Protean Payment landed a big fish in Michigan's mobile technology pond last week when the mobile payment start-up announced that Detroit Labs co-founder Henry Balanon
is joining Protean Payment's executive ranks as its chief technology officer.
has emerged as one of the biggest mobile app companies in Michigan since it was launched in 2011, handling mobile work for Quicken Loans, Stryker and Domino's among other larger corporate clients. It is now one of the fastest-growing companies based in the M@dison Building in downtown Detroit.
Enticing the likes of Balanon, one of Metro Detroit's early mobile app developers, is not a new thing for Protean Payment. The Ann Arbor-based start-up also has Dug Song
serving as a key advisor. Song is a serial tech entrepreneur and current co-founder of Duo Security, a venture-backed Internet security start-up based in Ann Arbor.
Protean Payment is developing technology called "Echo" that will serve as a "skeleton key for the wallet" by combining all of the user's credit, debit, loyalty and ID cards into the Echo card. Echo comes equipped with a tiny computer that syncs with the user's mobile phone. The accompanying mobile app allows the user to convert Echo into the card of his or her choice, allowing them to swipe it as they would their normal credit card.
"It is in essence a virtual wallet," says Chris Bartenstein, co-founder of Protean Payment
. "The card can become any of your cards for payment."
Barnestein co-founded Protean Payment with Thiago Olson a year ago. The original technology was developed by the pair when they went to school in Vanderbilt University. Olson was working at TARDEC
in Warren when he and Barnestein, who had a brother attending the University of Michigan School of Law, moved to Ann Arbor and launched Protean Payment out of the Tech Brewery. It is now looking at moving into space at the former home of Bay Design in Kerrytown, which is the home of Duo Security and a couple of other start-ups that launched out of the Tech Brewery
Protean Payment has begun raising angel investment money. Bartenstein declined to say how much specifically but said it has raised six-figures so far and plans to put together a formal seed-round of funding later this year.
Source: Chris Bartenstein, co-founder of Protean Payment
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.