Freedom and choice. That’s what most people in today’s world are looking for when it comes to pretty much anything. One area where it seems like we all have that freedom and choice is how we pay for goods or services, but in reality we are often limited in HOW we are able to pay for those things. Did you know most colleges don’t accept credit cards for tuition and many country clubs don’t accept them for membership dues? Or that in most instances you can’t purchase a car on a credit card? Oftentimes service providers related to home improvements or cleaning don’t accept credit cards, either. The list goes on and the bottom line is we, as consumers, do not actually have complete freedom and choice around how we pay for things as we are limited by merchant acceptance. Think of how many fewer places American Express is accepted compared to Visa and Mastercard, for example! Plastiq changes all of that by giving consumers the freedom to pay a bill or invoice with a credit card, even in situations they normally couldn’t.
What makes Plastiq truly unique is that no one else does what they do. By opening the door for people to use their credit card to pay for anything they want, they are giving people more choices. Perhaps someone wants to earn credit card rewards points for a large purchase they would be making anyway, but the merchant doesn’t accept cards? Plastiq is a perfect solution because it enables consumers to pay anyone quickly and securely. Customers use Plastiq to pay for everything from rent and utilities to tuition and taxes, with some customers even using the service for big ticket items like purchasing a Tesla.
How it works is simple. Simply sign into your Plastiq account, specify who to pay and submit the payment using the card of your choice. A small service fee is automatically calculated and applied to the payment total and once the payment is submitted Plastiq will process it and send it in a form the recipient accepts, such as check or bank transfer. Once payment is received the sender is notified and it’s done! There is also a recurring payments option, which enables users to “set it and forget it” and never miss a payment deadline.
Plastiq was born out of true user necessity. When co-founder and CEO Eliot Buchanan was a Harvard undergrad he wanted to pay part of his tuition on a credit card. Coming from Canada, Eliot was looking for ways to establish his credit in the U.S. and thought this would be a great way, but it turns out that Harvard doesn’t accept credit as a tuition payment method (and as mentioned earlier, this is true for lots of schools). Frustrated that he wasn’t able to pay how he wanted the wheels started turning for him to develop a way to make that a reality.
As a student, Eliot actually kept an Excel spreadsheet of “interesting” people he met in school, a list he would regularly network with, meeting people for coffee or a burger, to see how their semesters were going. Daniel Choi was on that list and it was actually over burgers one day that Eliot shared his overall vision for the early stages of Plastiq. Dan happened to be studying computer science at Harvard and built a new prototype of the product over spring break – the product turned out to be highly impressive and following their graduation just a few weeks later they decided to move in together and work on the company full time from their apartment in Boston.
Launching a business, especially at such a young age, has not been without challenges and Eliot and Dan have found one of the biggest challenges is getting people to take them seriously, whether it’s potential investors, employees, partners and even customers. However, despite the road blocks they have learned one very important lesson through it all, which is to embrace their age. They make up for it by soaking up knowledge and learning from everyone they meet, asking smart questions, networking with everyone (Eliot can vouch for the Excel spreadsheet method) and never giving up on their goals.
Since that summer of 2011 Dan and Eliot have achieved some major wins both personally and professionally. Both were honored as Hive 25 Under 25 winners by The Boston Globe, they have raised $18.5m in funding, with $10m from Khosla Ventures, and moved the company to San Francisco to be at the heart of tech. They now have 37 employees, have processed millions in payments and are growing rapidly. In addition, they have secured deals with government agencies and major card brands as well as holding the distinction of providing the entire nation of Canada with a way to pay taxes on credit cards, something previously unavailable before the Plastiq method.
Learn more about the Plastiq Team:
Eliot Buchanan, Co-founder and CEO
Eliot is co-founder and CEO of Plastiq and serves on its board of directors. While still in college, Eliot founded Plastiq to solve his own problem of trying to pay part of his tuition on a credit card. Today, he is focused on empowering everyone to simplify life by putting payments on a card, even in cases where credit is not accepted. As CEO he oversees the strategic direction of the company and directing its various business initiatives across both the U.S and Canada. He holds a BA, Economics from Harvard University as well as a patent for “payment system and methods for brokering consumer-pay transactions.” In 2013, he was honored as a “Hive 25 Under 25” by The Boston Globe.
Daniel Choi, Co-founder and Head of Growth
Daniel Choi is co-founder and head of growth at Plastiq, where he is responsible for leading the company’s technology strategy and developing a service that gives people the freedom to pay a bill or invoice with a credit card, even in a situation they normally couldn’t. Daniel was critical in forging relationships with major bank and government institutions in order to deliver the first-ever non-bank access for bill pay systems in Canada. A graduate of Harvard University, Daniel holds multiple payment patents and was honored as a “Hive 25 Under 25” by The Boston Globe in 2013.