How This Scarsdale Entrepreneur Plans To Make Online Shopping Safer

Each week another merchant seems to fall prey to hackers bent on stealing customers’ financial information. One pioneering company founded by Scarsdale native and resident Andy Roth has developed Pay, a new system designed to stymie hackers and offer users anonymity when purchasing goods or services online.

According to Privacy’s CEO Boling Jiang, Pay essentially generates virtual card numbers that protect users’ privacy when shopping through online retailers. Roth notes that Pay is used on top of an existing credit card or bank account, which allows the site to securely pay for goods or services on a user’s behalf.

“Whenever you go to a website our software detects where the credit card field is and puts a button over the top of the page that you can click on to generate a disposable card number,” says Jiang of the system.

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For Roth, the concept was born out of equal parts philosophy and necessity. “I believe that privacy is a fundamental human right,” says Roth. “I was the chief privacy officer at American Express, and I had an idea of founding a company that would protect people’s privacy and allow people to pay for things without disclosing their identities.”

With his idea in hand, Roth set out to find someone who could make this dream a reality. It was quickly apparent that Boling Jiang was just the person for the job. “Bo is an MIT grad in applied math and has done some amazing things in just a short amount of time,” shares Roth. “In fact, the rest of the team was brought on by Bo.”

Currently, Pay is still in an early stage.—which is based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—has only existed for about a year and a half. “A lot of the work has been put into doing things the right way and making sure we have the regulatory go ahead, the right bank partner, and that we have approval from VISA and our processor to do the things we want to do,” says Jiang.

The $1.2 million in seed funding it has raised, which includes an investment by former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, will accelerate this process. “It takes a pretty significant amount of capital to get to market,” says Jiang. “We actually hit the goal we originally set and there was still a ton of interest, so we ended up taking in a little more money than we even anticipated.”

Roth believes the frequency with which many customers’ financial information is compromised will make Pay a vital service. “There is definitely a very compelling value proposition for people who have had their credit cards replaced three times in the last year because of a breach at a merchant,” he says. “We are easier to use and are way more secure.”

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Jiang notes that users only need to “go to website, sign up with some basic personal information, and connect a bank account to the service. The next step is they install the software—which is a one-click install—and they are ready to go.” According to Jiang the entire process takes about three minutes.

Currently, Pay is only available as an extension to the Chrome browser and must be tethered to a bank account, but has already been developed for use on Android and iPhone systems. These mobile apps will be rolled sometime in the future.

Above all, Privacy wants to first get the current iteration of Pay right before expanding its services. “We are laser-focus on the product that we are doing right now,” says Jiang. “The next year is probably going to be solely focused on refining the product, expanding the new platforms, customer acquisition, growing the team, and making sure we have the right compliance and regulatory details lined up.”

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