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Santa Clara Company Secures Mobile Payments, Saves Businesses Money

While many startups have focused on developing products to solve problems people didn’t know they had, Santa Clara-based MagicCube was conceived in an effort to find a solution to a real-world problem that helps small and large businesses easily — and affordably — accept credit card payments.

When co-founder Sam Shawki was employed by Visa, he encountered a difficult business case where security could not be enabled for mobile payments. He went home and, like many husbands, discussed this issue with his wife, Nancy Zayed, explaining that the problem was, technically, not solvable. Zayed, whose background includes stints at Apple, Palm, Yahoo and Cisco, believed otherwise and MagicCube was born.

“There are a lot of startups who produce products looking for a problem,” said Zayed. “For us, it was an actual problem that we solved.”


Though products like Square, ApplePay and Google Pay have revolutionized the way credit card payments are accepted, MagicCube’s Pin on Glass technology was a game-changer. With Square, merchants must use additional hardware and with ApplePay and Google Pay, merchants need tailored software. MagicCube allows any smartphone to be turned into a payment terminal without specialized, merchant-specific apps or a credit card reader.

“They all depend on hardware,” said Shawki. “When I was at Visa, we had to go to Apple and ask them to protect our credit cards and that’s how ApplePay was born, but you had to go through the device maker. With us, you buy the software kit and you can have a product like ApplePay on your phone.”

“Your credit card has a chip on it and your phone has a similar chip inside,” Shawki continued. “The chip is a safe that stores your identity and related information. What we were able to do is create that same safe in technology. Before MagicCube, it was deemed not possible. The first use [of Pin on Glass] was to get rid of devices that use hardware. When you swipe your credit card, that terminal is a big piece of metal with a security chip. Because of us, you can actually use your phone instead, and not just for touching the card, like Square does, but also for entering secret information, like your PIN number. Instead of an entire device, you can download an application, powered by us, and become a merchant. You can tap anybody’s card on your phone and a screen will show up with the same PIN numbering — 1 to 0 — and anyone can enter their pin.”

Not accepting credit cards can be detrimental to a small business, but payment terminals often cost thousands of dollars. In 2012, a GoPayment survey found that 55 percent of small businesses didn’t accept credit cards, costing them as much as $100 billion in missed sales each year.

The cost to implement Pin on Glass, however, comes at a fraction of the cost of similar technologies, can be implemented quickly and allows not only small businesses, but independent contractors like hairdressers and gardeners, to securely accept payments through their phones. Additionally, progressive companies focused on creating an experience for customers are now adopting Pin on Glass technology to allow customers to quickly pay and get on with their day.

Although its largest application is in accepting payments for products and services, the Pin on Glass platform has applications reaching far beyond secure payments and into securing medical devices and vehicles.

“Usually people start with a product and build products until a platform is created,” said Shawki.  “Nancy and her team built a powerful platform. Our platform has stayed the same and everything else is an app. It’s a unified platform you can use for securing your card payments, cars and healthcare. The future is to conquer vertically.”

To do that, MagicCube will focus on developing additional applications that connect with its current platform to protect and secure connected devices.

“What Nancy and I are proud of,” Shawki said, “is that there are a lot of great companies building great stuff, but many are flaunting fluffy ideas and raising tons of capital using the buzzword of the day. Nancy and I choose to solve a real problem that requires grit and hard work, while valuing our investors and making sure their money is well spent.”

To learn more about MagicCube and Pin on Glass technology visit,


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