Friendly fraud—when a credit-card user disputes a legitimate charge—costs companies billions of dollars every year. And it’s on the rise as contactless delivery becomes more common. After all, how can you prove you delivered a pizza when your driver never even came face to face with the customer?
Enter Cincinnati startup LISNR and its ultrasonic proximity solution. LISNR’s software, which works in concert with a vendor’s mobile app, pings the customer’s phone with a signal, proving that the driver and customer were indeed in the same place at the same time.
“If the company had us installed in their app, our technology would allow that handshake to happen at distances up to six feet,” says Jeff Hudson, LISNR’s head of marketing and growth.
And food delivery is just one of LISNR’s use cases. The device- and platform-independent solution can help everyone from rideshare companies to retailers to concert venues confirm customers’ identities while keeping all parties safe. “Contactless is going to become the norm; that’s what we’re predicting,” Hudson says.
LISNR was born, pitched, and initially financed in 2012 during a three-day Cincinnati StartupBus trip to SXSW. Since then, it has raised over $35 million in financing and has powered over 100 million interactions across millions of devices.
Last fall, Visa invested in the company to help accelerate its growth in the mobile-payment space. “LISNR is a better method vs. alternatives like NFC or QR codes for mobile payments globally,” LISNR CEO Eric Allen said at the time. “It decentralizes payment scenarios across a wide range of payment moments with advanced data protection, ability to transact at a distance and concurrent transactions—all which are designed to accelerate payments overall.”
So what makes Cincinnati the right place for LISNR? Hudson offers three key factors.
Growing and attracting talent
Much of the company’s talent is homegrown thanks to the presence of companies like Procter & Gamble, Kroger and Fifth Third Bank. “You have really talented individuals who are working for Fortune 100 companies that might want to dive into the startup scene,” he says.
The right ingredients
While some people don’t view the Midwest as a tech mecca, Hudson believes Cincinnati offers startups many important advantages. “The cost of living’s cheap. You have really talented people all over the place. You have an awesome startup ecosystem and a lot of approachable investors, whether that be through CincyTech or the Queen City Angels. You have a lot of incubator programs that are right here in the heart of Cincy, like Cintrifuse and the Brandery. You have a lot of the guts of what a good startup city would be,” he says.
In the middle of it all
You also have location. Since LISNR is all about proximity, it’s not surprising Hudson thinks Cincinnati’s location relative to cities like Nashville, Columbus and Pittsburgh is important.
“You’re in the epicenter of the Midwest cities that are startup hubs,” he says.