash for purchasing virtual goods can be applied to the hottest virtual products like online movies, music and gaming. Think of the possibilities for impulse buys at the cash register of Walmart and Target, when you aren’t limited to the physical items that surround the cash register, but expanded into an unlimited world of digital goods and services.

Opening up cash payments for digital goods to all retail consumers is interesting, but the application that really gets me interested, is delivering applications to what is considered as the unbanked, and underbanked across the nation. According to the FDIC, 8.2 percent of US households are unbanked, representing 10 million in total, as well as 20.1 percent of US households are underbanked, which represents 24 million consumers—this is a pretty significant audience to reach with online goods and services.

The Cashtie API opens up an interesting new world of paying cash for digital goods, but also can be easily applied to paying our regular and one-time bills with cash. Currently bill pay with cash at retail locations is a pretty time consuming process, but Cashtie makes it as simple as scanning a barcode on physical utility bills or on your smartphone via a digital barcode. No more going to the information counter at the grocery store, bills can be paid alongside everyday purchases at the regular checkout line in a variety of retail locations.

I’m intrigued by the potential of the Cashtie API. Those of us who live and breathe the online world may think the world revolves around us, but a significant part of world still operates on a cash-only basis. The Cashtie API bridges these two worlds, allowing cash to buy virtual goods, augmenting our existing ability of buying physical goods with virtual currency.

I will be working with InComm to developer their API strategy, and hoping to tell the stories that come out of this interesting new ecosystem. I’m pretty picky about who I work with at API Evangelist, and while there will be uses of the Cashtie API that won't capture my attention, I predict there will be some very meaningful uses that deliver value to a very underserved segment of our society.




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