Private P2P Payment App Mezu Announces Impending Shut Down
Recently it seems as though the FinTech industry has been on a bit of a hot streak. Between major acquisitions and impressive funding rounds, there’s been plenty of good news to go around for startups in the space. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case across the board as there have been some casualties. The latest example of this is the Cleveland-based peer to peer payment app Mezu.
Over the weekend, an email was sent to current Mezu users informing them that the service would be taken offline as of August 11th, 2020. At that time, the app will no longer be available to download or use. Those with a remaining Mezu balance on that date will see their funds automatically transferred back to their linked bank account — although the company notes that paper checks will be mailed in the event that a transfer fails.
Although Mezu offered many of the standard features one would expect from a P2P app, it also emphasized a bent toward privacy. Using the service, customers could send and receive funds anonymously through a few different methods. This included the ability to drop money into so-called MezuBoxes using only a box number or exchange funds in person using geo-locked four-digit codes. Ironically, while the current pandemic has surely decreased demand for in-person transactions, the MezuBox concept could have worked well in the service industry at a time when contactless payments are preferred to cash tips.
The closure of Mezu also happens to come nearly one year after the service announced its unique digital debit card. In just a few taps, users were able to generate a debit card that could be added to digital wallets such as Apple Pay or used online. These cards would pull directly from available funds on Mezu and, for a time, the company even offered cash back rewards for purchases from certain retailers. On that note, the company says that they will be deactivating all existing Mezu Cards, which will lead subsequent transactions to be declined.
While Mezu had a clever angle and twist on the popular P2P payment set-up, it seems that the dominance of PayPal, Venmo, Square Cash, and Zelle proved too formidable for Mezu. Sadly, the closure of the service is a loss for consumers who appreciated the extra level of privacy it offered. Perhaps some of the ideas that the app helped pioneer could be incorporated into other offerings down the road. Until then, RIP Mezu.