10
May
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Watch out, Google Wallet, there's a new player in town. Actually, Google Wallet hasn't really done all that well; it's still being blocked by big carriers, and NFC point of sale systems aren't exactly ubiquitous yet. For those reasons, stopgap apps like Clutch - an e-commerce app that allows you to pay with barcodes generated by your credit, debit, loyalty or gift cards - probably have a better chance than Wallet of moving us towards frictionless mobile payments.

Screenshot_2013-05-10-09-40-56 Screenshot_2013-05-10-09-41-20

Users of Apple's Passbook app on iOS will feel right at home with Clutch's payment mechanism. With the aforementioned card-scanning capabilities, the app looks to make storage of plastic as simple as possible. Hold any card up to your phone's camera, and Clutch will identify and grab relevant data, adding the card to your mobile wallet.  Pretty much any kind of loyalty or payment card imaginable is supported.

Screenshot_2013-05-10-09-40-42 Screenshot_2013-05-10-09-42-12

As any good payment app should, Clutch integrates Google Shopping-like functionality. By scanning barcodes, the app allows users to compare prices between stores, be them brick-and-mortar or online. In addition, Clutch includes a 'nearby deals' tab that'll inform users of promotions and specials at stories in proximity to their location. The app also leverages its location-awareness to alert users when they're close to stores for which they have a gift card.

Screenshot_2013-05-10-09-42-44 Screenshot_2013-05-10-09-42-31

Perhaps the most unique feature of Clutch is its Shopping Feed. Shopping Feeds is kind of like Amazon.com recommendations: you're presented with a scrollable list of product pictures and details, and free to explore each at will. The feed isn't completely random - it's populated based on your interests, becomes smarter over time, and kicks popular and trending items to the top - but it's meant to evoke window shopping, in a way.

Clutch wants to be social. Collections - an aggregate of products you've recently accessed through Shopping Feed or elsewhere - are personalized lists that can be shared with friends. As you'd expect of any social network, 'liking' of and commenting on Collections is supported, but not much else. Collections is fairly barebones, right now, but has potential.

Recently, there's been a dearth of compelling mobile wallet apps on Android. Google Wallet is truly magical when it works, but sometimes it doesn't, or isn't supported by a merchant, or is blocked by a wireless carrier. Other apps have taken a different approach to mobile payments and tried to replicate iOS Passbook's functionality, with limited success. It's too early to tell if Clutch will prove to be a viable option for people looking to ditch battered leather wallets once and for all, but with social and location -based features, it's looking very interesting.

Source: Clutch

Kyle Wiggers
Kyle Wiggers is an avid writer, web designer, podcaster, and video producer with an acute interest in all things technology. When not reviewing or commentating on gadgets, apps, and videos, he enjoys reading New Yorker feature articles, tinkering with computers, and playing the occasional game of Rock Me Archimedes.

  • Simon Boulet

    So how do you pay with it? I understand you scan your credit card, but I don't know you use it at the merchant.
    Thanks

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It makes a bar code and you can also optionally store images of both sides of your cards. You can't swipe it, obviously, but cashiers should be able to scan it with their scanners or enter manually.

      • youareme7

        is scanning a credit card with a barcode common? I've never heard of doing that before aside from something like starbucks own proprietary system. I would really question how this would work for a mastercard debit card.

        • eqa

          Yeah, I put in a CC and it just stores the card info: *** 999 so I have no idea how to pay with it. No barcode either if ever that were an option.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            I really don't know about credit card storage, I am planning to just use it for loyalty and gift cards myself.

          • Jimmy Li

            Same here. Not risking CC info there. And you can't really use it like the loyalty card because the loyalty card brings the barcode where a credit card does nothing but shows the # and security code which I have a huge problem with security/personal wise.

        • Freak4Dell

          I've never seen a credit card scanned with a barcode. I've also rarely see gift cards with barcodes. Most have the magnetic strips like credit cards do. Sounds like this app is really only good to aggregate loyalty cards, at least for me. Of course, I don't even visit any stores that have loyalty cards often enough to justify actually using them. Best Buy is the only one I regularly keep track of, and you can just tell them your phone number to pull up the card. Starbucks is another one, but if I'm just going to use the app for Starbucks, I may as well just keep the Starbucks app.

    • Dan Guy

      Thanks for the question Simon. We've designed the Wallet to be flexible in what it can store and display. You can store just about everything, including loyalty and gift cards, coupons, deals, tickets, receipts, and a whole lot more. We also let you store your credit and debit credit cards there so that you can use them to make gift card purchases.

      On the subject of point of sale redemption, we've had the most success with loyalty and gift cards. We're working really hard to improve this part of the experience, since obviously it's critical to making the wallet useful. Given the security considerations around debit and credit cards, we've made the decision not to attempt any kind of redemption process at the point of sale right now with credit/debit until we figure out the easiest and most secure way to support that for everybody.

      Given the confusion there around credit card redemption, we'll make sure to add some more education on that screen.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    I kind of love this app. Downloaded it yesterday, added a bunch of gift cards I've had lying around for years and feel like for the first time I would actually be able to spend them in stores because I always forget them at home. Loyalty cards too.

    <3

    • http://profiles.google.com/cory.simpson Cory Simpson

      Seems pretty girl orientated, even the name "clutch", and the pink heart like buttons. Also isn't very integrated with the shopping feed. Trying to buy an item takes you to the websites normal checkout process, and I couldn't find a way to inject my credit card information into the forms.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Yeah, I am definitely ignoring that whole shopping feed aspect of this app.

      • Dan Guy

        Thanks for the feedback Cory. We have functionality in Clutch now to allow you to paste your saved information into web forms, including name/address/payment info, if you have any set up. It's not universal for all sites yet, so on sites where it's supported you'll see a button to "Insert My Information". If it's not a site we support yet, you won't see that button.

        We know that web checkout processes are a big point of friction for mobile users, so this is an area we are putting a lot of resources into improving. We will be continuing to expand the number of sites we support with this functionality very quickly.

        On the subject of the Shopping Feed, we appreciate all the honest feedback there, and are working hard to make this area useful and fun for everyone.

    • Dan Guy

      Thanks Artem! On the subject of gift card balances, we have API integration for dozens of stores currently, and are working on greatly expanding this in the very near term. If we don't have integration, you can manually update balance as you use your cards. We know this isn't ideal, and are working on expanding our supported stores as fast as possible.

  • TOMMMMMM

    That UI doesn't know if it want's to be 2.3 or 4.2

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Very true, but otherwise the app is surprisingly well-made. I was really surprised just how well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonardob0880 Leonardo Baez

    meh.... cant download outside usa

    • Dan Guy

      Sorry about that Leonardo. For launch, Clutch is available in the US and Canada. We're still working on our international plans, but will keep everybody posted as soon as we have more information to share there.

  • Jim Bonner

    Samsung Wallet (an Android equivalent of Passbook) is launching soon. So this will force Clutch to change their business model.

    It's important to know that Samsung Wallet and Apple Passbook aren't really competitors to Clutch. They are just "interfaces" provided by Apple/Samsung, along with some APIs to make them function. They don't have any back end business rules., and they don't intend to provide them.

    So Clutch can simply change over to using Samsung Wallet/Passbook as their front end, but then continues to provide the back end server manipulation that makes those interfaces do powerful things. It's quite possible that Clutch will also continue supporting their existing native apps as well, since a certain percentage of customers will want to stay with the native apps to get the greater power that those native apps can provide.

    This same changeover will be needed by Lemon and the other wallets.

    My company provides the back end server tools for Passbook/SamsungWallet, so obviously I'm biased towards this model :)