PayPal co-founder launches Affirm, aims for one-click mobile payments

PayPal co-founder Max Levchin is launching a new mobile payments start-up called Affirm, the first project to come out of Levchin’s San Francisco tech incubator.


Levchin, a Ukrainian-born American computer scientist and serial internet entrepreneur, founded PayPal alongside Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Kevin Howery and Luke Nosek.


Then in 2004, Levchin founded Slide – a personal media-sharing service for social networking sites – which was sold to Google in August 2010 for a reported $182 million.


Levchin is also the chairman of Yelp, and has set up a San Francisco-based tech incubator called HFV, which stands for Hard, Valuable, Fun.


“It was founded as the umbrella project for all my data-focused undertakings,” Levchin has said.


The first project to come out of HFV is Affirm, which brings “speed and simplicity” to users’ mobile shopping checkout experiences.


“Affirm brings two-tap checkout to any mobile retail experience and liberates abandoned carts from an eternity in mobile shopping cart limbo,” the website says.


“The Affirm payment platform integrates seamlessly into a retailer’s purchase flow, converting impulse shopping into impulse buying and ‘I want’ to ‘I bought’.”


Affirm’s beta launch partner is, a US-based floral and gift retailer and distribution company, which launched the Affirm payment platform in August last year.


“We are trying to get as close as possible to one-click, which has always been the case on the desktop,” Levchin told All Things Digital.


“In mobile, it has become an imperative to be able to buy it now or you lose a customer quickly.”


“You will essentially be putting a purchase on a digital tab, and we are going to make it work for us by looking at all available data to determine if you are someone who will pay it back.”


Affirm will use Facebook for authentication of consumers, and a number of other social and data signals to assess risk. Consumers will have about 30 days to settle their bills.


Levchin believes his efforts at PayPal did not go far enough in improving the online payment space, which is why he launched Affirm.


“Payments online are still too hard – we started the revolution with PayPal and democratised payments for small businesses, but we stopped short of changing the system,” he said.


“The world is now awash in data and we can see consumers in a lot clearer ways… I just think there is so much more to do. Technology has come a long way since PayPal.”


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